Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm Outta Here!


Hey, this isn't really goodbye.

It's more like farewell from blogspot. It had gotten to a point where I found this space a bit constraining for what I really wanted to do, plus I couldn't connect directly with you.

Also: I've been incredibly busy with many other projects, including for Chicago Travel for, Priceless Chicago for MasterCard and The Pursuit of Good Food for Lexus/WXRT-FM.

I have continued to post as 312 Dining Diva, and you can find me on the official 312 Dining Diva Facebook page (Sign up to see what's going on!), where I am regularly covering local and national stories as well as the usual dining and drinking trends.

So, I hope to see you soon!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Brendan Sodikoff Drops 'Italian Bar' Concept From Cocello, Opens April 22 With 40 Percent Off

Photos courtesy of Hogsalt Hospitality

"It's feeling really good!" exclaims Brendan Sodikoff about his latest project, an Italian-focused eatery named Cocello, which 312DD exclusively told you about in March.

What's different is that the concept is no longer an "Italian steak bar." "We ran out of room on the menu and dropped the steak focus," explains Sodikoff. "I fell in love with the lighter feel and emphasis on classic regional Italian food, Negronis, great coffee and Italian wines."


A sneak peek of the opening menu revealed that the restaurant will feature four plays on the traditional Italian aperitif: classic (gin, campari, sweet vermouth), white (gin, cocchi, dry vermouth), rye (rye, campari, sweet vermouth) and cognac (cognac, sweet vermouth, chartreuse).

The food menu features a number of hand-made pasta, seafood and vegetable-focused dishes. We're especially looking forward to the whole-roasted turbot as well as porchetta of stuffed pork belly, rosemary and roast garlic. There will be limited availability on both items.

Cocello soft opens on April 22 and through Thursday it will offer 40 percent off food. It officially opens to the public Friday, April 25.

Here are the first-ever images of the interior, food and drinks:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nouveau Tavern Makes Racial Claims Against Chicago Police Dept.; Says They Were 'Shut Down' Because Owners Are Black

Nouveau Tavern's intimate interior (Photo: Nouveau Tavern)

The New Orleans-inspired Nouveau Tavern opened in River North only six months ago, yet it was abruptly shuttered last Friday by the Chicago Police Department, according to Eater Chicago:

"Sources say that current Nouveau ownership is ineligible for a liquor license because of a felony conviction and the establishment was operating under previous ownership's expired licensing. Police responded to a complaint last week which lead to an investigation and the subsequent closure."

NT consultant Teddy Gilmore—who admits to a tax evasion felony conviction from the late 1990s—tells 312DD that the restaurant's partners do not have felony records. He adds that Nouveau, which re-opened Monday, is being unfairly targeted because the neighbors and police do not want an influx of African Americans frequenting the neighborhood.

Additionally, partner Marsette Magnum released a full statement regarding the situation exclusively to 312DD:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Bar Rescue' Star Jon Taffer Gets Shut Down By Three Dots and a Dash's Paul McGee

Jon Taffer (left) and Paul McGee

I get frequent pitches from the publicists behind Jon Taffer—the acerbic host of Spike TV's "Bar Rescue"—who push him as "an internationally recognized, award-winning hospitality expert, highly respected management guru, author of the ultimate guide to running a bar/restaurant/nightclub entitled 'Raise The Bar,' and a esteemed tastemaker and go-to source for the newest trends in the food, beverage & nightlife industries."

With those credentials, you'd think he'd know which spots to target for his show—which claims to "give failing nightlife establishments one last chance at success."

Apparently not in Chicago.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Only One Chicago Chef Makes The Cut For Food & Wine's Annual 'Best New Chef' List

Dave Beran photo via James Beard Foundation

It's that time of year again, and Food & Wine announced Tuesday its annual list of what it considers "the culinary superstars of the future."

On that list is Dave Beran, the hot shot chef who first worked under Grant Achatz at Alinea before he went on to take over the reigns as chef de cuisine at Achatz's ground-breaking Next restaurant when it opened in 2011.

Frankie Knuckles Passes Away at 59


The legendary deejay/music producer/house music innovator Frankie Knuckles has passed away in his Chicago home, according to a number of media outlets.

Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot writes in an obit Tuesday:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Travelle Hosts Internationally Renowned Mixologist; Best Chicago Steakhouses For Cocktails

London-based bartender Alex Kratena (Photo courtesy of Wagstaff Worldwide)

He's best known for his beautiful drinks, and Chicago imbibers will get their first opportunity to meet the award-winning mixologist Alex Kratena when he conducts a two-day residence at the Langham Hotel's Travelle.

Kratena holds down the fort at Artesian Bar at The Langham in London, and March 27-28, we will get to find out why his accolades include “The World’s Best Cocktail Menu” at Tales of the Cocktail (2011), “World’s Best Hotel Bar” and “International Bartender of the Year” at Tales of the Cocktail (2012), and “The World’s Best Bar,” an award sponsored by Drinks International Magazine (2012).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Brendan Sodikoff Replaces Dillman's With 'Italian Steak Bar' Concept Named Cocello

Expect more delicate cuts like Bavette's filet mignon when Cocello opens in April. (Photo: Bavette's Bar & Boeuf )

Whatever you do, do not call Cocello a steakhouse concept. The latest dining-and-drinking project by Brendan Sodikoff and his group Hogsalt Hospitality, Cocello is described by the red-hot restaurateur as an "Italian steak bar."

On April 14, Cocello takes over the venue currently housing Dillman's, which specializes in classic Jewish deli fare. Sodikoff tells 312DD exclusively that he will close Dillman's on April 6 and reopen it as Dillman's Pastrami Shop in a next door space this summer.

But where did the name and concept for Cocello (pronounced "co-chell-o") come from?!