Right on the heels of Spiaggia's glamorous new makeover, tour de force Tony Mantuano set his sights on a new project that diverges from his small roster of Italian restaurants.
Hello, River Roast.
Mantuano's American tavern sits east of the LaSalle Bridge on the North bank of the river; it's a multilevel restaurant that spills out onto one of the most picturesque waterside patios in the city.
Inside, the dining room is airy and modern, with industrial-chic accents like orb-shaped lanterns, exposed ducts and brick that provide a touch of elegant context for the decidedly laid-back dining experience. Much as we love the interior, though, outside on the patio is the place to be.
Start with fresh oysters (M.P.) served riverside, supremely crusty country bread laden with a creamy Gruyère spread and a stiff cocktail such as the aromatic Kenosha ($11) with cherry blossom, Laird's Applejack brandy, sugar, Angostura bitters. Sip from the complimentary flask slowly while you absorb the views and consider which of the more than 20 small, shareable plates you want to try next.
Beef lovers will enjoy the Chicago-style sashimi ($12), executive chef John Hogan's playful take on a Chicago hotdog: seared Wagyu with dried tomato, roasted onion and pepper, pickles and a poppyseed crisp.
The eating marathon continues with the pièce de résistance: Hogan's signature roasts. The crispy or fire-roasted fish ($42) presented on a metal spear and the well-seasoned, crisp-skinned, wood-smoked whole chicken ($39) are both sliced tableside and come with potatoes. Each is more than enough for two people, so we recommend teaming up with a friend and sharing.
If you've managed to save a tiny piece of real estate for dessert, try the Shot and a Beer ($7), a crunchy dark beer biscotti with boozy whiskey Crème Anglaise. If said real estate is a little more sizeable, go big with the Fat Elvis ($11), chocolate peanut butter pie with a peanut, graham cracker and pretzel crust and dried banana and pretzel topping.