LOGAN SQUARE — The Italian restaurant that took over the Quiote spot has reopened after months of dormancy — and the owner has big plans as indoor dining expands.
Testaccio at 2456 N. California Ave. reopened earlier this month for limited indoor dining, takeout and delivery. The restaurant has a new menu featuring Roman-inspired dishes like orecchiette di cacio e pepe, bucatini carbonara and Roman artichokes with preserved lemon and Sicilian olives, according to a news release.
Owner Aldo Zaninotto is converting Testaccio’s basement bar into a wine lounge inspired by wine bars in Paris with a curated wine list, champagne, cocktails and small plates. The goal is to open Soif Wine Lounge in the spring.
Zaninotto is also opening a Roman-style food truck called Pizzica on the restaurant’s outdoor patio in the summer. The truck will serve Italian street food, as well Italian frozen cocktails and wine on tap.
Both projects were part of the initial plan for the restaurant but didn’t materialize right away due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zaninotto said.
Testaccio opened in July but was forced to shut down just a few months later because of the fall surge of COVID-19. For that reason, Zaninotto considers this opening the restaurant’s official debut.
“If you haven’t been able to travel in the last year or so to Italy, I do believe what we bring is that culture of Rome,” he said. “My excitement for the area — I want people to experience the same thing.”
Testaccio is meant to complement Zaninotto’s existing restaurant, Osteria Langhe at 2824 W. Armitage Ave., which draws its inspiration from Italy’s Piemonte region.
Zaninotto worked at high-end restaurants like Savarin in River North and in wine sales before opening Osteria Langhe with a business partner. For years, he was looking to open a second restaurant and highlight a different region of Italy.
Testaccio is a neighborhood in Rome known for its industrial past, old slaughterhouse and regional cuisine. Zaninotto has said the neighborhood reminded him of Logan Square.
“After 14 years in the wine business, I realized that my Italian culture was misunderstood in this country,” Zaninotto previously said. “We talk about Italians and it’s always about pasta, pizza — it’s not what Italians are about. It’s by region.”
Testaccio replaced Quiote, which closed in August 2019 without explanation. It was later revealed the award-winning Mexican restaurant had been evicted after failing to pay $40,000 in rent. The restaurant had also been serving booze without a license, Patch reported.
Testaccio is open 5:30-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 5-9 p.m. Sundays. Brunch service is expected to start March 7.
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