We swear we made this joke once on Twitter— the pairing of the chef who kept jumping ship with the restaurant that kept booting chefs. But now it’s actually happened: Brandon Baltzley, eternally one of Chicago’s most promising chefs, but also a troubled one who’s never seemed to stay put long enough to realize that promise, is taking over Pensiero Ristorante, the long-running Evanston Italian restaurant (under the name Va Pensiero) which had grown tired and tried to revamp itself with a quick succession of chefs including consultant Alan Lake, New York import Christian Fantoni (who left for Luigi’s House in Aurora amid nasty back and forth with owner Michael Pure), L.2O and Bistro Bordeaux vet Frank Mnuk (who was gone within a month and is now at Cité), and Michael vet Joe Wojciechowski (no word on what’s next for him).
Baltzley’s name first turned up in relation to Pensiero a couple of weeks ago when he announced a pop-up dinner there by his Crux Collective venture. Skeptical as one may be about this as a permanent relationship, they’ve made an awfully nice promotional video which certainly makes it look like they’re going to make tasty food there for the long haul. We’re going to be hopeful for both of them— that Baltzley fulfills his promise, and that Evanston’s lineup of Italian restaurants, which is more plentiful than impressive, gets a genuine star. Watch their video below. [Eater]