— The ground-floor restaurant at the Conrad Chicago in River North on Friday launched a new menu with a new chef. Il Tavolino also secured a new liquor license, according to a spokeswoman. Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval developed the restaurant, along with the Conrad’s two other restaurants (Noyane, Baptiste and Bottle). Their new executive chef is Thomas Hines who started in July after coming over from Viceroy Snowmass Resort. Check out the menu and drink list below for the casual Italian spot.
— Little Toasted, the younger, yet larger sibling of Slightly Toasted (the all-day cafe and bar in West Loop) is opening a new patio today at 300 S. Riverside Plaza. The patio has room for 200 and has two portable bars with a combo of plush and traditional seating, according to a news release. Customers can play Jenga or Cornhole and try Little Toasted’s new snow cones.
— Enemy Kitchen, a mobile art exhibit that debuted in 2003 in New York, has launched a Kickstarter. The project is a food truck that serves Iraqi food and brings together American war vets and the public to talk about the Middle East’s perception among Westerners and its food. Founder Michael Rakowitz and his mother gathered recipes from the Baghdad area and shared them while running the truck, which has a performance aspect too. They’re hoping to challenge how Americans see Iraqis. Rakowitz said the truck’s been vandalized and needs work; they haven’t used in five years. Using $30,000 in Kickstarter funds, they hope to fix the truck and park it in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Streeterville and restart operationn. There’s 10 days left in the fund-raising campaign and they’ve raised more than $23,000.
— This Saturday, crowds packed the grounds outside The Nation of Islam headquarters, 7351 S. Stony Island, to eat food from black-owned restaurants at the first-ever Taste of Black Chicago. Many vendors quickly sold-out of their food, but customer response was positive. Black Chicago Eats organized event. However, it seems the group — which promotes Black-owned restaurants — has cancelled its “Everybody Eats Foodie Awards” which was to take place on Friday, Aug. 25. Despite the set back, many fans want this new taste to return and become an annual occurrence.
— Half Acre Brewing’s new taproom debuted on Saturday for those who had tickets for its Big North one-day festival at the brewery, 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. in Bowmanville. Crews still need to complete work on the space, but it’s huge with multiple seating options — big booths and theatre seats. There’s also a window so customers can look inside the kitchen. Look for more taproom coverage later this week.
— Piece Pizza’s Billy Jacobs has another promotion up his sleeves in Wicker Park. The owner of the thin-crust pizzeria which features New Haven-style pizza is offering up a special on Tuesday in collaboration with the Happy Lobster Food Truck: Lobster pizza. It comes in one size for dine-in only, and they’re charging $27.99 for the pie.