A former chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Schwa wants to focus on one thing in the kitchen: mastering the art of making noodles. That’s why Wilson Bauer and partner Alice Richter plan to soon open a cozy pasta shop in West Town with a menu that will rotate daily. Flour Power should open this late this month or in early March at 1642 W. Chicago Avenue inside a 640-square-foot space — the former De Pasada Mexican restaurant.
The Kickstarter description mentions “silky spaghetti, creamy carbonara, and luscious lasagna,” and that “your tastebuds will be transported to the Tuscan hills and the Umbrian countryside.” Bauer and Richter recently launched the crowdfunding campaign with the hope of raising $12,000. They’ve accrued more than $17,000, which is well beyond the original goal. Bauer left Schwa two years ago and with Richter, they’ve hosted an underground dinner series called Chicago, Washington. It was a nod to Bauer’s hometown of Seattle.
Bauer, who enjoys the versatility of noodles, is enamored with pasta making. While diners won’t see intricate platings or rare truffles — the type of presentation a fine diner may enjoy — Bauer said his noodles will offer plenty of depth and creativity. Richter will handle much of front-of-the-house responsibilities. Together, the couple has an 18-month-old named Miller Richter. Opening a restaurant not only gives Bauer a creative outlet, but it will hopefully help pay some of the bills associated with raising a child, the two said.
“I like making pasta, I don’t like making cheeseburgers, I don’t like making tacos,” Bauer said. “It’s easy, quick serve with a fast turnaround where I can get to a point I can master it relative to what I’m doing elsewhere.”
The noodles will have a European focus: there won’t be ramen — at least, Bauer’s not immediately planning on it. The daily menu will include three or four pastas with different sauces. Bauer is thinking two extruded, one hand shaped or stuffed, and another baked. The bowls will cost $12 to $13 each. He’ll also offer sliced meats as options for those who want extra protein. The restaurant will be BYO, with room for about 16 diners.
Fresh pastas are trending across the country and in Chicago. Daisies in Logan Square, Tortello in Wicker Park, and Torchio Pasta Bar in River North are all examples of recent successes. Richter is particularly excited about the rewards for donating money to the Kickstarter. Of the available rewards left, Richter feels a local could really benefit by pledging $1,500 for a year of fresh pasta.
Besides Schwa — where the couple met — Bauer worked at Grace, the now-closed three-Michelin-starred restaurant. He’s also worked at Elizabeth in Lincoln Square. Bauer said he learned how to make pasta at Restaurant Zoë, a Seattle restaurant that closed in 2016.
Chicago Avenue continues its ascension as one of the most popular strips for restaurants in town. Jeong, Porto, Funkenhausen, Soule, Yuzu, and Forbidden Root are just some of the popular restaurants along the street. Flour Power should bring another bit of much-needed diversity to the area, giving the neighborhood a creative and affordable place to dine.
Block Club first reported about the restaurant.
Flour Power, 1642 W. Chicago Avenue, planned for a late February or early March opening.