'Top Chef' fan favorite Fabio Viviani brings flair, fare to Glenview with Chuck Lager America's Tavern
Since Fabio Viviani charmed his way into being voted a Fan Favorite on Bravo's "Top Chef" competition, he's become one busy restaurateur.
The celebrity chef has opened some 50 different restaurants, bars and event spaces since he relocated to California in 2005 from his native Florence, Italy.
Among the latest and nearest will be Chuck Lager America's Tavern, in The Glen Town Center at 2601 Navy Blvd. A ribbon-cutting takes place at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 20. The restaurant will be open for regular service starting Tuesday.
"It's an elevated tavern experience," said the friendly Viviani, 44, who was working in a Florence restaurant by the time he was 14.
"There are plenty of sports bars, plenty of American diners. This is your elevated sports bar, your elevated tavern, with better food and more quality than your average sports bar," he said.
Representing what's being billed as a "decidedly American" menu with a "sprinkling of international influence," the opening menu highlights beef and pork ricotta meatballs, tuna poke nachos, truffle mushroom flatbread, a "Mt. Kilimanjaro" double-patty burger with bacon and beer cheese, a Mediterranean grilled shrimp salad and Bomboloni, or Italian doughnuts.
"This place is going to be a little bit of everything," Viviani said. "That's what America is."
Bright and airy while grounded by earth tones in its furnishings and flooring, Chuck Lager also offers a solid, wraparound bar where people can order craft cocktails, bourbons, whiskeys, wines and draft beers.
Viviani's Fabio Viviani Hospitality firm is in partnership with the Colby Restaurant Group.
The Glenview franchisee is David Falato of Nadel, a manufacturer of promotional items for companies, but he's also helped develop Sola Salon Studios and Jet's Pizza locations in Chicago, California, Texas and Nevada.
The Glenview location of Chuck Lager America's Tavern joins others in Orland Park, Florida and Delaware, part of a group Viviani said will include 10 restaurants by the end of 2023.
The Italian chef's first Chicago restaurant, Siena Tavern, in partnership with DineAmic Hospitality, opened in 2013. There is a Bar Siena at the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.
His latest enterprise, aside from Chuck Lager, is Jars Sweets and Things, a dessert concept with a spot in Chicago's Fulton Market and others planned for Texas and California.
Along with his restaurants, Viviani has written three cookbooks and co-authored a fourth, earned a 2012 Webby Award for the online cooking show "Chow Ciao," and also has cooking segments on YouTube, "Fabio's Kitchen," followed by more than 50,000 subscribers.
It's apparent from his humorous, unassuming delivery why the engaging Viviani was a fan favorite on Season Five of "Top Chef." He came back to Bravo's "Top Chef: All Stars."
Viviani has a unique take on opening a restaurant.
"It's like getting punched in the face. No matter how many times you open a restaurant you get surprised, but in a good way. Although you expect it coming there's always an element of surprise. But you love it," he said.
He feels that Glenview is "underserved" in its dining options and looks to rectify that starting Monday.
"I'm very thankful to be in the Glenview community, and I can't wait to serve the crowd," Viviani said.