Testaccio has opened in the former Quiote space in Logan Square. (Aldo Zaninotto / HANDOUT)
By PHIL VETTEL, LOUISA CHU, ADAM LUKACH and JOSH NOEL
Testaccio, which takes its name and culinary inspiration from a neighborhood in Rome, opened two weeks ago in Logan Square, in the space formerly home to Quiote.
Aldo Zaninotto, who also owns Osteria Langhe (also in Logan Square), intentionally kept the opening low key, he said.
"It's such a difficult time for everybody," he said. "It's hard to brag about opening a new restaurant. It's such a strange time; you scratch your head and think 'what should we do?' and 'how should we do it?'"
Though he signed a lease for the space in January, Zaninotto said he considered abandoning the project.
“I could have walked away,” he said. “I’d only lose the money I’d put down. But I feel like, our country is resilient; you keep your head down, go forward and hopefully, at some point, things change. And the space is close to (Osteria) Langhe, and people in the neighborhood.”
The space itself was encouraging, encompassing more than 3,000 square feet and a large outdoor patio. Even with capacity limits and social distancing requirements, Zaninotto said he can seat 50 outdoors, 45 indoors and another 16 in a rear courtyard.
The menu is focused on Roman cuisine — “There’s more to Roman cuisine than caccio e pepe,” Zaninotto says — and makes full use of the space’s wood-burning oven, including such dishes as whole-roasted branzino and porchetta, which Zaninotto called “the oldest dish in Italy.”
Jacob Solomon, formerly of Graham Elliot, Dusek's Board & Beer, NoMi and Ema, is the executive chef. Ariana Zaninotto, Aldo's daughter, is general manager.
2456 N. California Ave., 773-661-6028; testacciochicago.com