EDGEWATER — When Marisa Paolillo left the United States 11 years ago to live in her husband's native India, she was still working in the corporate world of sales and marketing.
Now she's back, and Paolillo's a chef about to open an Indian restaurant called Mango Pickle along North Broadway in Edgewater.
"When we were looking for a neighborhood ... we were looking for a place that would be open to Indian food," said Paolillo, who lives in Andersonville. "We wanted to choose a location where we felt people would be open to new flavors, or already had some familiarity and were looking for more options."
Mango Pickle will take over the vacant storefront at 5842 N. Broadway and is aiming for a late-September opening, with husband Nakul Patel heading the restaurant's business end.
The storefront is currently undergoing renovations, but its menu will feature Paolillo's spin on both popular and lesser-known Indian dishes and flavors. It will change seasonally with produce and ingredients that are fresh at the time.
Focuses will include lamb and other meats, as well as some vegan and vegetarian options.
Paolillo said she was inspired by how different regions of the country created unique takes on similar dishes, particularly mango pickle — a condiment used in many Indian dishes that Paolillo compared to ketchup (well, maybe mustard in Chicago ...) in its popularity.
The menu will feature a "few classics with new presentations," Paolillo said, like dessert dishes that combine Western-style sweets with savory Indian spices.
"I want to look at regions where there's a strong traditions, and really well-developed palettes, but maybe hasn't gotten out of India," she said.
Paolillo said the bistro will also have a liquor license and plan to have outdoor seating next year.
Paolillo and Patel lived in Bombay for nine years. That's where Paolillo decided to eventually leave her job in sales and follow her passion for cooking.
Though she said she was heavily inspired by the many nuances of regional tastes and food traditions around the country, Paolillo's start in the kitchen came from getting a job with an American chef in an American restaurant in India.
As she now prepares to open her very own restaurant — "my baby," as Paolillo refers to it — she wants others to know that applying hard work and taking risks to achieve your dreams can be possible.
"Over the years I was able to pursue what I wanted to do, I always thought that I had to work a corporate job because I went to college and I kind of put what I wanted aside," she said. "I think that when you start working you get financially strapped and you rely on your job, and you rely on the career you started and it's hard to make that change. I was lucky to say, 'OK I'm going to try something new.'"
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