"It's far exceeded my expectations," says chef Ryan Poli, as he looks around at the epic space that houses his two new River North restaurants, Tavernita and Barcito. Though they've been in soft opening mode for half of January, both are now officially open and ready to go.
According to Poli, "Tavernita is Spanish inspired with Latin influences." That means that most of the dishes have a connection to Old World classics, but with a slight twist—whether it's additional acidity or spice. Poli also brings in classic French techniques when necessary.
The design is distinct, but the seating at Tavernita is reminiscent of Mercadito, which makes a lot of sense considering the whole place is owned by Mercadito Hospitality. The company prizes social interaction. All the seats are low to the ground, so that just about everyone has a view of the whole restaurant.
Though they are sort of connected, Barcito is far more than just Tavernita's bar. In fact, Poli almost appears more excited about opening this San Sebastián-style bar, which he claims is "as traditionally Spanish as we can get." It features a condensed menu of snacks, all of which are meant to be eaten while standing up. "It's all very simple with most of the pintxos having just two components," he adds.
Poli talked with us briefly about a few of the dishes on the menu, which you can check out by clicking on the slideshow.
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