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First Look: Sophia’s Brings Elevated Homestyle Italian to West Sixth

By Veronica Meewes

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.47.34 PMThis weekend, Sophia’s opened in the historic space last occupied by Sandra Bullock’s Bess Bistro. Chicago’s BDG Hospitality conceptualized the Italian restaurant, which will feature executive chef Mark Sparacino (of Chicago’s Topo Gigio, Sparacino, PROSECCO and more) at the helm, with Tom Schmitt as chef de cuisine.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.47.40 PMThe gist: Though plenty of Italian concepts have launched in our city in the past couple years, Sparacino says Sophia’s will fill a gap by elevating his grandmother’s red-sauce Italian recipes with contemporary flair. He calls it a “modern take on the classic Italian-American supper club.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.47.45 PMThe food: Sophia’s offers a variety of shareable items, from cold carpaccio, antipasti and salad plates to hot meatballs, skewered spiedino and grilled octopus. Housemade pasta options include fusilli calabrese with sautéed shrimp and broccolini, linguine with clams and baked spaghetti. You’ll also find hearty entrees like bone-in rib-eye, brick chicken and whole roasted fish. In addition to an extensive list of Italian wines and sparkling wines plus amari and house made vermouths, the bar menu features craft cocktails both traditional and reinvented, from a barrel-aged Negroni to a limoncello smash.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.47.49 PMThe space: The 3,700 sq.-ft. restaurant, which takes its design cues from speakeasies, includes a bar and lounge area, intimate dining coves and a covered upstairs terrace. Details like an antique European pewter bar, blue velveteen tufted seats and leather banquettes blend with custom artwork and ambient lighting to create a space that walks the line between vintage and contemporary chic.