If you haven't been to Terragusto lately, you're out of luck as chef Theo Gilbert plans to shutter the restaurant after this week. And if you didn't get a personal invitation to one of the final dinners, don't bother calling: For now, it's friends and family only. Don't fret, however, because Gilbert has plans to open a new, larger Italian restaurant in Bucktown around the Six Points intersection in the near future.
Even though the restaurant is about to celebrate five and a half years, Gilbert said it was just time to move on. "When I originally put it together, I had a specific clientele— foodies who got it who had great bottles of wine and had no place to go," Gilbert said. "As the economy tanked the demographic shifted. Those great customers we had were crowded out by people who didn't care about the food, but could BYOB their Two-Buck Chuck."
Gilbert said he's hoping to open the still unnamed Bucktown location soon after Labor Day. The 50-seat spot will have a full bar with signature cocktails and a wine list featuring reasonably priced bottles representing a variety of Italian regions, many lesser known. He said the menu will still feel somewhat like Terragusto with many of the most popular items, like the pastas and grilled meats and fish, returning, but also set up like a typical Italian menu with antipasti, primi and secondi sections.
Gilbert will also introduce pasta flights, where guests can get tastings of five to seven different types of pasta, some off-menu items. He'll also permanently add risotto to the menu, something he was restricted to doing as an occasional special at Terragusto because of the limited kitchen space. The restaurant will also host farm dinners and weekly wine classes, where he'll treat everyone like a beginner to remove any intimidation for people who are just started to learn about wine.
As for closing Terragusto, Gilbert says he'll definitely miss it. "It's definitely bittersweet. I'm bummed. We could potentially get a liquor license in this location, but we have a lot of things going against us," he said. "If I put in a liquor license, I'd have to invest $100,000 and it doesn't seem like it's worth it. It'd be changing the concept mid-stream after five years. We'll have to let it go and start something else that will be as fun or more fun."
Terragusto [Photo: Facebook]