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Wicker Park’s New Pasta Palace Mesmerizes a Critic

Plus a review of Next’s homage to José Andrés

A plate of pork vindaloo nachos
90th Meridian
Sarah Zelman/90th Meridian Kitchen & Bar [Official Photo]

Tortello puts on an “immersive pasta performance” in Wicker Park. The new Italian restaurant offers passersby an opportunity to watch products being made through the storefront window, which Mike Sula calls “a promotional act worthy of P.T. Barnum, just as mesmerizing but far more appetizing than ogling a Fiji mermaid.” The “assiduously al dente” pastas are available in options like chiusoni in saffron cream; prosciutto-stuffed capelli del prete in mushroom sauce; and tortelli filled with burrata. Airy focaccia also has a discernible crunch and when smeared with ricotta and honey, it becomes a “standout ancillary carb.” [Reader]

Phil Vettel reviews Next’s current José-Andrés-themed menu. The dishes are inspired by the celebrated chef’s greatest hits and span a number of different countries. It starts with a spread of tapas, featuring pan con tomate; crispy bread topped with sea urchin and lardo; and a “taco” of jamon Iberico topped with golden osetra caviar. Asian influences can be felt on kueh pai ti stuffed with shrimp, fermented black beans, and sweet chile sauce, while modern Andrés bites include a “Philly cheesesteak” of wagyu beef over cheddar-filled air bread. For dessert, there’s a Buddha figure — made with jellied lychee, strawberries, and ginger ale — served in a bathtub filled with lychee foam. [Tribune]

90th Meridian delivers robust lunch and happy hour offerings in the Loop. Executive chef Miles Schaefer achieves “pleasure on the plate” by bringing a “sophisticated, vegetable-forward California sensibility to global cuisine.” Every dish has “at least one well-executed surprise among its layered flavors” according to Joanne Trestrail. Tuna crudo is paired with a smoked egg yolk that “gives it a push in an unexpected direction” while “superb” miso shrimp atop sesame soba noodles with mushroom dashi is “as delicious as you’ll find at any purebred Japanese restaurant.” And the banh mi French dip is a “clever mashup” of Vietnamese and Italian beef that boasts pho-braised short rib, basil chimichurri, pickled veggies, and jalapenos on a baguette, with pho dipping broth on the side. [Crain’s]


1746 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-1293 Visit Website


953 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 Visit Website

90th Meridian Kitchen & Bar

231 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL (312) 929-3948 Visit Website