Q&A: Chef Ryan Poli, Tavernita, Chicago


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We’re going to have Iberico ham on the counter, a red hand-cranked meat slicer for charcuterie boards, cheese plates, marinated olives, white anchovies. Very simple, very rustic. Everything will be $2, $3 and $5, except for the Iberico, which will be about $30 an ounce.

There will be housemade vermouth, a cider program, keg cocktails and keg wines at both restaurants.

And Tavernita?

There will be a crudo bar at the back of the restaurant where we’re going to do a couple of composed oysters with our own garnish paired with the flavor of the oyster, a couple of half-shell oysters, a lot of crudo, salpicon, ceviches.

And then there will be a “platos” menu, which ranges from a lot of vegetables, a house sausage, confit suckling pig, half roasted chicken, meatballs, grilled octopus salad.

In the back we’ll have a private lounge that’s going to handle overflow for the diners during the restaurant hours, and it’s going to turn into a little party at night — a little late-night lounge with late-night bites, a cocktail program. I can’t wait until it opens.

Why did you decide on a Spanish-Latin tapas concept?

A year and a half ago, French bistros were opening all over the city. Then it was oyster bars and American lobster roll restaurants, and now it’s Italian trattorias with Neapolitan pizza. No one’s done Spanish in a long time. I think four years ago Mercat a la Planxa, a José Garces restaurant, opened [in March 2008]. But that’s a more formal restaurant, very different from what we’re doing.