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Osteria di Tramonto - Wheeling, IL


jesteinf
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Metromix (of all places) is reporting that Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand are on the verge of announcing a new restaurant, possibly a steakhouse. Anyone know any details?

Edited to ask: With the number of steakhouses already open, and with the addition of David Burke's new place later this year, does this seem like a wise move? I suppose it's better than another "small plates" restaurant.

Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Anyone know any details?

I can't believe neither of them mentioned it when I saw them this past Sunday :biggrin:

Here's a link to the blurb mentioned above by Josh:

New on the scene by Chris LaMorte.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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This week's installment of Dish provides some additional details:

“What can I say?” Tramonto asked rhetorically after being questioned about the industry buzz. “I’m not [leaving].” However, the chef did confirm that much of his attention is focused on his current multi-level project, Tramonto Steaks and Seafood and Osteria di Tramonto, slated to open in the North Shore Westin in Wheeling at the end of the year. Although the restaurants will not be part of the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises organization, Tramonto is partnered with LEYE titan Rich Melman, as well as Gand.

Thanks to eGS member ulterior epicure for the heads up on this.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 7 months later...
I don't know if anyone else has come across this yet, but here is the link that sheds light on all of the Tramonto/Gand plans.

http://www.cenitare.com/

Yes, a couple of the restaurants at the Westin are already open. Some friends ate at Osteria di Tramonto last week. I hope one of them will check in here with some details :wink:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I've been to Osteria di Tramonto 5 times already. It has quickly become my favorite close-to-home restaurant. Everything I've tried has been good or even exceptional...I've had the wild mushroom risotto twice and it has been perfect. Boneless beef shortribs atop parsnip puree was pure melt-in-your mouth comfort food. I've also enjoyed their salumi, some of which is house-cured (apparently more and more of it will be).

The all-Italian wine program, headed by Belinda Chang (ex-Trotter's, ex-Fifth Floor) is stunning...absolutely brilliant, with great things at EVERY price point (as in $4/glass, $22/bottle stuff that is actually good...all the way up to legendary and rare bottlings with 3- and 4-digit prices). The way the wine list is organized is just terrific, with all sorts of category breakdowns (not just by color, region and price, but some cool things like women winemakers, eco-friendly wineries, etc.).

OK, to prove I'm not a shill for them, there are kinks to work out. And a place like this, with such a high profile needs to iron things out right away. The service is definitely a work in progress (wrong food being delivered, dirty utensils removed but not replaced for next course, etc.). And someone needs to tell the busboys how to pour water without giving patrons a bath. We were also asked 4 different times if we were done with one of our dishes...they kept trying to whisk it away, despite having told the first person to leave it on the table. The waiters themselves have a lot to learn about the dishes, several seemed rather clueless about ingredients and preparation. I'm sure the service issues will be worked out in short order. It's certainly not enough to keep me from returning. In fact, I want to work my way through the entire menu.

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I've been to Osteria di Tramonto 5 times already . . .

Not the exact friend I was thinking of but even better, considering you've already been there 5 times! :biggrin:

We're going next week and I'm definitely loooking forward to it.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had an exceptional meal at Osteria di Tramonto last week. I'll admit that going in, I was a bit skeptical about the "hotel" aspect of the venture but my concerns turned out to be way off base. Once inside, Osteria di Tramonto is nothing like a typical hotel restaurant. The space is beautiful and grand and built on a scale that evokes the feeling of a downtown restaurant more than anything else. The arched brick ceiling, soft zoned lighting and copper and stainless open kitchen create a feeling that is purely 'destination.'

We started off with an assortment of amuse bouche which were mostly seafood oriented. The mussels and shrimp were fantastic and the house-cured sardines were stand-out. I also thoroughly enjoyed the thinly-sliced heart of prosciutto which was served with tender, aromatic wedges of poached quince.

Appetizers were equally enjoyable and my only problem was deciding which ones to try because so many of them looked great. We loved the arancini which were crispy, flavorful and immensely satisfying. The marinated beet salad was very tasty too. Calamari Fritti can often be ordinary but the use of semolina flour in OdT's version distinguished it as one of the best I've tasted. It was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and totally delicious. Needless to say, the seafood at OdT is immaculate and that resulted in a sublime version of Sea Bass Carpaccio to which our trusty, wonderful server Frederic tipped us off. We also tasted a couple other apps, which were sent out by the kitchen: warm caramelized onions and melted cheese that was absolutely phenomenal and a potato and octopus salad that was not only delicious but a fantastic study in textures. Great stuff all around.

Entrees were also excellent. My wife and I split and swapped the braised short rib and the pork shank. Both were rich and satisfied completely that 'braised meat mood' that we both were in. The short rib was served atop a parsnip puree and the pork shank was accompanied by cici beans that were tender but not mushy at all. Along with the entrees, we split a side of rigatoni with caramelized cauliflower. The pasta was fantastic. I loved the golden-brown cauliflower and the robust, garlicky sauce was perfection. The wine, a 2000 Sassi Neri was a wonderful pairing for the rich, tender meats and the pasta.

Desserts, which were 'on the house,' were fantastic across the board and nearly too numerous to mention. In addition to the flawless renditions of Tiramisu, Sformatto, Citrus Panna Cotta (thanks again to Frederic for the tip) and Apple Croustata which we ordered, we were also served an exceptionally creamy and tasty version of Pistachio Gelato, a completely refreshing Mandarin Granita and a Hot Pudino which was just over the top. Pours of Moscato d'Asti and Lambrusco were perfect accents for the sweets course.

I am extremely excited about Osteria di Tramonto because their food is so exceptionally good and it is so close to home. It made me quite happy to see several familiar faces on the FOH side too, including the aforementioned Frederic whose enthusiasm and knowledge are simply unequalled. It also pleased me to see that management, headed up by General Manager Julie DeNotto, is not rushing to book the room to 100% capacity yet. Instead, they're taking their time ramping up, making sure they can handle the volume of business as they increase it incrementally. I loved the vibe and the atmosphere at Osteria di Tramonto, the food was absolutely fantastic and the service was impeccable. I'm with Pugman as far as my enthusiasm goes. Osteria di Tramonto is clearly going to be distinctive and a winner.

=R=

Osteria di Tramonto

Westin Chicago North Shore

601 N. Milwaukee Avenue

Wheeling, IL 60090

847 777-6570

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 months later...

I've been back to OdT for dinner about 3 more times and I've really been enjoying it. Those mussels are absolutely addictive and the calamari fritti remains a great rendition, even though the portion seems to have shrunk a bit. There's so much on the menu and most of what I've tried has been excellent. Veal Saltimbuco (sp?) was oustanding and even my son's Chicken Parmigiano was high-quality in every regard (in fact, it was almost silly seeing this normally blase' dish prepared in such a careful and serious manner).

I took a look at their breakfast menu and definitely want to try it out soon. Salami and Eggs with caramelized onions is calling out to me -- as are several other offerings. Has anyone been to OdT for breakfast? if so, I'd love to hear how it was.

Also, does anyone know which of the OdT salumi is made in-house and which is sourced elsewhere? I asked my server and all he knew was that some was made on premises and some was purchased from outside sources, but he didn't know the details.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm going to answer my own (above) post on a couple of counts . . .

Breakfast, which I tried last Saturday, was pretty good. The eggs benedict were very nice, although I prefer the rendition they serve at Prairie Grass Cafe. I also enjoyed the Pancakes 'Foster,' which consisted of some perfectly fluffy pancakes topped with a Bananas Foster-type topping. The topping was tasty but a bit too rummy for my taste. The super crispy Calabrian potatoes (served with the egg dishes), which I've had at dinner on a few occasions, were just way too herbacious for my breakfast palate. Unfortunately, the salami and eggs with caramelized onions were nothing special. The few chunks of tasty of salami were not well-integrated into the slightly overcooked scrambled eggs and the caramelized onions were actually served on the side, in a ramekin, which was an unhappy surprise.

Taking a step back, I also learned that, unfortunately, none of the cured meats served at OdT are made in-house. I swear I remember reading somewhere, before it opened, that OdT planned to serve house-made salume but I must be mistaken about that.

Overall, while the food is definitely tasty at OdT, the level of risk seems to have dropped sharply in the weeks since my first visit. My above post about Chicken Parmigiana may reveal something about the (new) direction that OdT is heading. When the place first opened, that dish wasn't even offered. Now, it seems to be one of 3 Chicken entrees which are permanently on the menu. It's certainly tasty but I just cannot count Chicken Parmigiana as serious fare. The potato and octopus salad is gone as is the rigatoni with caramelized cauliflower. Even the Steak for 2 (Steak Florentine) seems to have gone bye-bye. This past weekend, a skirt steak appeared on the menu. I love skirt steak . . . but this is not the place for it.

I hate to say it but this is a pretty far cry from what I expected from the team that was fomerly Tru. In fact, even the food at Brasserie T (the team's fantastic former restaurant in Northfield), outshines the food currently on the menu at OdT. I'm not sure exactly what's going on but OdT appears to be aiming much lower than it originally was. Is it the hotel guests, the local audience or other factors which are catalyzing these changes? I wish I knew.

There are still a lot of strong points about OdT. The food, in spite of the multiple changes I describe above, remains tasty for the most part (although I'd avoid the perfunctory lasagna). Their awesome wine program is a draw in and of itself. Gale Gand's desserts are also an attraction of their own. The space is lovely and the service is fantastic.

But, I have to say that this food is food which could be had just about anywhere. The distinctive elements of the menu and some of the best preparations seem to be evaporating. I assume that these changes represent a struggle between the kitchen team's desires and the reality of who their audience is. I hope that, at least in some ways, OdT can revert back to its previous, dinstinctive form. I understand that a hotel restaurant must cater to the desires of its guests. I understand that a north-suburban restaurant must cater to the relatively conservative tastes of north-suburban residents. But the wholesale changes which are being implemented at OdT are, for fans of serious food, a bit worrisome.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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The distinctive elements of the menu and some of the best preparations seem to be evaporating.  I assume that these changes represent a struggle between the kitchen team's desires and the reality of who their audience is.  I hope that, at least in some ways, OdT can revert back to its previous, dinstinctive form.  I understand that a hotel restaurant must cater to the desires of its guests.  I understand that a north-suburban restaurant must cater to the relatively conservative tastes of north-suburban residents.  But the wholesale changes which are being implemented at OdT are, for fans of serious food, a bit worrisome.

Worrisome indeed. I think it might help to put these changes into the proper context, that of suburban hotel restaurants. Not all that many years ago, it used to be that hotel restaurants, and particularly those in the suburbs, were dreadful; they were able to rely on their "captive audience" of guests at the hotel, for dine-in meals, in-room meals, and banquets, all of which were sufficient to sustain their business. There were exceptions, places that were good enough that they had a significant customer base of local residents (e.g. Allgauer's in Northbrook, Don's Fishmarket in Skokie), but those were indeed merely exceptions.

Over recent years, people have become more knowledgeable about food, and more demanding of quality. Many hotels were wise enough to see this as a business opportunity, that they could bring in more customers (and more revenue/profits) by improving the quality of their fare. (And, incidentally, restaurants were not the only location for this phenomenon, as anyone who has traveled through many commercial airports has found.) So more and more hotels decided to upgrade their food. Some hotels did it as part of their own existing in-house restaurants, while others made arrangements with freestanding restaurants and chains to open locations with a well-known restaurant name inside their hotels (e.g. Gibson's in Rosemont, Ruth's Chris in Northbrook). Keep in mind, the entire concept here is not just better quality food, but food that is so good that it will make the restaurant a dining destination for local residents.

The point I am making is, if these hotels want to be true to this concept, they should be catering to the finer tastes of the foodies in their community, and not to those of the hotel guests. There are enough food-knowledgeable people in the suburbs (and coming from the city) to support some of the finest restaurants in the entire Chicago area in a location like Wheeling (as proven by Le Francais). There's no reason to "dumb down" to their hotel guests.

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One other point of context: Tramonto and Gand have spent much of their careers working for Lettuce Entertain You Enterpises, which is notorious for fiddling with newly opened restaurants until they attract the maximum number of customers. I have almost never been to an LEYE newcomer that remained substantially the same after a few months of opening.

LAZ

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One other point of context: Tramonto and Gand have spent much of their careers working for Lettuce Entertain You Enterpises, which is notorious for fiddling with newly opened restaurants until they attract the maximum number of customers. I have almost never been to an LEYE newcomer that remained substantially the same after a few months of opening.

I agree, though usually LEYE's changes are for the better.

I hope OdT gets its act together again. I agree with Ron's post. I feel the experience is becoming more middle-of-the-road and less special with each successive visit.

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  • 3 months later...

I was wondering if someone could elucidate the differences between osteria via stato and osteria di tramonto. My wife and I recently dined at via stato for the first time and were made instant fans. I was unable to find a menu of OdT on the web, but some of the dishes described upthread (short ribs on parsnip puree) sound identical to what I had at via stato. I wish their website was more informative. If OdT is anything like via stato, it looks like I might have to plan a visit.

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