The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Now Open: Nellcôte

By Minna A in Food on Mar 2, 2012 5:00PM

After months of anticipation, Nellcôte (by Old Town Social's Jared Van Camp) has finally opened its doors.

Nellcôte, inspired by the 19th century French mansion Villa Nellcôte, boasts a grand main dining room adorned with subtle touches of vintage and charm. The decor creates an atmosphere of classic luxury and sets the stage for the southern France-inspired menu. But it brings the funk, too - the scene isn't just the Villa, but the Villa as inhabited by Keith Richards in the summer of 1971.

Opening night allowed diners a peek at the (still somewhat preliminary) menu, with a sampling of cocktails and locally-sourced foods. Cocktails are simply labeled with their main spirit (e.g., whiskey, gin, vodka) but are complicated in flavor. The whiskey cocktail is stirred with blood orange, old fashioned bitters and a sweet and dark maraschino cherry for a rich smoky flavor, while the gin cocktail combines herbs de provence, grapefruit bitters and a squeeze of fresh lemon for a refreshing, tart drink. Served alongside the cocktails were a selection of seafood appetizers, a rice and truffle soup and the highlight of their menu: the pizzas.

Proud owners of their own flour mill, Nellcôte serves pizza that are a true delight, made with a light and airy dough and topped with a combination of prosciuttos and ricotta. Van Camp told us on our first visit that they started their yeast and dough "starter" over a year ago with Mick Klug Farms grapes, and each batch of pizza dough contains a bit of the original starter. The pizzas were so popular, the crowd pounced on them like vultures - threatening to block the kitchen doors to get a taste.

Speaking of the crowd, it was just what you'd expect from the owners of Old Town Social - posh, loud and glittery. We felt a bit... under-sequined, but if you want to feel like you're watching a live episode of Gossip Girl (perhaps with a bit more botox) you'll love it. And we loved it too - the people watching was great.

With pizza done right, and the uniqueopportunity to order truffles at cost, even after opening its doors, Nellcote still has us lusting for more.

Nellcôte is located at 833 W. Randolph.