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Virgin Hotel Chicago Nabs Former 'Top Chef' Contestant to Revamp Menus

Rebecca LaMalfa comes over from Trenchermen

Rebecca LaMalfa
Rebecca LaMalfa
Virgin Hotels Chicago
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

This week, Virgin Hotel Chicago launches a new menu at Miss Ricky's under a new chef with national exposure. Rebecca LaMalfa, the former "Top Chef," contestant and executive sous chef at Trenchermen, joined The Virgin about two months ago. She's taken over kitchen chores at all four of the hotel's drink and food spots from opening chef Rick Gresh, who left in January.

"My goal for the restaurant is to really get us out there and be one of the premiere places to come and have a great brunch and breakfast, to have a nice casual dinner in a fun and entertaining atmosphere," LaMalfa said.

The Virgin Hotels Chicago is the chain's first U.S. hotel and it opened in February 2015. Guests will first see LaMalfa's influence on the new menus at the ground-floor diner Miss Ricky's (see below). But other changes will follow. For instance, LaMalfa said Cerise —the hotel's rooftop space— will soon have a revamped menu too.

Given Virgin's roots, LaMalfa's excited about serving authentic English breakfasts. They're even using bangers and blood sausage from Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods. LaMalfa's husband, Sixteen executive chef Thomas Lents, lived in Ireland and made the suggestion to his wife: "He was like: 'Dude, you have to have a fry-up on the menu, it's criminal if you don't,'" LaMalfa said.

Miss Ricky's also debuts daily specials that will eventually rotate seasonally. These "Red Door Specials" speak to old diner lore such as meatloaf Mondays and carnitas taco Tuesdays. They tested it out on Cinco de Mayo and sold out. "We have huge a Hispanic community around us in Chicago and we felt that was important and it's delicious," LaMalfa said.

Wednesdays will feature barbecue baby back ribs, while Thursdays feature double-cut pork chops, Fridays is a traditional fish fry with hush puppies. For Saturdays, LaMalfa dipped into her days in San Francisco at Michael Mina, as she will feature lobster pot pie. The specials conclude with corned beef and cabbage on Sunday, giving a salute to Chicago's Irish community.

The new menu will keep those boozy milkshakes, as well as the popular chilaquiles, as well as Breakfast Queen Ina Pickney's Heavenly Hots pancakes. LaMalfa will add a dish with two first names, spelled "Ruebenedict" (corned beef, poached eggs, grilled rye, hollandaise, pickles, Swiss). LaMalfa will also use her grandfather's Sicilian recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.

Check out the full menu below. In another note, the ever-busy Bow Truss has taken over as coffee supplier at the hotel.


203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 940-4774

Miss Rickys

203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 940-4777 Visit Website

Virgin Hotel

203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 940-4440