In a shocking Friday morning announcement, Spiaggia — the usual for Italian eating in Chicago during the last 37 years — gained’t reopen, a possession says they’re completely closed. Spiaggia, and its extra reasonably priced sibling, Cafe Spiaggia, had been closed since final 12 months on the nook of Michigan Avenue and Oak Road. The restaurant is a Chicago icon overlooking the Magazine Mile with views from the second flooring overlooking Oak Road Seashore.
Spiaggia falls below the umbrella of Levy Eating places, the corporate that additionally owns River Roast alongside the Chicago River. Possession says that they had the intention of reopening, however blamed the choice to shut on the shortcoming to strike an settlement with their landlord to restructure their lease “which was essential to mirror the realities of working a restaurant in an workplace constructing post-pandemic.”
Setting the usual for fantastic Italian eating has been our honor.
Celebrating it with you has been our pleasure.
— Spiaggia Restaurant (@SpiaggiaChicago) July 9, 2021
The restaurant was a important success, incomes 4 stars from former Tribune critic Phil Vettel. He described Spiaggia as “Chicago’s most interesting Italian restaurant.” The overview got here in 2014 after a significant renovation. The famed and opulent venue featured marble columns and beautiful views of town that helped earn Michelin stars for 12-straight years. The tire information hardly ever acknowledges Italian eating places in America, making the consideration distinctive. Tony Mantuano, the beloved Chicago chef who based Spiaggia in 1984, left the restaurant and Chicago in 2019. Mantuano, born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, additionally has Italian citizenship. He confirmed his love for the tradition and his household’s roots on the restaurant. After leaving Chicago, he opened a restaurant final 12 months in Nashville.
Mantuano despatched over an announcement Friday afternoon that talked about the restaurant’s necessary to him and his spouse: “Spiaggia allowed Cathy and me to deliver our beloved Italian tradition and hospitality to Chicago, and we are going to at all times be thankful for the visitors and neighborhood who supported the restaurant. Most of the gifted cooks and employees have gone on to make significant impacts on the culinary trade, and we all know they are going to at all times have a chunk of Spiaggia with them.”
Mantuano was a part of a wave of well-known Chicago cooks, together with Rick Bayless and Charlie Trotter, that each one began across the identical time. He spoke to Fooditor two years in the past and stated that Spiaggia might be outlined by its recent pastas and cooking over wooden and charcoal. The chef mused that these conventional strategies lengthy used at Spiaggia have been as soon as once more gaining favor amongst youthful cooks.
Spiaggia was a coaching floor for a lot of. Joe Flamm labored for years with Mantuano earlier than departing in 2019 to ultimately open Rose Mary in Fulton Market. Monteverde chef and proprietor Sarah Grueneberg spent eight years on the restaurant earlier than departing in 2013. Each cooks have been High Chef contestants, and that publicity introduced in new diners that helped develop Spiaggia’s buyer base.
Flamm, who celebrated the beginning of a daughter earlier this week, spoke with Mantuano on Friday. He talked about how the restaurant launched him to skills like Spiaggia alum and star New York chef Missy Robbins. He says he spent Friday texting with previous colleagues and having a digital Irish wake in sharing tales. “We used to joke with Tony, we would not be the most effective Michelin-starred restaurant, however we had probably the most enjoyable,” Flamm says.
Practically 4 a long time is an eternity for a restaurant, and Flamm in comparison with a Broadway present the place 10 years is taken into account wildly profitable: “Time comes for us all, eating places much more than most issues. It doesn’t make it harm much less.”
One of many restaurant’s secrets and techniques to success with Mantuano’s belief in his stuff. Whereas a sure issues couldn’t change — “a carbonara was a carbonara” — Flamm says Mantuano was prepared to take heed to new concepts, emboldening employees to share their concepts. That helped Spiaggia shine.
All through the pandemic, restaurant homeowners have made bargains with landlords, understanding that the suspension of indoor eating wouldn’t enable them to pay their rents. A scarcity of tourism and workplace employees in posed extra challenges to downtown eating places. There are additionally enterprise vacancies. As an illustration, Water Tower Place — the procuring middle positioned simply south of the 57-floor workplace constructing that housed Spiaggia — has been struggling discovering an anchor tenant to exchange Macy’s. On Friday morning, information broke that Goal had pulled out of the operating.
Flamm doesn’t assume the trade can return into time and duplicate what made Spiaggia nice. In some ways it was “a glimpse of old-world eating.”
“That they had a piano within the ceiling,” Flamm says, referring to what Spiaggia regarded like within the early ‘80s. “What number of eating places had that?”
Flamm provides: “It’s such a cherished piece of historical past, you simply can’t change historical past, it by no means works.”
This story has been up to date since Friday morning with remark from Tony Mantuano and Joe Flamm.