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Rosebud Trattoria Closes, New 'Farm-Focused' Restaurant to Replace It

By Janet Rausa Fuller | March 27, 2013 7:16am | Updated on March 27, 2013 9:01am

RIVER NORTH — Changes are coming to the Rosebud restaurant group.

Peter Balodimas is stepping aside as corporate chef and taking the now-closed Rosebud Trattoria in River North with him.

The restaurant at 445 N. Dearborn St. served its last customers Saturday, and Balodimas is taking over the lease. Demolition will begin next week. When it reopens this summer, it will have a new look, a new name — Domestic — and a menu that will dare to not be all local all the time.

"The phrase 'farm-to-table' is bastardized," Balodimas said. "It's going to be very farm-focused, but I'm going to be drawing from across America.

"For me to be 'local,' within a 100-mile radius, I'd be losing out on a lot of great ingredients."

A block away, another Rosebud property, Bar Umbriago at 6 W. Hubbard St., is prepping for a rehaul. Chef Joe Farina, Balodimas' predecessor as Rosebud corporate chef, will oversee that project.

Balodimas, 33, has been with the Rosebud group for 10 months. He said he and owner Alex Dana agreed it would be a good move for Balodimas to branch out on his own.

"River North is huge. It's the area to be in for real estate, for restaurants, and I saw this as an opportunity to put in a concept that will be with the times," Balodimas said.

The working menu for Domestic looks nothing like a Rosebud.

Bar snacks such as deviled eggs and smoked pecan "Cracker Jacks" will share menu space with housemade Charcuterie platters (beef, pork, lamb, duck, rabbit) and a range of starters and main dishes.

Domestic cheeses will be plates unto themselves. A Roth Kase buttermilk blue from Wisconsin, for example, will come with stout taffy, pickled cherries and cocoa nibs. The drink menu will be heavy on local and craft brews as well as bourbon and whiskey.

The Southern tinge running through Balodimas' dishes — fried oysters with pickled okra and jalapeno jam, a smoked pork ribeye with pickled cherries and biscuits — is no accident. Balodimas' first job was at Heaven on Seven, Jimmy Bannos' venerable Cajun joint.

"Not that we're going to be a Southern restaurant, but I have that influence ingrained in me," said Balodimas, a Kendall College graduate who has worked at Spiaggia and Tin Fish and owned Fahrenheit in St. Charles.

Balodimas is not out the door just yet. While Domestic takes shape, he also will revamp the menu at Rosebud Prime, 1 S. Dearborn St., much as he did a few months ago at Rosebud Steakhouse in Streeterville.