CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 2016 – The team behind il Porcellino has tapped Aaron Martinez as its chef de cuisine. He will be working directly with chef/partner Doug Psaltis and partners R.J., Jerrod and Molly Melman on the new restaurant opening this spring in River North. Martinez, who was most recently at Intro and garnered three stars from the Chicago Tribune, comes to Chicago by way of San Francisco’s Quince restaurant under the tutelage of esteemed chef, Michael Tusk.
“Aaron is one of the most talented young chefs in Chicago who happened to learn Italian cuisine the right way as Quince’s chef de cuisine under Michael Tusk—arguably one of the best Italian chefs in the country,” says Psaltis.
Martinez and Psaltis are collaborating on the rustic Italian menu that will have a heavy focus on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti, focaccia pizzas and the signature dish, il porcellino, with heritage Berkshire pork and wild Umbrian cicerchia beans.
“Together, we have a mutual respect and the same sensibilities on how we communicate and approach food—by using the best of the best,” says Martinez. This approach, referred to in Italian as la materia prima, or raw material, seeks to use only the highest quality of ingredients. Il Porcellino is sourcing from the finest farmers and purveyors like Marigold Hill Organics from Grayslake, Illinois, or the family-run Giachi olive oil from Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region, where the il Porcellino team is working closely with Alberto Giachi to select olive oil that will be pressed and bottled specifically for the restaurant.
Also joining the il Porcellino team is award-winning mixologist Julian Cox, named one of the 10 most influential bartenders of the past 10 years by Food & Wine magazine. Says managing partner R.J. Melman, “If we were to make a list of the best bartenders to work with in the country, Julian is at the very top. We’re excited for him to get started on il Porcellino, his first of many—both existing and new—projects with us.”
Il Porcellino, named after the 17th-century Florentine bronze statue that is thought to bring good luck and a return visit to the medieval city, will be an all-day neighborhood trattoria. It will open with dinner, late night and carryout, with lunch and delivery to follow. The restaurant is slated to open this spring at 59 W. Hubbard St. For more information, please visit ilporcellinochicago.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @ilPorcellinoChi.