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Taverna 750 Bringing Affordable Italian Fare to Boystown, Aims to Open in Early June

Unique details like Venetian plaster and 1950s-ear Italian photography welcome guests
Unique details like Venetian plaster and 1950s-ear Italian photography welcome guests

Growing up, Paul Cannella always heard his family talk about working and eating in his grandfather's tavern. They'd always talk about the "tavern," but Cannella never knew, until recently, that his grandfather owned the Grand Tap Room, an upscale Italian restaurant in the 1930s and '40s, where a steak was $1.50. Today, Cannella, who also owns the bar Scarlet, wants to pay homage to his family's culinary past by updating the Grand Tap's recipes and serving them at a reasonable price at his soon-to-open neighborhood spot Taverna 750.

Taverna 750, in the former Cornelia's space, will have a glass-and-brick facade that will face out onto a 44-seat patio. The 55-seat interior gains inspiration from 1950's Italian fashion with large black and white photos gracing the walls, exposed brick, black concrete floors, textured Venetian plaster and a regal color palette of rich purple, gold and silver. The menu, which will feature gourmet pizzas, Italian small plates and homemade cellos (limoncello and the like), is being crafted by chef Ryan Bovinet and nothing will cost more than $10.

Bovinet, who graduated from Kendall College and trained in the South of France, worked with the Grand Tap's original menu and cookbook Cannella recently discovered to give a fresh, modern spin to the old recipes. While the menu is not 100 percent complete, expect to see plates like mozzarella alla filo (baked mozzarella, crunchy filo, seasoned walnuts and white truffle honey); mushroom canoli (sauteed mushrooms, rosemary and savory canoli shells); chilled carrot and sweet potato soup; pollo al limone (roasted chicken, lemon pasta gratin, confit cherry tomatoes and sauteed spinach); the Grand Tap (creamy polenta with pork shoulder ragu); and a variety of pizzas crafted from 70-year-old family recipes including four cheese; herb roasted chicken; and salami, brie and wine-poached figs.

Cannella said that in addition to the housemade cellos (lemon, orange and grapefruit), they're also crafting their own liqueurs (chocolate, espresso, pistachio, anise and almond) that they'll incorporate into their unique martinis. For that 20-martini list, they tapped award-winning Drawing Room mixologist Charles Joly to help tweak the final recipes. Joly is also creating an original drink list to be featured on the restaurant's patio. The martinis—grouped by "classics," "Italian signatures" and "sweets"—will all be $10 and served with an extra five-ounce chilled carafe so you get even more for your money, or let your friends taste if you're feeling generous.

Cannella said they are shooting to open within two weeks and will serve dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly with a modified late-night menu going until 1 a.m.