Zach Engel earned a James Beard Award for his work with modern Israeli food in New Orleans, and now the decorated chef is hoping to find success in Chicago with the opening of the first restaurant of his very own. Galit debuts tonight in Lincoln Park, and the menu has a broader scope than Shaya, the New Orleans restaurant where Engel earned the Beard’s Rising Star Chef Award in 2017. Engel and GM Andrés Clavero are showcasing more of the Middle East with their restaurant by crossing countries with different versions of staples like kibbeh.
Engel and Clavero (a One Off Hospitality veteran who worked at Nico Osteria) converted a pizza parlor across the street from Lincoln Hall and around the corner from the legendary alley where bank robber John Dillinger met his demise. The space no longer looks like a pizzeria. This is a neighborhood restaurant from a pedigreed chef. They’ve worked hard on creating a welcoming place and writing a menu that explains Middle Eastern items to customers who may not be familiar with the region. And if diners remain unsure, eventually there will be a family-style coursed-out option where the staff will pick the food. They’ll also accommodate dietary restrictions. But vegetarians should find plenty of options as most of the items are meat free.
The interiors feature and open kitchen and hearth where Engel will bake pitas, one of his specialties. Kitchen counter seating is available as an option for customers who want to see the intricacies of pita making. There’s also an 8-foot grill that Engel designed. Don’t be shy, the grill doesn’t give off so much heat that customers at the kitchen counter would sweat.
Clavero and Engel want to grow with the neighborhood, surrounded by new restaurants like Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Dog Haus, and Bobby’s Lincoln Park. It’s all in the shadow of a sprawling new development at Lincoln and Fullerton where Children’s Memorial Hospital once stood. They’re eager to share a bit of their experiences traveling in the Middle East and their heritages with customers. Galit opens tonight and is one the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year.
Take a tour of the space below.