Masa Azul's New Chef Shines - Chicago

A new chef shines at Masa Azul

We knew Jonathan Zaragoza had passion when we first met him at his family's birrieria.

Now we know he has talent, too.

Zaragoza is the new chef of Logan Square's year-old Masa Azul. There, the 24-year-old has created a concise, compelling menu of dishes that we want to revisit again and again.

His Mexican Scotch egg is a must-try, with layers of panko and chorizo giving way to an impeccably runny yolk. On our visit, it accompanied grilled squab with dark Oaxacan mole ($22). It's also available as a by-request addition to Zaragoza's version of a Caesar salad ($9), and will soon be on the menu as its own dish, served with frisée and pickled-jalapeño vinaigrette.

The simple and superlative quesadilla ($7) from Birrieria Zaragoza is on the menu, as well, as an example of the heights masa and Chihuahua cheese can reach. Cotija cheese, cilantro pesto and a chipotle-tomato marinade pull a dish of shrimp and grits ($20) below the border.

For dessert, there are thin, curling churros ($5): superbly crisp outside and chewy within, with ancho-chile powder augmenting their dark-chocolate dip.

The menu is conspicuously lacking the goat associated with his family's name. It will be there soon, Zaragoza assures us, but not before he perfects his verson of tacos al pastor: pork belly with pineapple salsa.

Masa Azul, 2901 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-687-0300 or