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'Top Chef' favorite Fabio Viviani to open Chicago restaurant

  • Fabio Viviani in his chef coat for "Top Chef All Stars"
Fabio Viviani in his chef coat for "Top Chef All Stars" (Courtesy of Bravo )
June 07, 2012|By Lisa Arnett, RedEye

The owners of local hangouts Public House and Bull & Bear are teaming up with"Top Chef"fan favorite Fabio Viviani to open a new restaurant in River North slated for a late 2012 or early 2013 debut.

Florence-born Viviani was known for his Italian cooking on the fifth season of "Top Chef," and he also returned to the show as part of the cast of "Top Chef All Stars." Luke Stoioff, who owns Public House and Bull & Bear with business partner David Rekhson, calls the concept "Italian-ish."

Though they're not disclosing details yet, Stoioff said that he and Rekhson met Viviani at Public House last winter during a trip to Chicago, and through his repeat visits, they became friends. "He's kind of like an Italian version of David and I, so we get along really well," Stoioff said.

Stoioff said he and Rekhson have had an Italian concept in mind for more than a year and ended up talking to Viviani about it. "I said, We're working on an Italian concept, could we pick your brain? And then from picking the brain we went to chatting every week to twice a week to [a point] where I'm talking to him every day, and I was like, why don't we team up on this?"

David Blonsky, corporate chef for Bull & Bear and Public House, also will be involved. "Fabio's writing the menu, Blonsky's assisting and securing ingredients and local vendors and David and I are designing the restaurant, the concept and doing all the rest of the stuff, basically," Stoioff said. "It's a really good team; it's kind of like Marvel Avengers. We're all joining forces to create … our take on what we wanted to do."

More details will be released later this year. "We're going to Italy in August to do some research and get some inspiration for the name and everything," Stoioff said.

lmarnett@tribune.com | @redeyeats

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