Creative, ambitious, playful: These are the first words that come to mind when describing the food at Senza.
Then comes another, rarely strung after a list of this sort: gluten-free.
It’s an unusual characteristic, and a timely one given dietary trends and the prevalence of celiac disease. But the main reason to visit the new Lakeview restaurant is chef Noah Sandoval, a veteran of Takashi, Green Zebra and Schwa.
Sandoval clearly channels Schwa--even Blackbird, we’d say--in his artfully composed dishes. Using a gluten-free flour blend formulated by Senza’s owner, he makes gnocchi ($12) that invoke an everything bagel. The garlicky nubs are tossed with sesame seeds, poppy seeds and dehydrated garlic, and joined in the bowl by ricotta, arugula, a sous-vide duck egg, and roasted-smoked-fried shiitakes that mimic bacon.
Ginger- and lemongrass-scented butternut squash soup ($9) is poured tableside over a mosaic of complementary flavors: spiced pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, pumpkin, butter-poached lobster and celery foam.
Silky ribbons of pasta ($24) tangle with artichokes, pickled cherry tomatoes, chanterelles and Cerignola olives. There’s more to come: “We just got an anti-griddle the other day,” says Sandoval. “We’re ready to have some fun.”
Senza, 2873 N. Broadway; 773-770-3527 or senzachicago.com