After finding success last year with his first city restaurant, restaurateur Louie Alexakis is preparing to unleash his second Chicago restaurant in River North. Avli River North, the follow up to Avli Taverna in Lincoln Park and Avli Estiatorio in suburban Winnetka, is finally slated to open sometime in September in the former Sumi Robata Bar space at 702 N. Wells Street in River North, a news release announces.
The new restaurant continues Alexakis’ mission to expand Chicago diners’ Greek palettes beyond the Greek-American specialities in Greektown to more modern and creative flavors that exist in other markets, which he uses the term “inspired Greek” to describe. And while Avli Taverna is a neighborhood restaurant with a prominent bar program, burgers, and gyros, Avli River North will be more formal.
It will serve some dishes that are available in Lincoln Park — such as saganaki with honey and figs and prawns wrapped in filo dough — but it will also have some dishes including stuffed mini eggplants, tomato fritters, and Greek egg noodles with braised short ribs, manouri cheese purée, candied pine nuts, burnt currant dressing and fried mint leaves. A seven-course tasting menu dubbed “the Greek feast” will also be available for just $45, with an option to add wine pairings for $25 more. Avli River North will also have a bar focus, with a selection of Greek wines living on the wine list and acclaimed barman Peter Vestinos designing a cocktail list that includes twists on classics using Greek liquors.
The Sumi Robata Bar space held three floors — including a basement cocktail lounge and a picturesque patio — and Avli River North will make use of most of them. The first floor will hold the bar and a dining space, the main dining room as well as private dining will live on the second floor, and the patio will hold 56 seats. The design is inspired by summers in Greece — think lots of whites, wood, stucco and brick — the release trumpets.
Sumi Robata Bar closed in August 2017 and Alexakis announced five months later that he planned to open there in summer 2018. Now, a year after that, Avli is finally nearly ready to roll into River North. Stay tuned for more coverage.