Dish reports that Todd Stein, ranked among the top chefs of Italian food in Chicago for his work at now-closed Cibo Matto and The Florentine in the J.W. Marriott hotel, is leaving the latter post to open a second outpost of Tony Priolo’s Piccolo Sogno. To be located at 340 N. Clark (the longtime Singha Thai location), Piccolo Sogno Due will have a pizza oven, but beyond that, little is yet certain about what will differentiate the new spot from the original at Grand and Milwaukee.
The Florentine gave Stein full rein for his artisanally-crafted Italian food, and it’s probably one of the more underrated restaurants in town— but being in a large second floor space in a Loop hotel is also problematic in many ways, with business mostly confined to weeknights. The new location near the Merchandise Mart puts Stein much closer to several of the other hot restaurants of the moment— and gives him a street-level entrance— and we’d bet that he’ll at last have the name recognition and following that his food has warranted for some time. His last day will be April 28, and he’s planning to bring along sous chef Mark Newman. That leaves quite a gap in The Florentine’s kitchen, since another Cibo Matto veteran, Rusty Kook, recently left The Florentine to work under (and almost immediately replace) Jackie Shen at Chicago Cut Steakhouse.