Diners near McCormick Place are getting yet another new food option, as the owners of Bridgeport favorite Franco’s Ristorante are working towards opening a fine dining Italian restaurant in the South Loop. Il Culaccino is a 225-seater pegged for a spring opening at 2138 S. Indiana Avenue, inside the 35-story Arrive Lex Tower apartment building. It’s more good news for convention goers and locals in a neighborhood with a limited number of restaurants.
Franco’s has served Italian food since 1986 in Bridgeport. It’s owned by the Ruffolo family and in 2016 they remodeled their then-27-year-old restaurant. They own three more restaurants: Franco’s at the Fountain in Millennium Park, Franconello Italian Restaurant in the Beverly, and Jam ‘n Honey in Lincoln Park/DePaul.
Frank A. Ruffolo, who took over the business from his father, said they won’t have white tablecloths but they’re going more upscale. He wants to create a comfy space that attracts regulars, a restaurant where convention-goers stop by annually.
“I want to become a memory with their McCormick shows, to be a big part of their Chicago experience,” he said.
They’ll have weekly specials, small plates, and lots of seafood. Ruffolo isn’t ready to dish specific details on the menu. He’s also keen on service and said that’s what sets his family’s restaurants apart.
The restaurant’s name refers to the ring left by a glass of wine, and wine plays a big role in the decor. The walls will be covered with floor-to-ceiling wine racks, according to a news release. It’ll also have a patio enclosed by a retractable roof with room for 120.