Paul Kahan, fresh off his shared James Beard win for Outstanding Chef, is jumping into the rapidly growing Italian restaurant scene. His highly-anticipated restaurant in the upcoming Thompson Hotel will be a seafood-focused Italian restaurant named Nico and chef Erling Wu-Bower will slide over from avec to helm the kitchen, the Tribune reports. Expect it to open in December.
Wu-Bower took over avec from departed chef Koren Grieveson last August, putting his stamp on One Off Hospitality's Mediterranean wine bar in the West Loop. He has spent the last month in Philadelphia refining his Italian technique to prepare for Nico, which will feature handmade pastas, crostinis, crudos and grilled seafood. Both Kahan and Wu-Bower are currently in Puglia on a research trip. Perry Hendrix, who last cooked at Custom House before it shuttered on Halloween, will now run the avec kitchen.
Nico, named for the singer/model/actress known for her collaboration with the Velvet Underground, will have 125 seats on two floors in the posh neighborhood, which will be new geographic territory for a Kahan project. Kahan tells the Trib that the concept is "unpretentious elegance, a lot of it based on the pure simplicity of the food."
Italian spots Siena Tavern, Centro Ristorante, J. Rocco Italian Table and Bar, RPM Italian, and Piccolo Sogno Due exist just south in River North. But none of those have arguably the most successful restaurateur in the Midwest behind them.
· Paul Kahan and Co. readies Nico, an Italian seafood restaurant in Gold Coast [Tribune]
· Paul Kahan Plans Restaurant in Sutton Place Hotel [-ECHI-]
· All Paul Kahan Coverage [-ECHI-]