Formerly: It's impossible to get Aldino's head chef and owner Dean Zanella out of the kitchen -- but then, it's always been that way. As early as 14 years old he was growing vegetables and preparing pasta and pizza dough in a neighborhood restaurant. It's in his blood, too: the young Zanella would mediate in arguments between his father and grandfather over who grew the best tomato, and he'd watch as his uncles blessed the rabbits they raised before his mother prepared them for dinner.
Fresh off a varied Chicago career ranging from several head chef appointments at restaurants like Grappa and 312 Chicago, as well as teaching high school students about cooking through Gallery 37, Zanella is now taking on his own place with Aldino's in Little Italy.
Not one to abandon his childhood lessons, Zanella wants to go local and sustainable. He estimates that, over the summer, more than 80 percent of his menu will be from farms within 100 miles. He also wants to keep what he has to offer fresh. With a focus on pork, he and his crew at Aldino's plan to roast one pig a week. Any pork-based items on the menu will come from that week's roasting, like the lemon- and milk-braised pork shoulder with polenta verde ($18).
Aldino's isn't lightweight when it comes to the wallet, but between using local, sustainable ingredients and fresh food, the carbon imprint should be as light as it gets.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman