One of the staples of RPM Steak — the collaboration between celebrity couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic and Chicago’s largest restaurant company, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises — has been serving limited edition items that feature rare ingredients. For example, a $180 wagyu cutlet sandwich popped up in July 2018. Some of these specials will appear as regular items at RPM On The Water (317 N. Clark Street), the new riverfront restaurant opening later this year. It’s part of a massive building that holds two restaurants and a private events space.
“We love being the centerpiece of the river,” said LEYE partner and chef Doug Psaltis.
Psaltis has worked with the RPM division, developing menus and collaborating with the Rancics on the family of RPM restaurants which include RPM Italian locations in River North and Washington, D.C. The Midwest is ready for RPM’s takes on seafood, Psaltis said, and that RPM and Lettuce have grown relationships with fishermen all over the world. King crab, “the best of the best prawns,” and “a great collection of lobsters” will be on the menu.
Last year, outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped announce RPM On The Water’s arrival with LEYE founder Rich Melman. Emanuel, reportedly, wouldn’t mind if the Chicago Riverwalk is named after him, as he envisions it as a second waterfront. Given that it sits in front of public space, there’s a need to cater to tourists that may not be into fine dining. Without a Steak n’ Shake nearby, that means there’s a need to satisfy visitors from places like Indiana. Some casual customers will just flock to Pizzeria Portofino, the laid-back space that’s opening in June in the same building. Regardless, LEYE doesn’t want RPM On The Water to be intimidating like one of Lettuce’s most beloved seafood restaurants. L20 closed in 2014 in Lincoln Park after Michelin-starred success.
“We won’t be as fancy as L20 by far,” Psaltis said.
Some folks still have seafood aversions. So RPM On The Water will also serve steak, and there will be more than the just a token selection. Psaltis’s voice lights up talking about grass-fed Chianina, a breed of beef from Tuscany in Italy. It’s used in bistec fiorentina, and it’s not easily found in America.
A variety of riverfront restaurants are debuting this year including Batter & Berries, Beat Kitchen, and Chiya Chai. RPM On The Water and Pizzeria Portofino add to that diversity. LEYE’s goal is to make customers feel like they’re in Italy, and Psaltis feels pizza complements seafood.
“What would be down the hill but an amazing pizzeria with a bottle of rosé?” he said.
Psaltis mentioned the riverfront’s transformation and in the same breath talked about the controversial Lincoln Yards development planned for the former steelyards in between Bucktown and Lincoln Park. He called the changes along the river a means for a “celebration of Chicago.” They’ve brought on the Rockwell Group to design the space at Clark and the Chicago River. The space includes two private terraces, a patio, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
RPM On The Water should open this fall. Pizzeria Portofino should open in June, followed by the private event space, RPM Events On The Water.