Norman Fenton and Karen Young are opening Cariño, a tasting menu restaurant in Uptown. Credit: Courtesy Tulum Pluton

UPTOWN — Uptown will not be without a tasting menu restaurant for long, as a new Latin eatery is set to take the place of a fine dining spot that recently closed.

Cariño is aiming for a December opening at 4662 N. Broadway. It is being opened by celebrated chef Norman Fenton, who worked at the Michelin-starred Schwa and served as executive chef at Brass Heart, the upscale restaurant that opened in 2018 at the same address.

Brass Heart closed in June, according to Eater.

Cariño will have a similar format to Brass Heart, including an intimate, 20-seat dining room and a tasting menu where multiple small dishes are served as part of a single meal.

Cariño, however, will specialize in Latin foods, with Fenton drawing inspiration from his restaurant in Mexico and his time traveling and cooking throughout Central America and Mexico, where Fenton has worked and where he met his wife.

Fenton is opening Cariño with Karen Young, a hospitality industry veteran who owns Wild Tulum in Tulum, Mexico, where Fenton is executive chef.

“Cariño is my heart,” Fenton said in a statement. “My time spent in this part of the world has changed the course of my life, and I hope that I can show my deep love and gratitude to its people the best way I know how – through food.”

The Latin-inspired tasting menu spot Cariño will open in the old Brass Heart Space (pictured) in Uptown. Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago

Cariño, the Spanish word for “beloved,” will serve a 12-16 course tasting menu focusing on foods from Central and South America. It will also serve Latin American wines, beers and spirits.

The restaurant will also host a late-night “taco omakese” at the chef’s counter on select nights. Omakese is the Japanese tradition of allowing a chef to create unique dishes without the aid of a menu.

Cariño is Fenton’s first venture as chef-owner after serving as executive chef at Brass Heart for three years.

Brass Heart, known for its inventive takes on American fine dining, opened in 2018 and garnered acclaim. It successfully pivoted to a six-course to-go meal to keep its doors opening during the pandemic.

The restaurant returned to in-person dining after pandemic restrictions were lifted but closed in June, with Fenton saying not enough customers returned post-pandemic, according to Eater.

Brass Heart opened in the space previously occupied by another upscale, renowned eatery 42 Grams, which closed in 2018.

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