LAKEVIEW — A popular Edison Park Italian restaurant well reviewed by Barack Obama himself is finally opening its Lakeview location this week.
Zia's Lago Vista — Italian for "lake view" — will open for business Thursday in the former location of Centro, 3819 N. Ashland Ave., after months of construction and waiting for licenses, said Ryan Naegele, managing partner of the restaurant.
It's Naegele and co-owners Joe and Mary Kay Calabrese's second location of Zia's, a nearly 20-year-old restaurant at 6699 N. Northwest Hwy. once reviewed by then-state Sen. Obama on "Check Please!"
The Zia's Lago Vista menu will be the same as the Zia's Trattoria in Edison Park, bringing over favorites like rigatoni Bolognese and the agnello fucco lento, a braised lamb shank with pancetta, Naegele said.
The restaurateurs have been planning to open in Lakeview since last year, but construction and the wait for a liquor license delayed the opening, Naegele said.
Zia's Lago Vista is focused on wine, and its dining room is intended to "echo a Napa Valley Vineyard," Naegele said. The restaurant had to take time to get its own liquor license.
"We wanted to do it the right way," he said. "We think it turned out exactly how we wanted it to."
The Edison Park location has been well-reviewed over the years. Obama said in his 2001 "Check Please!" review that the food was as good as any he'd had in the city, including ones that "charged three time as much," when he went with his wife, Michelle, and then 3-year-old and 2-month-old daughters Malia and Sasha.
"I would actually drive back from Hyde Park to have a meal," he said in the show.
Entrees cost $12-$31. The restaurant will have a $5 glass of wine special and $20 bottle special each day and offers free valet parking.
Unlike the Edison Park restaurant, Lago Vista will offer 50 outdoor seats once weather warms up, for a total seating area for 290 people, Naegele said.
And for those looking to eat like a future president, the first lady and Obama ate an "outstanding" beef tenderloin appetizer. Malia, meanwhile, ate plain pasta with a plain red sauce for dinner and a lemon ice for dessert.