Highland Park’s Moderno To Close, Reconcept as American Farm To Table

Phil Rubino and John Des Rosiers at Moderno.
Phil Rubino and John Des Rosiers at Moderno. Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

John Des Rosiers has brought innovative upscale dining successfully to the north shore with Lake Bluff’s Inovasi, but his eight-month effort to bring contemporary, handcrafted Italian food at Moderno (under chef Phil Rubino) will end with Saturday night’s service. Moderno’s quality deserved mention in the same ranks of major Italian openings in the city like Balena or Piccolo Sogno Due, a claim bolstered by the fact that Des Rosiers and Rubino were invited to cook at James Beard House in October. But the reality in Highland Park was that Moderno took over the space of a former Rosebud restaurant, and seems to have had trouble taking over the headspace of that style of redsauce Italian-American for local diners.

Anecdotes abound at internet discussion sites about older and more hidebound north shore customers being baffled and even angered by unfamiliar pasta types and sauces— and expecting Moderno’s level of farm-fresh ingredients and artisanal pastas to come at the commodity prices and in the excessive quantity of its predecessor. (Take them for the serious scientific research that exchanges of anecdotes on the internet plainly are.) That said, Des Rosiers will continue to try to raise the level of dining in the north shore to city levels— after closing for redecoration, the space will reopen on January 8 as Royce, an American farm to table restaurant. [LTHForum]

Previously: First Look Inside Moderno, John des Rosiers’ Highland Park Italian Trendsetter