Some sad news for fans of Italian food downtown. After nearly 10 years in River North, Osteria La Madia owners announced they will close on Saturday. The restaurant’s lease was set to expire, said owner Jonathan Fox, and it was time to exit the increasingly competitive Chicago’s restaurant scene. Fox will focus on consulting and the continued growth of his Firecakes Donuts chain.
“I’m sure they’ll put another great restaurant here,” Fox said on Wednesday night. “But everything takes its course, and I just feel it was the time to move on.”
Fox informed his employees on Wednesday and some of them will continue to work for Fox at Firecakes or helping him with his consultancy. Fox has seen the neighborhood and his restaurant evolve through the years. He changed menus and names in November 2014, switching from the original moniker La Madia. The signature Neapolitan pizzas remained, but Fox added pastas, cured meats, and craft cocktails to compete with trendier restaurants in the area.
“When we opened 10 years ago, there were fewer restaurants and less of a concentration of competitiveness,” Fox said. “There wasn’t even a Neapolitan pizzeria a block away from here, which there is now.”
Nearby construction snarled some foot traffic in the area and also eliminated the restaurant’s outdoor patio, which hurt. However, Fox said he’s a “restaurateur through and through” and wants to run another. It’s too early for conjecture, but Fox leaves a clue to his future by noting that he’s visited Italy more than any other country. So fans of Osteria La Madia may have a chance to dine at a new Fox restaurant soon. But for now, he’s thankful of the guests that have patronized his restaurant since 2007.
“I just have a deep appreciation for the people that have only shared experiences here, but those that became friends of ours and our staff,” Fox said.
Old friends have until Saturday to meet up at Osteria La Madia.