Lettuce Entertain You is jumping into the highly saturated field of Italian restaurants with il Porcellino, and has tapped one of its newest acquisitions Aaron Martinez as chef de cuisine. Martinez was most recently found in the kitchen of Intro, where his late-summer menu earned praised for its "simple, bright and clean flavors," by the Chicago Tribune. He will combine this aesthetic with the Italian techniques that he learned from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Tusk at Quince in San Francisco.
Alongside chef/partner Doug Psaltis, Martinez will transform the former Paris Club Bistro & Bar into a rustic Italian eatery focusing on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti, focaccia pizzas, and hearty entrees. But how will it be any different than the dozens other Italian spots in town?
"It's all been done," Martinez says. "But the products that we use will define what we do." This product includes heritage Berkshire pork belly from Iowa and wild Umbrian cicerchia beans for the restaurant's signature dish, il porcellino, which is a take on porchetta.
Martinez isn't the only big name joining the il Porcellino team. It was recently announced that acclaimed Los Angeles bartender Julian Cox will oversee the beverage program when the restaurant opens this spring. "If we were to make a list of the best bartenders to work with in the country, Julian is at the very top," managing partner R.J. Melman said in an official release. "We're excited for him to get started on il Porcellino, his first of many—both existing and new—projects with us."