Earlier this week, news emerged that the folks behind Tank Sushi and Sushi Wabi took over the former Firefly space in Boystown and would open a new restaurant called Wood. Eater spoke with owner Franco Gianni to get the scoop and it sounds like he's bringing a much-needed chef-driven spot to the neighborhood.
While some may assume the name Wood is a playful nod to the area's large gay population, the name actually pays homage to Gianni's father, who passed away last year. Mr. Gianni had been in the wood-working business since coming to America 50 years ago and all of Franco's siblings are still involved. His dad always wanted him to join the company so this is his way of getting into the business and paying tribute to his father.
But while the family connection first inspired the name, it then led to the concept. The kitchen will have a wood-burning oven and various wood finishes throughout. And before Firefly closed, the landlord built an addition on the back, which Wood is taking advantage of. The entire space will undergo a gut rehab starting on Monday with a target opening of Memorial Day weekend.
Wood will first and foremost be a restaurant with seasonal American small plates with an emphasis on butchering whole animals. Chef Ashlee Aubin, who most recently was chef de partie at Alinea and has also worked at Zealous, does a lot of butchering and focuses on using local produce. The restaurant will have a large, open kitchen in the back, and Aubin's menu will mainly focus on a number of small plates and flatbreads, but will also have three to five entrees and a selection of cheese and charcuterie.
On the menu, you'll find roasted pork belly with eggplant and spring onion; tagliatelle with arugula, shallots and pork confit; confit chicken thighs with white bean and escarole; smoked char with beets and orange; artichoke risotto with house pancetta and lemon; charred baby leeks with romesco and marcona almonds; and whole-roasted silver bream with olives, fennel and salsa verde. The flatbreads will change regularly (as will the charcuterie) and one example has Capriole Farms goat cheese with caramelized onion, Parmesan and spinach. Small plates will range between $6 to $12; flatbreads $9 to $11; and entrees $16 to $22. Gianni wants to keep prices affordable and in line with what the neighborhood now offers.
Wood will also place a large emphasis on the bar since the neighborhood dictates that you have a bar in the later-night hours, Gianni said. The entire north wall of the space will have a 25-seat bar where people can drink and dine. It'll have a full bar, but will place an emphasis on craft beers and small-batch liquor with a extensive barrel-aged (see: more wood) brown liquor. But don't worry: You can always get a vodka soda.
The entire space will seat about 50, including the bar seats. The current bricked-in south wall will be opened up to house six windows spaced apart with mirrors in between each. The tables on this wall will be lined up banquette style, but will be raised to have 42-inch tables that are at the same height as the bar. As the name suggests, wood finishes, like lightly toasted cedar, appear throughout the space, which is decorated with earth tones.
In the summer, Wood will add a 35- to 40-seat patio along Buckingham, but even before that, the restaurant will feature a late-night walk-up window to serve Belgian-style fries with about 15 to 20 different dipping sauces. Just thinking about it all gives us, well, a little bit of wood.
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Wood will move into the former Firefly location. [Photo: About.com]