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Melman Boys Team Up with Reality TV Stars to open Italian Restaurant

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 30, 2011 2:30PM

RJ and Jerrod Melman (Image via RJ Melman's Facebook page.)
First, Lettuce Entertain You scions RJ and Jerrod Melman open Hub51, an inoffensive-if-not-great River North bar/restaurant. Then, they gut Brasserie Jo to open Paris Club, another inoffensive-if-not-great River North restaurant. Will the third time be the charm?

The Melman boys announced a new Italian restaurant, in partnership with E! star Giuliana Rancic and The Apprentice winner Bill Rancic. The restaurant will take over the space currently occupied by Ben Pao, which will close in about two weeks.

The restaurant has no name yet, but the "chef-partner" will be Doug Psaltis, formerly of the French Laundry. Psaltis consulted on Paris Club's menu and also put in some time in L2O's kitchen. This gives us cause for hope that the third major restaurant by the Melman progeny will be great.

Other factors may conspire against Chicago getting a new, great Italian restaurant. The chef isn't mentioned till the 5th paragraph of the press release (after the reality TV stars) and no information about the food (as opposed to the "concept") is given aside from its "authentic" and "progressive" nature. Grub Street Chicago couldn't get anything about the food out of RJ, so we'll have to wait and see. The restaurant will inevitably be facing stiff competition from Tony Mantuano's Italian repurposing of the current Bistro 110 space on Michigan avenue.

Given the level of monetary success attained by Hub51 and Paris Club, we're pretty sure this place will be a roaring hot spot.