Thursday, April 5, 2012

Small plates, big difference: this week in Food & Drink

Posted By on 04.05.12 at 03:14 PM

RPM Italian
Mike Sula tells a tale of two restaurants, similar of cuisine—Italian—but not much else. The other half of Andersonville farm-to-table concept Acre has been taken over by Bar Ombra, where Sula enjoyed Venetian-style bar snacks similar in spirit to Spanish tapas. Winners: tramezzini, soft white tea sandwiches with whipped mortadella; pesce in saor, sweet-and-sour wine-and-vinegar-marinated fried sardines; and a candle-warmed dish of bagna cauda, an emulsified anchovy and olive oil dipping sauce surrounded by fennel, radicchio, and endive.

It was a different story at RPM Italian, from the Melman siblings and Bill and Giuliana Rancic, housed in the former Ben Pao space in River North. Sula found some good stuff on the menu—particularly black-garlic-enhanced tuna carpaccio, squid ink spaghetti with chili and King Crab meat, and a cocktail list designed by Paul McGee—but couldn’t truck with the electronica and pro sports stars.

In Key Ingredient, the Drawing Room’s Charles Joly challenged Giuseppe Tentori (Boka, GT Fish & Oyster) with bee pollen, an allegedly nutritious byproduct of bees’ digestive processes. After a few unsuccessful attempts at making a savory dish, Tentori worked it into a sweet gnocchi that he dressed with chocolate sauce, candied pistachios, raspberries, and mint. Next up is Spiaggia’s Sarah Grueneberg, working with propolis, a resinous substance that bees use to seal open spaces in their hives.

Bar listings on the B Side are for craft beer bars; our writers cover the Bad Apple, Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar, the Hopleaf, and a slew of others.

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