River North received a pre-Christmas surprise last week, as Marchesa, the restaurant replacing Crofton on Wells, opened at 535 N. Wells Street. The restaurant was to open in the spring, but there were a few delays and friends and family services only started two weeks ago. The fine-dining menu combines French, Italian, and Spanish with a three-floor, 6,500-square-foot space that includes a champagne bar on the first floor.
The restaurant isn’t offering its full menu just yet, according to a spokeswoman: look for that in January. Marchesa’s owners, Jason Clark and Kathryn Sullivan Alvera, together worked at Prosecco, the Italian restaurant in River North. There’s a chef’s table on Marchesa’s first floor and an event space — a champagne cave — for as many as 50 guests. The second floor houses another private dining room (called The Apartment) for 15 to 50 guests and has been already been reserved for holiday parties. There’s also a baby grand piano on the second floor.
The menu includes a duck breast with foie gras with a cherry port reduction. Eventually they’ll add caviar service, paella Valenciana, and a porcini ravioli with black truffle sauce and shaved truffles. Wine is much of the restaurant’s focus. They’ll focus on Spain, Italy, France, and the U.S., while providing selections across a variety of price points. The space has an underground vault stocked with magnums of red wine.
The space is described as having an “Art Deco bent” and inspired by the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice. The team is slowly adding more to the decor and expects the room to be fully ready sometime in January. They’re also hosting a New Year’s Eve party with a masquerade’s ball theme.
Crofton on Wells closed in 2012 and Marchesa hopes to bring some electricity back to the space. Come back after New Year’s Day for a more detailed look at the menu and space, but for now Marchesa, albeit with a truncated menu, is open.