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Meet the Nominee: Spiaggia in Chicago, 2014 James Beard Award Outstanding Restaurant Finalist

Get to know Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, a 2014 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant nominee.


The evolution of Spiaggia began in January of 2014 as construction started in the dining room that, when completed, will afford guests the opportunity to experience Spiaggia more than before.

Spiaggia980 North Michigan Avenue, 2nd FloorChicago, IL312.280.2750www.spiaggiarestaurant.comHere’s what guests can expect when Spiaggia re-opens in late spring 2014:

  • Dinner, which will continue to offer Chef Mantuano’s and recently appointed Executive Chef Chris Marchino’s world-class Italian cuisine, paired with an award-winning wine list, set in a new contemporary atmosphere, that highlights the restaurant’s signature views of Oak Street Beach.
  • Wine, cocktails and bites at the Spiaggia Bar, which will have a new place in the center of the restaurant where each seat overlooks the dining room and out the windows.
  • A stunning new Spiaggia Lounge with approximately 40 seats that will have a dedicated menu of 10 to 15 items with dramatic and innovative presentations of food and cocktails, a larger selection of wines by the glass (nearly 30) and an Italian aperitivo hour showcasing a new handcrafted cocktail program that utilize fresh juices, house-made brandies and inventive preparations.
  • A renewed emphasis on rare, delicious Italian wines which will now be on view in the Wine Room that all guests will walk through upon arrival to the restaurant and managed by Sommelier Rachael Lowe and her Cellar Masters.

Acclaimed designer Mark Knauer of Chicago-based Knauer, Inc., has been tapped to lead the design and construction process. Tony knew Mark was the perfect fit for the project as Mark was on the team that original designed Spiaggia when it opened in 1984. During the ReImagination, Cafe Spiaggia remains open for lunch and dinner daily and Spiaggia Private Events, which is one floor above Spiaggia, continues to host intimate corporate and social functions and larger cocktail receptions, weddings and celebrations.

Tony Mantuano, Chef/Partner, Spiaggia, Bar Toma, Lorenzo, River Roast and Terzo Piano

  • Best Chef Midwest, James Beard Foundation, 2005
  • Author, Offer: 0811845117 The Spiaggia Cookbook: Eleganza Italiana in Cucina
  • Author, Offer: 030735279X Wine Bar Food: Mediterranean Flavors to Crave with Wines to Match
  • Contestant on Season 2 of Top Chef Masters
  • One-Michelin Star Chef

Most often recognized as one of the Champions on season two of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Chef Tony Mantuano is also internationally regarded as an influential culinary force. He is the chef/partner at Spiaggia, one of the country’s leading restaurants and Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant, and has been awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Midwest.

Mantuano’s love for creating exciting restaurant concepts has given way to other ventures. In addition to Spiaggia, his latest is chef/partner of Lorenzo, a casual elegant Italian restaurant in Miami adjacent to the Redbury South Beach Hotel that opened in November 2013. He is also Chef/Partner at Bar Toma, a long-time dream to create an Italian neighborhood pizzeria and bar; chef/partner at Terzo Piano, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that utilizes fresh, local, organic ingredients to create seasonal menus at The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; and he is the co-owner of his family’s Mangia Trattoria, a classic Italian restaurant in his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Up next for Mantuano includes River Roast his first non-Italian restaurant in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Set to open early summer 2014, the restaurant will be a lively social house and gathering place featuring handcrafted, yet rustic, food with many plates designed for sharing. The menu features contemporary American tavern fare and will focus on dramatic presentations of whole roasted chicken, which is cold smoked and then roasted to perfection in a specially-designed oven; whole roasted de-boned fish prepared in a tandoor oven and slow-cooked roast beef; all carved tableside and served with signature French fries. 2014 also marks Spiaggia’s 30th anniversary and to celebrate the occasion the dining room is undergoing a complete redesign and to be unveiled in late spring.

Mantuano’s first cookbook Offer: 0811845117 The Spiaggia Cookbook: Eleganza Italiana in Cucina was lauded by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004. In 2008 Mantuano co-authored Offer: 030735279X Wine Bar Food: Mediterranean Flavors to Crave with Wines to Match with wine expert and wife Cathy Mantuano, which has been the inspiration for WINE BAR FOOD outposts at the 2008-2013 US Open Tennis Championships in New York.

In addition to his 2005 honor, Mantuano’s Spiaggia has also received James Beard Award nominations for Outstanding Restaurant in America in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2013, and for Outstanding Service in 2008, 2009, 2012. In September 2012 he was named part of the American Chef Corps and a 2012 State Chef by the U.S. Department of State and its new Culinary Diplomatic Partnership program. However, his favorite award was presented in April 2009, when he and Cathy Mantuano were honored with the keys to San Martino in the Italian region of Molise for serving authentic Italian cuisine in America and in particular to President Barak Obama, a long-time Spiaggia guest who celebrated his presidential election victory at Spiaggia in 2008.

Chris Marchino, Executive Chef, Spiaggia/Cafe Spiaggia

Originally from Philadelphia, Chris Marchino has called Chicago home since 2006. In addition to a B.A. in sociology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, Marchino has an associate's degree in culinary arts from The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu. He has also lived and travelled extensively in West and Southern Africa while working for CARE International on famine relief and social service projects. After helping open D'Allesandro's in Charleston, South Carolina, Marchino made the career decision to become a chef. Since joining Spiaggia in 2008, he has worked his way up the ranks from line cook to his current position as executive chef, which he was named in January 2014. In the spring of 2012 while serving as executive sous chef he was named a Zagat Chicago 30 Under 30 recipient.

Despite cooking Italian for almost 10 years, Marchino made his very first trip to Italy in May 2012 where he learned all he could from chefs, producers and vintners in Tuscany. Marchino's passion for Italian cuisine stems from his love of fresh and local ingredients, and his personal broad-spectrum enjoyment of foods, ranging from street food to fine dining. He returned to Italy in January 2014 for a three week trip around the country where he cooked in various kitchens in Rome, Florence, Venice and more. He plans to use what he learned towards the reImagined Spiaggia that will debut in late spring 2014.

Content provided courtesy of DJS Hospitality Consulting

Published May 4th, 2014