RIVER NORTH — Shoppers already can grab a glass of wine or a mozzarella sample while shopping at mega-grocer Eataly, but as of Wednesday, they also can take a break from perusing high-end olive oils to get dinner at the adjoining fine dining restaurant Baffo.
The 65-seat Italian restaurant will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday for its first dinner service. Eli Anderson, lifted from Eataly partner Mario Batali's Carnevino in Hong Kong, will be Baffo's executive chef.
The restaurant's hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Starting next week, the bar opens at 4 p.m. for drinks. Those hours may change down the line, a spokeswoman said.
To create a sense of separation from the hustle and bustle of the typically packed store, the first-floor eatery will be accessible by a separate entrance at 44 E. Grand Ave., or from a staircase on the second floor that descends through the dry pasta and sauces section.
It's the only restaurant planned for Eataly Chicago that will accept reservations, spokeswoman Christina Villa said. Eataly New York has seven full-service restaurants in its 50,000-square-foot space, which is 13,000 square feet smaller than the River North outpost.
Baffo is Italian for "mustache," and nods both to the pronounced facial hair of Eataly's founder, Oscar Farinetti, and the similarly named Babbo in New York, Eataly partners Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich's first restaurant.
The restaurant will serve seasonal antipasti and house-made pastas, prepared almost entirely with ingredients for sale in Eataly's grocery store, Villa said.