5 reasons to look forward to Balena, Chris Pandel's forthcoming Italian joint
Chris Pandel, soon to be Lincoln Park's favorite pizza-delivery guy.
Over the weekend it was Tweeted and YouTube'd that the guys behind —Chris Pandel, John Ross and Phillip Walters—have teamed up with the guys behind Girl & the Goat and to open Balena. Here are a few reasons why the restaurant, slated to open in the space this fall, is good for Chicago eaters:
- Pizzas by Chris Pandel. Though Pandel will be up to some of his old tricks at Balena (butchering whole animals, sourcing local ingredients), the menu here will lean much more Italian than the Bristol. A big part of that menu: Pizza. Pandel has been working on the crust for a while now, and interestingly enough Balena will be cooking the pizzas in a deck oven, and not Balena's brand-new wood-burning spit-cooking Universo oven. (The Universo will be used more for cooking meats and bruschetta.) "We just believes that it tastes better" to make the pizzas in the deck oven, Ross says. The pizzas also travel better when made in the deck oven, which is key, since Balena will eventually be delivering pizzas to the neighborhood.
- More desserts from Amanda Rockman. Regular readers of TOC know that we're more than a little smitten with Amanda Rockman, the chef behind the Bristol's incomparableand . In heading up the pastry program at Balena, Rockman will focus on Italian desserts such as gelatos, Italian ices, affagatos and plated desserts like strawberry cannolis.
- No more zebra print. Well, no more zebra print in the Landmark space, anyway. The clubby environs will be stripped away to make room for a warmer, brighter room, including many more windows and a greenhouselike addition that will bring the front of the restaurant closer to the sidewalk.
- Drinks, Italian-style. Rockman has dreams to implement an Italian soda progam at Balena. On the alcoholic side, bartender Debbi Peek will traffic in amari (bitter Italian liquers) for her list of aperitifs and digestifs.
- The name Balena translates to "fat guy." Technically, it translates to "whale," but you get the gist.