Billy Dec and his Rockit Ranch Productions have finally shared what they intend to do with the Ay Chiwowa space in River North and its late-night liquor license. Chef Kevin Hickey (The Duck Inn, Bottlefork) is steering the former Mexican bar and eatery toward Italian. They’ll open Otto Mezzo this spring, according to a news release.
Otto Mezzo is billed as an Italian cocktail bar that will serve food after 2 a.m. After all, they can serve booze until 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 5 a.m. Sunday. The spot is influenced by Italian arts and cinema, with the release citing famous Italian movie director Federico Fellini as an inspiration. They’re crossing that with Italian jazz and hip hop using art deco design.
Hickey’s working on a menu of rotating pastas. Other dishes include truffle fonduta, nduja and burrata panino, and amaro flavored gelato and sorbet.
Former Drawing Room bartender Brandon Phillips, who helms the acclaimed beverages at Duck Inn, is developing the drinks. They’re mixing those sharable large-format cocktails, and Chicago reports they’re also making spiked gelato and espresso drinks.
While figuring out what to do with Ay Chiwowa, ownership fielded inquiries on the bar back in 2015. Hickey’s involvement was announced even earlier, as Rockit contemplated their options. Prior to Ay Chiwowa—which opened in 2014—Martini Ranch occupied the space, and it became popular with many late-night DJs playing house and techno music.