Many Indian restaurants in Chicago often suffer from a copycat syndrome, unable to break the mold. Mango Pickle wants to challenge that perception when it opens next week in Edgewater. The casual restaurant, a bistro as chef/owner Marisa Paolillo called it, will have an emphasis on presentation, highlighting the various regions in India that Paolillo and her husband experienced while living on the subcontinent.
The menu is more compact compared other Indian restaurants, but the items are still served family style and there are plenty of veggie options. The daily lamb special jumps out. Paolillo will break down a whole lamb from a local farmer, butchering the animal in house. They’ll use all cuts of the lamb to offer diners something different each day. One example is something Paolillo calls "spoon lamb." It’s a leg of lamb marinated overnight with a bouquet of spices including cardamom and saffron. They’ll slow braise the meat along with carrot, greens and tomatoes that will create a sauce for the lamb. There are also plans for lamb chops.
Paolillo and her husband, Nakul Patel, lived in Mumbai for nine years. They’ve traveled throughout India, including Punjab and the west coast. When she returned to America she wondered why restaurants in the states didn’t serve her favorite dishes that she sampled over in India. That’s something Mango Pickle will alleviate, taking a contemporary spin on dishes. There’s even desserts like carrot halwa, a traditional closer at Indian sweet shops that Paolillo compares to brownies.
Mango Pickle will also serve alcohol with cocktails using spices Paolillo’s mother-in-law uses in her chai. The chai chili margarita incorporates Feni, a cashew liqueur from India that’s made its way to many Chicago bars such as The Ladies’ Room and Bar Marta. Alas, there’s no Indian selections, like Kingfisher or Taj Mahal on the beer list: "That’s more nostalgic than anything," Paolillo said. "I think we have so much beer here that if someone wants a light-bodied, light-flavored beer like Kingfisher there are domestic beers that address that."
It’s not like Chicago brewers don’t make enough Indian Pale Ales anyway. Try explaining what an IPA is to someone from India. It’s difficult.
Take a look at the full menu below. Mango Pickle opens on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 5842 N. Broadway St.