In 1989, business partners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli founded Gibsons Restaurant Group and opened the doors to their signature restaurant in the Gold Coast. Since then, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse has become the city’s top-grossing independent restaurant, and the group has added eight more concepts, including Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Luxbar and Quartino Ristorante.
With the opening of their latest eatery, Gibsons Italia, last month, the Lombardos take a more modern approach. Set adjacent to the West Loop’s glistening 52-story River Point Complex, Italia — helmed by 10-year Gibsons veteran Chef José Sosa (Luxbar) — marries American classics with Mediterranean dishes.
Here’s what else to expect at Gibsons Italia:
Point of view: The restaurant’s unobstructed view of the skyline and river is majestic, and complements the three-story interior, designed by architect Mark Knauer. The bottom-level bar, second-floor dining room and upper-level lounge — with floor-to-ceiling windows and a retractable roof — each have their own vibes. “We wanted to create a restaurant that was approachable,” says director of marketing Liz Lombardo. “The bar is lively and social, and the lounge is a cozy area to catch up with friends or a date over drinks.”
Raising the stakes: Italia doesn’t stray too far from its roots: Gibsons USDA Prime Angus selections are still on deck, with the addition of Australian grass-fed beef (starting at $42). But the pasta and risotto are the menu’s shining stars. Made in-house, the pastas — like the casarecce with asparagus and ricotta ($20), or the fusilli with Neapolitan beef and onion sugo ($19) — are handcrafted with a soft metal tool to give their surfaces a rough texture, which helps the sauce adhere. Another standout is the seven-year aged Acquerello risotto with scallops and baby leeks ($29); ask for some fresh truffle on top.
Small talk: Those looking for Gibsons’ famous slabs of pie might be disappointed. True to its Italian heritage, the menu’s dessert options are more reasonable in size — think gelato and sorbet ($9) or an extra virgin olive oil cake with strawberry white chocolate salsa and balsamic ($10) — but don’t skimp on flavor.
233 N. Canal, (312) 414-1100; Gibsonsitalia.com
Photos by Kailley Lindman