Restaurants

Butcher a fraction of Chop Shop fare

Friday, November 15, 2013

Minelli's Italian Butcher opened on Chicago's West Side 55 years ago, eventually moved to Niles in 1978 and is still in business, but at Chop Shop, the next generation is re-establishing a meat and sausage-focused business in Wicker Park where the butcher shop is just a fraction of what's going on.

You can't accuse the owners of the new Chop Shop, housed in a massive space beneath the Blue Line at North and Damen, of being lazy.

"We took what used to be a garage, which is kind of where the 'chop shop' came from, and the three partners just kind of took everything that they wanted and put it under one roof," said Chef Joshua Marrelli.

Everything means a full bar with inspired cocktails, a two-level restaurant, a full butcher shop (offering dry-aged meats and homemade sausages made through a display window), plus a deli counter, where you can pick up items like homemade porchetta sandwiches, layered with aged cheese and arugula. But the restaurant is where they've invested considerably. Not just with dry-aged rib eyes and kale salads, topped with parmesan and soft eggs.. But also an ambitious charcuterie program.

"There's the duck rillette, where we take duck legs, we cure them overnight and then we confit it in its own fat, and we whip it in our big stand mixer," Marrelli said.

There's also a country pork pate, salt-and-sugar-cured guanciale (that's jowl), plus a silky, luxurious spreadable chicken liver mousse capped with a maple-bourbon and cherry gelee. Acoutrements of fruit preserves fortified with Pimms, grainy mustard and pickled carrots serve as sweet, tart and acidic counterpoints, along with the obvious neutral canvas of grilled bread.

Marelli says the goal is to let customers choose what kind of eating and drinking experience they want.

"They can come in, sit here, have a beer, hang out for awhile; they can get some steaks, take 'em home, or if they want to have a little bit nicer dining experience we've got our dining room upstairs, we can sit down with full waiter service and plated-up dishes," he said.

Chop Shop
2033 W. North Ave.
773-537-4440
http://www.chopshopchi.com/

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