Find out what's new on Chicago's culinary scene this month.
That's Italian: The third concept from B. Hospitality Company (Balena, The Bristol), Formento’s is proving to be the charm for chef Tony Quartaro. “It’s what I grew up with,” says the 30-year old Iowa native, who recalls a boyhood spent making meatballs in the kitchen alongside his father, Nick. Look for classic dishes like half-chicken Parmesan, lobster fra diavolo, and—in a nod to his father’s signature dish—Nick’s linguini and clams, with house-made sauces available for purchase, like Quartaro’s vodka version. “Penne alla vodka is one of the first dishes I taught myself how to make when I was a kid,” says Quartaro with a laugh, “[but] this sauce is definitely an improvement upon the one I made when I was 8.” 925 W. Randolph St.
That's the Spirit: Since 2008, Koval has perfected the art of crafting grain-to-bottle whiskeys, liqueurs, and spirits like vodka and apple brandy, and this season the Ravenswood-based distillery’s portfolio continues to expand courtesy of its new dry gin. “We really wanted something compact and flavorful,” says master distiller and CEO Robert Birnecker, who recommends enjoying the organic, juniper-and coriander spiced 94-proof spirit on its own, or mixed with tonic for a heady twist on the classic concoction. 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave., 312-878-7988
Alliance Patisserie offers macarons in a variety of flavors, like balsamic fig and pistachio.
Sweet November: Chicagoans in need of a sugar fix this month have plenty of options. As Candyality (520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-527-1010) prepares to reopen its second sweet home at Water Tower Place, owner Terese Lang McDonald is eager to grow her brand’s Chicago Sweets section, featuring Chicago Celebrity truffles paying homage to the Windy City’s most famous faces—from Frank Lloyd Wright (dark chocolate with vanilla) to Rahm Emanuel (milk chocolate with cappuccino) and Mike Ditka (dark chocolate with orange).
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (951 W. Armitage Ave., 773-296-9866) celebrates the debut of its new Super Dark truffle collection, a heart-friendly mix of 72-percent cacao and superfoods for flavors like Baobab, Turmeric, and E3.
And on the baked-goods beat, pastry chef Peter Rios—famous for personalizing desserts for the late Princess Diana—brings signature confections like the Anne (chocolate mousse with a vanilla-bean cream, hazelnut-crunch chiffon cake studded with mini macarons) to River North’s cozy Tree Studios with Alliance Patisserie (615 N. State St.) opening in late November.
Autumn’s bounty will be the star of the menu at Current in the W Lakeshore.
Autumn Flavors: “I'm a November baby, so fall’s my time of year,” says chef Gregory Elliott. At the W Lakeshore’s new Italian-inspired concept, Current, he works with the best of autumn’s offerings for new menu items, such as pasta dishes incorporating gourds, pears, apples, and chestnuts, and the gorgonzola and roasted squash pizza with smoked pancetta. “We worked on our dough for six months,” he says of Current’s signature pies, which feature a puffy, blistered crust. “The simplest things are the hardest to do.” 644 N. Lake Shore Dr., 312-943-9200
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH SCOTT (MACARONS); NATHAN MICHAEL (CHICKEN); THINKSTOCK (GOURDS)