Che Figata, an Italian restaurant with a European-style market, is expected to open its first location in Naperville this spring.
The name of the eatery, pronounced keh fee-GAH-tah, means "that's cool" and was inspired by the slang expression used in Italy when discovering something special.
The 7,500-square-foot restaurant seats about 220 including a patio. It is located next to Hotel Arista at CityGate Centre and will focus on an "Italy to Table" theme, said executive chef and founder Mark Grimes.
The menu includes homemade pastas, artisanal Roman-style pizzas, a few twists on Chicago classics, rustic dishes from the wood-burning grill, house-made gelato and indulgent after-dinner treats.
"We're trying to replicate an experience in Italy," said Grimes, 54.
Additionally, a European-style marketplace will feature ready-made dishes, pastas, sauces, wines and seasonal ingredients for shoppers to bring home. Grimes said the market will sell products, such as olive oil, that are used in the restaurant. It will also cater to busy customers who might want to pick up dinner and a bottle of wine to enjoy at home. "It's an extension of our brand," Grimes said.
Using the best ingredients is key, Grimes added. "Che Figata stands apart from other Italian restaurants because of our commitment to the culture and the healthy aspects of the Mediterranean diet," said Grimes, who has opened more than 100 restaurants in his career.
After graduating from New York's Culinary Institute of America in 1990, he completed an apprenticeship in London. He then served as corporate executive chef of Walt Disney Corp. and started opening restaurants. He was involved with The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, and Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. He opened Maggiano's restaurants and was a co-founder of the Pinstripes concept.
Why Italian? "I personally love Italian food and Italy is one of my favorite places to travel," he said.
Che Figata's wine list, featuring more than 100 varietals, spotlights Italy's vineyards. Craft and barrel-aged cocktails and house-made limoncellos are other highlights.
The restaurant is expected to open in mid-to late-April. Grimes said he has created an atmosphere where people can "exhale, relax and take a breath."
Grimes said Naperville is a sophisticated area and he is enthusiastic about opening. "It's a real gem for Naperville," he said.