A new Wicker Park restaurnt that celebrates Italy’s hand-crafted pasta lifestyle is slated to open this summer season with a neighborhood industry veteran at the helm. Tortello, a pastificio (pasta store) and cafe at 1746 W. Division Street, is the creation of native Italian Dario Monni and his wife, Jill Gray. The pair have officially brought Duncan Biddulph (Lula Café, the Publican, Marisol, La Sardine) on board as govt chef. Monni and Gray also are flying in a sixty five-year-antique sfoglina (pasta maker) from Puglia, Italy, to share her great expertise with Biddulph and the kitchen workforce.
The neighborhood pasta eating place’s menu is not yet finalized and Biddulph wouldn’t deliver any specifics, but pics of plates piled with agnolotti, gnocchi, and strozzapreti (also called caserecce) are available on the restaurant’s Instagram. Homemade pasta is unique due to the fact it’s miles crafted carefully and with interest to element, he said, something that industrially produced versions lack. He has no qualms with machine-made pasta but stated he feels that the product’s “imperfections” and the wealth of experience that is going into homemade pasta are a part of a grand subculture really worth keeping.
In 2010, Biddulph spent about six months in Italy running with farmers and culinary artisans and studying approximately the USA’s strict culinary way of life, a much cry from the freewheeling, melting-pot approach commonplace to cooks in the United States.
“There become a dish, orecchiette with rapini and sausage. I attempted to place cheese on it and the woman that had organized the meal becomes like, ‘heck no guy, we don’t place cheese on that!’” he said. “I had my eyes opened to these basics of Italian cooking — very restricted, very austere in comparison to what we do within the U.S. It turned into eye-beginning to enjoy those simple pleasures and recognize the foundation of in which they came from.”
A selection of wines, beers, Italian cocktails, and coffee beverages can be to be had to Tortello clients, even though Biddulph did now not offer any info. The eating place will include a small retail space in which proprietors plan to sell Italian strong point goods decided on via Monni, in addition to pastries (Biddulph plans to make those in-residence), tomato sauce, and clean pasta to prepare dinner at home.
Drawing proposal from local produce is a key function of Italian cuisine, and Biddulph said his stories with Jason Hammel at Lula Café helped him create a network of farmers with whom he enjoys working. The emphasis on consuming what grows nearby “is a sentiment that’s echoed in the course of the Italian method,” he said. “Usually what they’re doing is they’re dealing with the food right around them. We’re going to embrace that same philosophy.”
Tortello’s interior, created by means of neighborhood firm Siren Betty Designs (past projects consist of Giant and Quote), will seat 35 diners and feature antique gadgets, which includes a 1930s-era Toledo meals scale, a twin version of the dimensions Monni’s grandfather used in his specialty meals save in Venice. Representatives did now not provide the restaurant’s square pictures. An additional 40 patio seats are to be had inside the hotter months, a feature proprietors hope will contribute to a friendly, bustling surrounding harking back to an Italian piazza, or metropolis rectangular.
Biddulph has more than 18 years of industry revel in, with a resume that includes govt chef positions at Rootstock and Kinmont, in addition to the Winchester, following a one-yr kitchen hiatus in Nashville after his marriage in 2015. He spent his early years at Lula Café, in which beneath Hammel’s tutelage he labored his manner up from a brunch cook dinner to the function of sous chef.