After The Crocus – Come the Cafes

After The Crocus – Come the Cafes

  • On May 7, 2016

Searching for Spring in Chicago

Chicagoans look forward to outside dining more than most. So when the crocuses, the flower synonymous with spring, begin to pop their heads through the hardened winter ground, Chicagoans breathe a sign of relief. This is a signal to the true end of winter and thoughts of sipping a glass of wine or enjoying a meal in the warmth of the sun quickly replaces the cold, dreary thoughts of winter.

North Shore citizens won’t have to search very far to fulfill those dreams when Convito opens its outside cafe. April can bring showers as well as the occasional snowflake, but it can also bring that perfect spring day. Convito will be ready!

Proprietors Nancy Brussat Barocci and Candace Barocci Warner along with Chef Eric Hammond have begun tasting new dishes for their warm weather menus. Inspiration for Chef Hammond first begins with seasonal ingredients. His goal is to find perfect dishes to compliment some of his favorite spring ingredients like peas, pea shoots, asparagus, and ramps – and then for summer – products like juicy ripe tomatoes, peaches and melons. One summer entrée that he plans to put on the menu is Chicken paillard (a pounded grilled chicken breast) served with fresh arugula, grapes, goat’s cheese, pinenuts and extra virgin olive oil. “It satisfies all the requirement of summer – simple, light and fresh,” say Chef Hammond.

Thoughts of wonderful summer meals enjoyed in Italy and France serve as inspiration for all of them. Candace Warner is lobbying for some twist on one of her favorite French Mediterranean salads – Nicoise which she enjoyed frequently during her college days in the South of France. Nancy Brussat looks forward to once again ordering Caprese, an antipasto salad made with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. She has enjoyed Caprese many times in Italy – even where it originated in Capri. Chef Eric always anticipates the return of Panzanella salad; Originating in Tuscany, this simple but classic salad is a must for our outdoor café.

Warm weather at Convito not only means opening our outside café but also introducing new market dishes perfect for warm weather dining. Chef Eric has already created a sumptuous salad that fits the bill using Asparagus paired with Fregola Sarda (a Sardinian toasted pasta), extra virgin olive oil and mandarin oranges. It is not only delicious but holds well and is a great picnic salad.

New dishes to match the mood of the seasons will begin to appear on the menu as the temperature climbs and the earth fulfills its promise of luscious, healthy produce.

Come Home To Comfort….Come Home To Convito

For more details on our menus and offerings of Convito visit our website
For more details regarding please contact Candace Barocci Warner at 847.251.3654
For details on Founder and Partner, Nancy Brussat’s blog on the beginnings of Convito visit her blog at

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