LAKEVIEW — Shuttered Italian restaurant Sopranos on Sheffield Avenue may soon be replaced by an upscale Mexican restaurant.
John Durkin is in the process of leasing 2901 N. Sheffield Ave. with plans to open Barcocina, which he described as a neighborhood-friendly but upscale Mexican restaurant with the capacity for private parties.
The menu will focus on small dishes that can be shared family-style, including nearly a dozen types of dips, salsas and guacamoles, chef Marc Dixon told a meeting of Central Lakeview Neighbors this week.
"It's not going to be your Taco Bell fast food," Dixon said. "It's going to be modern food using Mexican styles."
A preliminary menu includes braised kale and boiled egg empanadas, watercress salad with pistachio coconut puree and cumin confit lamb tacos. Entrees include adobo pork tenderloin with black garlic guajillo puree, seared scallops with black rice and a shareable charred ribeye.
The dips range from a guacamole with roasted garlic and balsamic sauce to a salsa with bacon and cocoa powder.
Durkin wants to keep the restaurant open until midnight Mondays through Thursdays and may stay open later on weekends, depending on business. He's asking for both a liquor license and an entertainment license.
He doesn't plan on hiring DJs or offering live music on a regular basis but wants private parties to have the option to bring in magicians or bands, he said.
Despite the late hours, Barcocina won't have the bar atmosphere of other Sheffield establishments, Durkin said.
"It's a food focus," he said.
Sopranos, an Italian restaurant known for its murder-mystery nights, shuttered last year.
The building will need a $1 million renovation before Barcocina opens, Durkin said. He could not give an estimated opening date, as he has just started the city approval process, he said.
Central Lakeview Neighbors voted to give the restaurant conditional approval, as long as the owners work with the alderman and the neighborhood group to create a plan of operations tied to the license.