Aldino's in Little Italy: R.I.P.
In what has to be a record for the shortest length ever open for a semi-major restaurant in the city, Aldino's in Little Italy will close its doors for good after dinner service tonight, just four months after it opened its doors down the street from the UIC Pavilion.
"Right concept in the wrong neighborhood," said chef and co-owner Dean Zanella, a veteran of 312 Chicago and partner in the project with Scott Harris (Mia Francesca). "People in this area want eggplant parm and we were trying to do seasonal Italian food. Weekends weren't nearly as busy as we should have been."
The restaurant was a passion project for Zanella, who was serving some creative antipasti like grilled octopus with oranges, pheasant sausage and even the occasional nod to the area with arancini and porky meatballs. There was a tidy little market next door selling dry goods, as well as homemade items from the restaurant's kitchen, such as pickled onions, apple mostarda and assorted cheeses. The space used to be occupied by Rico's, a reliable red sauce joint, which Zanella says the neighbors probably missed, and weren't accustomed to the seasonally-driven menu.
Zanella says no hard feelings between him and Harris, who will most likely do some cosmetic work to the space and then re-open as something completely different later this summer. As for Zanella, he's taking some time off to look for his next opportunity.