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.
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.
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).