News & Features

Much-Anticipated Bar Toma and Slurping Turtle Open Downtown

November 29 2011 - 12:50 PM

Bar toma pizzaLove it or hate it, you're going to be spending some time shopping downtown this month. In the consumer playground between Pearson and Hubbard, diners generally had to choose between two categories of restaurants: the generic tourist traps (here's looking at you, Pizzeria Uno!) and sceney lounges like Paris Club and Hub 51. Thankfully, homeotown heroes Tony Mantuano and Takashi Yagihashi bring two new casual restaurants to the area this week, just in time to save your holiday season sanity.

Now open, Slurping Turtle is the much-anticipated noodle spot from Takashi Yagihashi, the chef behind eponymous (and budget-killing) Bucktown restaurant Takashi. Located at 116 W. Hubbard, Slurping Turtle is basically a free-standing version of Takashi's popular Sunday noodle brunch. The casual spot aleviates cravings previously satisfied mainly by Bill Kim and Argyle Street with ramen, dumplings, yakitori, sashimi, and tapas. Best of all, the under-$15 price tags mean that you can afford a few more shopping excursions on the Mag Mile.

Speaking of Michigan Avenue, this tourist-packed concourse is generally a culinary wasteland bookended by Spiaggia to the north and Mercat a la Planxa to the south. Thankfully, kindly Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano took pity on the underfed masses and rehabbed the stale Bistro 110 spot into Bar Toma, an Italian pizza and espresso bar opening this morning. Mantuano compares Michigan Avenue to an Italian piazza—perhaps he sees some charm we don't—and wants Bar Toma to be the bar and casual restaurant where you can gather with friends over wine, coffee, and snacks. The standout of the menu is his pizza selection, which he spent extensive time in Italy researching until he perfected the dough to his exacting standards. After a few glasses of grappa or some limoncello cocktails, you might even find the pedestrian traffic along Michigan Ave a bit more tolerable.