As Coco Pazzo celebrates 25 years, owner Jack Weiss dishes on the comfortable design aesthetic that keeps his restaurants timelessly chic.
Coco Pazzo Cafe’s beloved, Modigliani-inspired murals were painstakingly transferred to the restaurant’s new Streeterville location.
When Coco Pazzo opened its heavy oak doors in 1992, the city’s dining scene was a different world—now-sizzling Hubbard Street was all but deserted, and locals’ idea of Italian food was bowls of pasta and red sauce. Things have changed, but Jack Weiss’s rustic-chic Tuscan spot is still going strong, celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring.
Credit the restaurant’s accomplished cuisine, from tender wood-oven-roasted octopus to signature spaghetti AOP, and Weiss’s passion for service—but also its timelessly modern design. “There’s a lot of drama in the room,” says Weiss, surveying the lofty space, whose exposed beams, heavy velvet curtains, open kitchen (“one of the first in Chicago”), and walls of bottle paintings by Giorgio Morandi still draw daily crowds of politicians, athletes, and deal-closing suits. Notes Weiss, “It’s a room where all people are comfortable.”
A dozen blocks away, Weiss’s newly relocated Coco Pazzo Cafe expresses that same comfortably chic aesthetic, incorporating the 23-year-old restaurant’s beloved Modigliani-inspired wall murals into a striking, light-filled room—a lovely, lively counterpoint to its more refined sister restaurant. Two different spaces, but one shared passion: Marrying excellent food with great service, all in a stimulating room. Sums up Weiss, “I want people to have the best experience possible.” Coco Pazzo: 300 W. Hubbard St., 312-836-0900; Coco Pazzo Cafe: 212 E. Ohio St., 312-664-0212