The Florentine opened today as planned in the Loop's new JW Marriott hotel, and tables were “absolutely” available when we called in to check this evening. Then again, that's maybe not such a surprise given the restaurant's astounding 125 seats on the second floor, just above the hotel's grand lobby.
Corporate Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot, who catapulted Sunda into the hot celebrity hideout it is today, and Executive Chef Todd Stein, who brought over his well-cured modern Italian leanings from Cibo Matto, are in the kitchen now putting sophisticated twists on dishes that showcase the purity of Tuscan-influenced cuisine (the name's a shoutout to the city of Florence).
Given their experience, both chefs know not only the definition of "fine dining," but also any idiosyncrasies we Chicago diners might tend to have. Aglibot says the menu is "tailored to Chicagoans' palates" who, in his mind, "appreciate creativity and are always open to new restaurants."
Well, I suppose we are like that, aren't we?
Tonight's menu features starters like grilled octopus with "giant white beans," plus decadent entrees like a veal porterhouse with roasted mushrooms and a 12-ounce grilled filet in Barolo sauce, which is technically from a couple hundred miles northwest of Tuscany, but I think we can forgive them.
Oh, and one more thing: wood-burning oven. In addition to the haute plated dishes, The Florentine is serving up pizza (ah, maybe this is what Aglibot means by "Chicagoans' palates"). Not exactly deep dish from what we've seen, though. Varieties include house-made sausage with Havarti cheese, tomatoes and pickled fennel; portobello and oyster mushrooms with tallegio cheese and radicchio; and goat cheese with leeks, onion, bacon and sweet roasted garlic.
And, if you already made other plans tonight—no worries. The Florentine will open back up for breakfast on Friday at 7 a.m. before taking an hour to prep for lunch, which starts at 11:30 a.m.
At last, a fine dining restaurant where you can get your three squares a day.
The website's still a little tough to track down, so call (312) 660-8866 for reservations—just in case.
· All Florentine coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]