WICKER PARK — The jury is in on the first bites of a roasted turkey sandwich at a new Wicker Park lunch spot just steps from an intersection known for its thriving restaurants and music venues.
"It's really, really good," said Amanda Kohl, a 30-year-old media consultant who works across the street from Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., which combines a butcher shop and deli, steak house and arts and music venue.
Kohl was among the first to check out the new lunch spot during its soft opening week.
"We'll probably come for dinner next week too," Kohl said Thursday of the Chop Shop's upstairs restaurant, which opens at 5 p.m. Friday.
As Kohl was wrapping up lunch with coworkers, Logan Square resident Roger Brownsworth was walking out of the Chop Shop with a plastic bag containing three pounds of whole fryer chicken cut into quarters.
Brownsworth spent $6.22 on the poultry, a price "cheaper than Whole Foods," he said.
Later, he said the meal "tasted great with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce."
Housed in a long-vacant auto body garage, Chop Shop's two-story building was purchased in August 2011 by investor Nick Moretti. He later brought on co-owners Mario Minelli of Minelli Meats and Deli and Matt Woodburn to book and manage the 1st Ward, a 500-person capacity event space in the back of the complex.
Chop Shop's deli/butcher was scheduled to open at 9 a.m. Friday while the sit-down restaurant which seats 100 will greet its first patrons at 5 p.m. Friday. A few weeks ago, Dose Market held an indoor shopping bazaar at the space, planned for every Sunday through Dec. 15.
Created by head chef Joshua Marrelli (formerly with Little Italy's Urban Union), the Chop Shop's dinner menu is divided into four sections: starters, butcher cuts, standards and side dishes.
Starters include a selection of meats with crusty bread, a 5-piece jumbo shrimp cocktail, a "wilted kale" salad with shaved mushrooms, and a "stone fruit salad" with grilled peaches, pickled onion and toasted almonds.
The selection of chef butcher cuts includes a 10-ounce New York Strip steak with Bearnaise sauce and potato puree ($32); a 10-ounce bone-in pork chop with roasted parsnip puree, bourbon quince butter and Bartlett pears ($25); and rib eye ($34) and hangar steaks with fries ($19).
The dining room is furnished with blonde wood tables and bright red chairs.
Dinner menu standards include burgers, sausages with peppers, crispy skin-on salmon, pan-roasted half chicken, gnocchi pasta and a chopped salad.
Dinner sides include sea-salted fries, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi, mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash and rapini, which is similar to broccoli.
To wash everything down, the bar offers 20-plus varieties of red and white wines priced from 8 to $14 per glass as well as bottles and draft beers from off Color, Half Acre and Metropolitan breweries.
Dan De Los Monteros, formerly with Aviary and Bedford, designed the cocktails which are $10 and use syrups with fruit and vegetable purees.
For those looking to cook at home like Brownsworth, The Chop Shop's website wasn't kidding with its promises of an "overwhelming assortment of quality meats and cheeses."
Chop Shop's butchery offers three cases (and several cuts) of raw pork, beef, steak, and chicken, while a deli counter case showcases ready-to-slice meats like salami and prosciutto, and Parmesan, bleu and Muenster cheeses.
In addition to fresh food, there is dried pasta and canned or jarred foods like house made pickles for sale too.
For a quick (and cheap) lunch or dinner, Chop Shop's hot sandwiches range in price from $6 to $8 and are served on 7-inch slices of Turano French bread.
Hot sandwiches include Italian Beef (add 50-cents for sweet or hot peppers), sausage, meatball, BLT, and turkey. On the lighter side, a veggie panini is stuffed with artichokes, eggplant, peppers and fresh mozzarella.
On the cold sandwich side, Chop Shop offers up nine varieties and three sizes (5, 7, and 12 inch) including a Spicy Italian with Soppressata, a dry salami, hot Coppa, a cured pork collar meat. A "go-to- Italian" sandwich contains mortadella, hot capicola, salami and provolone cheese.
Three salads (chopped, beet, Greek) range between 6 and $9, while sides include potato, pasta and olive salads, priced between $5 and $6 per pound.
Chop Shop Butcher/Deli/Restaurant/Catering and 1st Ward venue, 2033 W. North Ave. Deli hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; restaurant opens at 5 p.m. daily. Ph: 773-537-4440.