There’s news in Andersonville, as a new Korean restaurant will open inside the former Brixton space. The restaurant’s called Passerotto and it’s from chef Jennifer Kim — one half of the team that opened Snaggletooth, the acclaimed cured fish specialists that had a one-year run in Lakeview. Despite the Italian name, Kim hopes to spotlight her Korean roots, pushing the understanding of Korean cuisine past charred meat.
They’re targeting a February opening at 5420 N. Clark Street. Like Snaggletooth, she wants to endear locals by opening a neighborhood hub. She envisions a restaurant where customers can show up in jeans and a T-shirt with an accessible menu for those who aren’t familiar with Korean food. Before Snaggletooth, she worked at C Chicago (now Ocean Cut Chicago) in River North, but said she prefers interacting with customers rather than not being seen in the kitchen. As a first-generation American, she fell into the trap and worried that others would pigeonhole her if she cooked food from her heritage. That’s not an uncommon story, as some diners are judgmental. Bo Fowler, who is also Korean, over at Owen and Engine has a similar story.
Kim’s no longer concerned with that and wants to share her culture with the residents of Andersonville. Children of immigrants adapt. Kim talks about her and her brother being latch-key kids. They ate spaghetti mixed with kimchi.
“I just want to share where I’ve come from and how Korean food has really influenced my life,” she said.
This restaurant is unlike any Chicago has ever seen. Chicago’s Korean population is centralized on the North Side, but Koreatown has deteriorated in Albany Park with Korean immigrants and their American children moving to the suburbs. While LA and New York have a thriving Korean restaurant scenes, Chicago’s is rather sparse. Parachute has a Michelin star. San Soo Gab San, a Korean barbecue, has Bib Gourmand status. Kim wants to show Korean food has a broad spectrum. It’s about more than short ribs grilled over an open flame.
Recent travels to Italy have influenced Kim, showing her parallels between food cultures. Sample menu items include sullungtang tortellini with braised oxtail, brodo, daikon radish, and lambrusco — Kim’s version of traditional Korean beef soup. She’s also working on jangjorim served with creamy rice. That’s a Korean side dish of soy-braised beef that Kim’s mother often served on weeknights. She’s not hating on Korean barbecue. Passerotto will also have large-format disses including “seasonal ssams.” That’s rotating meats wrapped with lettuce or sesame leaves accompanied by a variety of banchan.
The Brixton closed in 2016 and was taken over by Taverna 750. Kim said there won’t be major alterations to the space. The alcohol will include cocktails, large-format Korean-style beer and a small-production wine program.
Kim’s restaurant is receiving support from LM Restaurant Group, the owners of Troquet and Land & Lake Kitchen — as well as a catering business. Kim has the same autonomy as Diana Dávila, who has a similar arrangement with Mi Tocaya Antojeria, her acclaimed Logan Square restaurant. LM has the same set up with Bistronomic and chef/owner Martial Noguier.
Snaggletooth was a passion project, but both Kim and ex-business partner Bill Montagne have moved forward. While Kim is only focusing on dinner service, something her tiny fish deli couldn’t accommodate, there may be seafood in Passerotto’s future. Keep it here for more info as Kim inches closer to an opening.