The owners of Adalina, an upcoming Italian restaurant, are looking to bring more of a “upscale and elegant atmosphere” inside the Gold Coast space they took over. Co-owners Matt Deichl and Phil Siudak are mixing nightclub prowess with an ace team with fine dining experience. The chef is Soo Ahn, last seen leading the kitchen at Band of Bohemia, the only American brewpub with a Michelin star before it closed last year.
Other big-name talent will join Ahn when the restaurant opens in mid-June at 912 N. State Street inside the former Walton Street Kichen space. Pastry chef Nicole Guini is a Jean Banchet winner for her work at Blackbird, the West Loop icon that closed last year. The restaurant also recently hired sommelier Alexandra Thomas (RPM Seafood, Spiaggia). Thomas will stock a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar that holds 3,000 bottles.
Siudak’s worked for years with Gibsons Restaurant Group. He says this summer Chicago’s restaurants will be busier than ever. Restaurateurs have been saying for years that Gold Coast is primed to see an influx of younger customers in the same way neighborhood Old Town has seen an uptick. It might actually happen this year: “I think this Chicago summer will be crazy,” Siudak says.
Deichl’s experience comes with BDG Hospitality, owners of LiqrBox in River North and the Chicago location of Bounce Sporting Club. Working at clubs brings an eye for detail. They’ve added an Italian chandelier to the Adalina space with 150,000 crystals that will hang over antique mirrors. They’ve knocked down walls, added a first-floor bar, and created a lounge that will feel more intimate versus the previous tenant’s layout.
While restaurants worry about filling jobs, there’s a significant pool of chef talent left unemployed due to the pandemic. That breeds opportunity: “I think it allows us a great opportunity to work with some incredible chefs,” Deichl says.
And that’s how Ahn entered the picture. The chef brought an unorthodox approach to his menu at Band of Bohemia where he dazzled diners with his simple preparation of a carrot, a dish that grew so popular that it was sold at Time Out Market food hall. More than half of the menu, whether it’s pasta or side dishes will be vegetarian. But there also dishes like a Chilean bass Vesuvio (a spin on the classic Chicago item) and a charred octopus with goat cheese and sunchokes.
Fried food fans will also be pandered to with a cacio pepe arancini with guanciale and parmesan fonduta. Another of Ahn’s star dishes will be gnocco fritto, a dish inspired by the street markets of Bologna. It’s an pillowy fried pastry served with wildflower honey, whipped ricotta, and prosciutto; Ahn says it will satisfy everyone’s sweet, savory, and crunchy cravings. The chef adds that he’s thankful to be working. Band of Bohemia closed after his departure under a cloud of controversy with allegations of a toxic workplace levied against ownership. Beyond those concerns, the pandemic overall has been challenging for a restaurant industry that couldn’t count on on-premise dining.
“I’m on Cloud Nine right now to be able to open in the middle of summer,” Ahn says.
Deichl and Siudak are joined by partners Miles Muslin and Jonathan Gillespie. Siudak says the goal is to eventually form a full-fledged hospitality group and open other ventures. But right now, the focus is on Downtown Chicago. Though downtown has seen slower foot traffic since 2020 and some are very vocal about abandoning Chicago and moving, Deichl is a native.
“We believe in the city, the resilience of it, ourselves, and our team,” he says.
Take a look a Adalina’s menu below.
Adalina, 912 N. State Street, planned for a mid-June opening.