It’s difficult to believe that the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago is turning eight this May. And while the Renzo Piano-designed white aerie continues to beguile with its unrivalled collection, the powers-that-be felt it was time to spruce up its third-floor restaurant, Terzo Piano.
The original architect Dirk Denison was drafted for the task, adding a new reception area anchored by a white marble bar top that’s lit with an Eileen Gray ‘Tube Light’, while introducing a grey swatch of walls and leather paired with Patricia Urquiola chairs, Arne Jacobson stools and white benches. And just to remind you of where you are, a clutch of sculptures by Nairy Baghramian hold court in vitrines.
The restaurant’s owner and chef Tony Mantuano recently recruited Carolina Diaz to direct the kitchen. Here, the focus may be Mediterranean by way of Italy, but the ingredients are resolutely sourced from the Midwest. Think Wisconsin Parmesan shaved over truffle-scented mozzarella, smoked grapes, spaghetti with bottarga and tuna crudo, and a triumphant lamb ragu sauced with saffron butter.
During the long drab winter months especially, Diaz’s menu is best savoured at tables lining the long stretch of high windows that look out over Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. In the summer, it will be all about al fresco dining on the Bluhm Family Terrace, which will also mark the debut of British architect David Adjaye’s ‘Washington Skeleton’ chairs for Knoll.