LINCOLN PARK — A year after a fire delayed its debut, Riccardo Enoteca is finally set to open its doors, bringing a unique style of wood-fired pizza and an assortment of small Italian plates to the neighborhood.
The 45-seat restaurant at 2116 N. Clark St., owned by renowned chef Riccardo Michi, is scheduled to open to the public Thursday night, directly across from his award-winning Riccardo Trattoria, which just received a Bib Gourmand designation from Michelin for the second straight year.
The eatery, in the building that used to house the Clark Bar, is centered around a wood-burning oven in an open kitchen that is visible to diners.
The oven will cook up rectangular pizzas that are thicker than the Neapolitan pies seen in many Chicago restaurants that use wood-burning ovens.
While the pizzas, topped with prosciutto, porcini mushrooms and other goodies, will not be as thick as a Chicago-style deep dish, Michi said he hopes they will be shared at the table.
The wood-burning oven is the only cooking tool in the kitchen, and will be used to serve up grigliata, Italian-style grilled meats, three fish dishes and pasta.
The menu will also feature Charcuterie, cheeses and cold appetizers as well as some non-Italian dishes such as paella.
"Here we are going to do it for the younger crowd," Michi said. "The idea is people try different things."
Although he originally planned for the space to be a wine bar, he wasn't able to get a license to allow patrons to drink who were not at the restaurant to eat.
Michi, who was born in Milan, said he will be splitting his time between both restaurants.
Last fall, a small fire at Riccardo Enoteca caused heavy smoke damage about a month before it was to open.
Riccardo's brother and co-owner Maurizio Michi, said smoke from the October 2011 fire "basically destroyed everything."
"The damage was mainly smoke, but the landlord had to take it down to the concrete," Riccardo Michi said.
"For me, the major thing is nobody got hurt."