Edwardo's Natural Pizza, which closed its Printers Row location a few weeks ago after about 25 years, is currently undergoing a major transformation and will emerge as a new, more localized version of Gino's East. An upscale sports bar will open in about six to eight weeks in the historic landmark building.
Both restaurants are owned and operated by Bravo Restaurants, which also operates the recently made over Eduardo's Enoteca. Noah Himmel is behind the renovation and wants to offer a place for locals who don't want to stand in an hour-long line with the many tourists who frequent the Downtown locations. "I'm trying to develop the concept that'll be more localized and fits in the community where it's placed," Himmel said. "We're doing that by changing the decor and the food and beverage program to fit within the neighborhood."
Himmel said they're finding some great design details as they go through demolition of the old building. They're utilizing exposed brick walls uncovered beneath layers of plaster, antique wood floors below levels of flooring, and are refurbishing a lot of hardware, the transom glass and a number of old doors that had been inoperable for years. The new 150-seat Gino's East will have a substantial bar and the team will incorporate the signature Gino's graffiti, but in a more decorative way than just randomly writing on any open surface. With numerous TVs to display sporting events, Himmel said they're going for more of a grown-up sports bar vibe instead of a college-focused spot.
The menu, which is still being developed, will have new takes on classic Gino's pizza like one that will have the original crust topped by layers of mozzarella, caramelized onion, bacon, patty sausage and sauce and finished off with bacon- and blue cheese-stuffed jalapeños. He's also experimenting with different types of sausage varieties. Other dishes being considered include mac and cheese with breaded buffalo chicken, a brisket platter, grilled cheese and ham with white truffle, fish and chips, hand-cut fries with different sauces, various wings like duck wings and also cheese and charcuterie boards.
Since this concept can scale, Himmel said they're already looking to possibly open two other sites, one in the city, but also thinks this can work in other markets outside Chicago. "The idea is that this isn't a one-off thing," Himmel said. "I want to open more of them and utilize different things from the [area], like different beer, wine or spirits that are local and appeal to the local tastes. I want there to be more of a community feel."
This will soon be a Gino's East [Photo: Yelp]