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HGTV's Antonio Ballatore Curates Art-Centric Fame Bar in Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | July 19, 2013 9:31am
 Fame Bar Chicago hopes to open Friday, July 26 at 2015 W. Division St. in Wicker Park.
Fame Bar Readies for Opening at 2015 W. Division St.
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WICKER PARK — Looking for a brush with celebrity?

You might find it at Fame — at least on the walls of the new "art-centric bar" at 2015 W. Division St. in Wicker Park, in the former Paradise Cantina that closed in October. 

"I love the area and the opportunity presented itself, so we jumped on it," said Carrie Meghie, a principal with Becker Entertainment, which also owns Angels & Kings bar inside the Hard Rock Hotel at 230 N. Michigan Ave. and Mr. Brown's Lounge at 2301 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village.

A celebrity-themed art exhibition curated by Antonio Ballatore, host of HGTV's "The Antonio Treatment" will be the first show featured at the bar.

Brooklyn-based graffiti artist Lady Aiko anchors the exhibit with solo works as well as a permanent wallpaper treatment woven between framed pieces by artists Kenneth Cappello, Curtis Kulig, Lani Lee and Erik DeBat, among others.

Cappello and Kulig are avant-garde artists with works tied to prominent celebrities, leading magazines and commissions by global luxury brands, according to news release.

In addition to selecting the art for the bar, which will change seasonally, Ballatore designed the new interior and recruited chef Sammy DeMarco, known as "Sammy D," to conceive Fame's menu.

DeMarco described Chicago as "a food city" and said "Chicago celebrates its neighborhoods through its food."

In this spirit, DeMarco's been busy planning a menu that incorporates Chicago staples such as Fontanini's Italian Beef, which will be stuffed into dumplings; Lillie's Q's barbecue pork, which will be used in egg rolls, and summer sausage chips from Paulina Meat Market.

Other "Sammy D' Lite" shareable small-plate dishes include tuna nachos featuring diced tuna, plantain chips, roast pineapple salsa and sriracha mayo, as well as the FBBBLT (FAME’s Bao Bun BLT), which consists of Greek gyros meat on an mini bao bun with lamb bacon, lettuce, tomato, harissa mayo and tzatziki dip.

Vegetarian options at Fame include the "Avocado Toasty," with toasted whole grain bread, sliced avocado, tomato, cumin and yogurt.

To wash everything down, A DJ booth doubles as a "mixology stage" and will serve classic drinks and specialty cocktails using "super premium liquors, created in small batches, infused and aged in-house on a nightly basis," according to a new release. 

House cocktails include Pineapple Rum Punch, a Cucumber Martini with infused cucumber gin and a Bacon Manhattan with infused bacon bourbon.

The 2,000-square-foot restaurant — just west of the busy Damen and Division intersection that some consider to be the southern most edge of Wicker Park — seats 76 people and an additional 46 at a sidewalk cafe. 

If all goes as planned, Fame will open July 26, Meghie said.

Fame Bar, 2015 W Division St. Phone: 773-227-1110. Hours are 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays to Fridays; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays. To stay abreast of updates, visit Fame's Facebook Page or follow the bar on Twitter at @FameChicago.