6/25/2013 10:26:00 AM

Paul Kahan Ventures Into Italy With Nico

Drumroll, please. And the next restaurant from Chicago’s one-and-only Paul Kahan will be (insert dramatic pause) Italian seafood in the Gold Coast. Kahan along with his business partner, Donnie Madia, runs Off Hospitality, which includes The Publican, Publican Quality Meats, avec, Blackbird, Big Star and The Violet Hour. The duo had this latest project in the works for a while, but yesterday, announced the restaurant, Nico, in the Chicago Tribune.

The concept will return Kahan to his roots of upscale cuisine, serving rustic yet elegant Italian with a focus on fresh fish and seafood. To prepare, Kahan and his team traveled to the Puglia region of Italy. This strip of land along the “boot heel” is known for its rocky coast and sprawling farmland. Considered one of the best culinary destinations in Italy, Puglia boasts olive groves and a two-month-long summer food and wine festival.

With Kahan in Italy was the chef who will run Nico's kitchen, Erling Wu-Bower. Wu-Bower has worked at Publican and Publican Quality Meats, but most recently was at avec, where he earned attention for revitalizing the menu. On June 1, Wu-Bower was replaced by chef Perry Hendrix, formally of Maison and Custom House. Hendrix spent the month of May training under Wu-Bower, mastering the restaurants Southern Mediterranean cuisine.

Nico will be located at 1015 N. Rush Street at the new Thompson Chicago hotel. In addition to serving 125 in the two-story restaurant, it will also provide room service to the hotel and service the banquet hall (so you can have a Paul Kahan-catered wedding without calling in the Big Star truck.) Nico is scheduled to open in December.

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