One Off Hospitality is ready to unleash its latest restaurant on Chicago tonight, and after teasing specific items and the concept the full food menus for Nico Osteria are finally revealed. Divided into sections featuring small and large plates, chef Erling Wu-Bower (avec) is incorporating regional Italian seafood and house-made pastas.
The small plates mostly run between $10-22 and include nine crudos such as sardines, needle fish, oysters, and spiny lobster and paired with an array of citrus, pickled vegetables, and other flavors. Other small dishes feature Italian staples (fritto misto; stracciatella) and non-seafood creations such as grilled sweetbread and pancetta spiedini; grilled quail with truffled peach olives and blood orange; and chicken liver with giardiniera and chicories.
Wu-Bower features eight house-made pasta dishes on the large plates menu, from saffron gemelli with braised octopus to a black bucatini with sardines, pine nuts, chiles, and mint. All pastas are between $17 and $20, with the exception of the lobster spaghetti (market price).
Fish entrees include a wild branzino and a wild turbot (sold by the pound) and a fish stew. Chicken, rib eye, and a meaty Neopolitan-style ragu with swordfish meatballs (sold per person) round out the section.
Acclaimed pastry chef Amanda Rockman has created a large selection of sweets, including gelato, sorbetto, affogato, and cheese plates. Her creative juices flow in the "Nico Torte" with saboyan, pumpkin, and roast plums; the walnut flan tart; the "Chocolate Budino" with hazelnut nougat and banana gelato; and her version of a tiramisu.
Matty Eggleston's cocktail menu is unavailable at this time. Nico Osteria officially opens at 5 p.m. but reservations are currently in high demand. The restaurant seats 108 while the adjoining lounge, Salone Nico, seats an additional 60.