WICKER PARK — A restaurant with dishes inspired from countries around the Mediterranean is opening Thursday on Division Street.
Elia, 1938 W. Division St., is the latest restaurant from lawyer and entrepreneur Metin Serbest, who also owns Turquoise and Bordeaux — a restaurant and wine and jazz bar — in the same Roscoe Village building.
Serbest has overhauled the former home of restaurant Sea & Olive, which he opened in 2019 just before the pandemic and closed last year.
Elia is totally new restaurant, Serbest said. Its menu emphasizes hot and cold appetizers ranging from hummus options to grilled squid, grape leaves and an updated take on potato salad, among many other dishes.
Entrees include rack of lamb and several risottos, while homemade desserts include baklava and Mexican favorite tres leches. Serbest’s niece, Ezgi Bozdas, is overseeing the kitchen.
Elia will feature a full cocktail and wine list, and Serbest hopes people will stop by in the later hours for a drink after the kitchen closes.
Serbest said Elia is all about showcasing an updated, “modern” approach to Mediterranean favorites.
“We thought, ‘What would make us different than our neighbors?’ We provide a variety of appetizers, considerably smaller portions, plates that are shareable,” Serbest said. “Also, you cannot find another location on Division or somewhere else with the high ceiling, with the atmosphere. It’s just so comfortable.”
An immigration attorney who also owns a limo company, Serbest is a Kurdish immigrant who came to Chicago from Turkey more than 20 years ago, he said. His culture and upbringing inspired his approach to the restaurant business, he told Block Club in 2019.
“Kurdish people are hospitable,” Serbest said. “Hospitality runs with the level of how your community is structured.”
Elia features all new furniture, decor and a custom-designed bar, plus a private room for up to 30 people, Serbest said. Along Division Street, there will be ample patio seating during nice weather, when the restaurant’s front windows will be open. Weekend brunch will begin in June.
“It’s not just one thing about this place. Being affordable, romantic or modern. Good drinks, healthy foods. And hopefully good service, as well,” Serbest said.
Elia will open 5 p.m. daily Thursday through May 27, when it will open at 11 a.m. daily The kitchen will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday and until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The bar will stay open later into the evening.
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