Motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, free bar bites and house-made tortellini stuffed with seasonal squash are just a few of the draws at La Macchina Cafe, which will open at 1620 Orrington Ave. on Oct. 14.
Owned by Evanston residents Chris Casas and Marco Ferrarini, the restaurant will offer grab-and-go pastries and coffee drinks in the morning along with European-style breakfasts such as Italian spinach pie and meat and cheese plates with focaccia. The lunch menu will feature soups, salads, pizza and 10 to 12 varieties of piadina, an Italian dish where very thin dough is stuffed with fillings such as prosciutto and Fontina cheese or tomatoes and mozzarella, and then griddle fried.
Also open for weekend brunch and dinner, the spot's one-page menu of Italian and European-inspired dishes will change every three to four months. The duo was so concerned with authenticity that they sent their chef to spend a week working in restaurants in Italy.
"We're really trying to be as authentic an Italian experience as we can by bringing our own meats, cheeses and wines over," Casas said. "As much as we can do in house, we're going to do."
La Macchina hopes to bring in local workers before they go home by offering free bar snacks from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. such as bits of dough used to wrap salami or cheese. The restaurant will also focus on Italian drinks, with 15 to 20 wines available by the glass and bottle and a menu of Italian cocktails like the Spritz, a mix of Campari, Prosecco and club soda served with a slice of orange. Casas said he's also looking into working with Evanston's FEW Spirits and Temperance Brewery.
"We're big on dealing local and knowing where our food comes from," he said.
Casas named the restaurant for La Macchina Italiana, the Skokie
vintage Italian motorbike dealership he also owns. His passion for racing will
be on display at the restaurant, with bikes hanging by chains from the ceiling
and photos of the machines decorating the walls. Casas and Ferrarini designed
and built much of the furniture themselves, using wood and hinges from barns to
make their tables and wine rack and using huge water valves to hold up a buffet
"We were really going for a vintage industrial feel," Casas said. "It was really important to me to reuse as much as possible."
Casas said he plans to hold a grand opening party at the
beginning of November.