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A chef uses tongs to plate a pasta dish in a restaurant kitchen.
Chef Marcello Florio has taken over the kitchen at 312 Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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312 Chicago, the Loop’s 25-Year-Old Italian Haunt, Reopens After Three Years

The downtown favorite returns with a new chef in time for its birthday

After three years of waiting, the many fans of longtime Italian favorite 312 Chicago finally have reason to celebrate. The quarter-century-old restaurant institution reopened last month for the first time since March 2020 at 136 N. LaSalle Street in a newly renovated space that’s connected to the Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel.

A spacious, 280-seat affair that’s well-located for theatergoers and politicians from nearby City Hall, 312 Chicago has polished up its dining room, bar, tasting room, and mezzanine without straying too far from its original design. Black and cream tones run throughout the space, complimented by dark wood fixtures and an open kitchen with a chef’s table where patrons can engage with the restaurant’s new chef, Italian native Marcello Florio. Customers can also expect the same striking city views through large windows that fill the spaces with sunlight.

A dining room with dark wood tables and booths with white upholstery.
312 Chicago is back after three years of hibernation.
A long, curved granite bar with tall backed bar stools.
The bar offers Italian, French, and American wines by the glass and bottle.
A dish of seared chicken covered in lemon cream sauce.
Pollo al limone (pan seared chicken, artichokes, caper berries, lemon cream sauce).

Florio, a native of Pescara, Italy who studied cooking at G. Marchitelli Culinary Institute in Abruzzo, has introduced breakfast and lunch menus and plans to soon launch dinner options too. Midday and evening options include fritto misto with calamari, shrimp, and banana peppers, pasta such as spaghetti allo scoglio in a lemon-tomato broth, and pan-seared salmon with fregola sarda and golden beet volute. Menus will change seasonally and patrons can expect plenty of specials and additions, according to a rep.

The bar, attuned to those who prefer pre-show drinks to dinner, emphasizes Italian wines by the glass and bottle. There are also cocktails, including the slightly green-tinted Pescara (Fernet Branca, green chartreuse, lime) and 312 Old Fashioned (Basil Hayden, maple syrup, Agnostura). To top it all off, the team is planning to soon launch a dog-friendly patio along LaSalle.

A smiling male chef uses tongs to stir pasta on a stovetop.
Italian chef Marcello Florio seems to have a penchant for seafood.
A chef uses tongs to move a pasta dish from a skillet to a bowl.
The chef is reviving the restaurant’s rooftop garden to source produce and herbs.

Founded in 1998 by prolific Chicago chef Dean Zanella, 312 Chicago billed itself as an American restaurant with Italian influences. Over the subsequent years, the chef began to invoke bolder, and in his view more authentic, Italian techniques and flavors. Zanella, who left 312 in 2008, is now a co-owner and chef at Tripoli Tap, a Boston-influenced bar and restaurant in Lincoln Park. He’s also got a new project in Avondale in the works.

Look around the freshly revamped restaurant and peruse its new menu items in the photographs below.

312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle Street, Open 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (breakfast) and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch) Tuesday through Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (breakfast) and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch).

A spacious bar and dining room.
312 Chicago seats 280 in total.
A seating section with windows looking out on a theater marquee.
Theater fans have long appreciated the restaurant’s convenient location.
A long curved granite bar lined with backed barstools.
Fans have waited for years to get back to this bar.
A long rectangular plate of salmon with vegetables.
Pan-seared salmon (fregola sarda, asparagus, golden beet volute).
A plate of braised short ribs with sauce.
Brasato (braised short ribs, mascarpone-parsnip polenta, green beans).
A plate of spaghetti with marinara.
Spaghetti e stracciatella with roasted garlic marinara.
A plate of fried calamari and shrimp with banana peppers.
Fritto misto (calamari, shrimp, banana peppers, goat cheese).
A plate of avocado toast.
Avocado toast (whipped ricotta, egg, crispy leeks, basil-oil cured tomatoes).
A section of a dining room with dark wood booths and tables.
Breakfast and lunch menus are available, and dinner is expected to soon follow.
A red-pink cocktail in a rocks glass with an orange peel twist garnish.
An Old Fashioned in a rocks glass.
A cocktail topped with a cherry garnish.
A green cocktail with a dried lime and basil leaf garnish.

Grass is Greener (Hendrick’s, St. Germain, egg white, lime, basil).

A cup of sliced fruit with honey and yogurt.
Frutta mista (berries, bananas, chia seeds, wildflower honey, vanilla yogurt).
A section of a dining room with dark wood tables and white upholstered chairs.

312 Chicago

136 North La Salle Street, , IL 60602 (312) 325-7100 Visit Website
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