Serious Dough

Tasting the fruits of Nellcôte's in-house mill

"At the rate we're going, we'll be buying 26 tons of local grain per year," says Jared Van Camp of the new West Loop restaurant Nellcôte.

There, he turns grain and hominy into pizza, pasta, bread and polenta with the help of both a stone mill and his collaborator, former Fritz Pastry owner Nathaniel Meads.

Hard winter wheat from Breslin Farms is milled to double-zero consistency, the optimal texture for pizza and pasta dough. Indeed, Nellcôte's egg-based taglioni ($10) is spectacularly silky. The delicate pasta is cut into thin strips just before serving, boiled for 20 seconds, and tangled with crème fraîche, Prosecco and oysters.

Spaghetti (pictured) is of a different character, thick, chewy and appropriately rustic for its caramelized garlic, Calabrian chiles, tomatoes and mojama (salt-cured tuna) sauce. The star of the pasta, though, is jet-black: strozzapreti ($11) with lobster, tossed in an unexpected pesto of Fresno chiles, pine nuts and onions.

For a full sampling of Van Camp's flour prowess, start with a plate of house-made breads and butter ($3), and follow your pasta with a pizza ($10 to $12). It's Neapolitan-style, with a floppy crust and blistered edges, and it does its Midwest wheat proud.

Nellcôte, 833 W. Randolph St.; 312-432-0500 or nellcoterestaurant.com