Longtime chefbros Paul Kahan and Marc Vetri are taking their acts on the road this October, with Vetri's Osteria making the long-distance trip to Chicago for a takeover of the Publican for one night only, and Kahan's crew trekking to Philly one week later to return the favor.
The Osteria team will fully take over the menu at the Publican for the entire night on Tuesday, October 6; the Publican will then pop-up at Osteria the following Tuesday, October 13. Both evenings will offer a full a la carte menu. Reservations are now open for both nights — call the Publican at (312) 733-9555 or Osteria at (215) 763-0920 to snag a spot.
The swap has been years in the making, according to Publican chef de cuisine Cosmo Goss. The idea was batted around for years — first coming up when Vetri did a dinner at the Publican while on tour for his book Rustic Italian Food, and recurring when Jeff Michaud came through Chicago for Eating Italy — but never got past the hypothetical stage until now. "We didn't just want it to be a beer dinner or something like that; we wanted to really swap restaurants. You can walk into Osteria and actually experience the Publican; you can go to the Publican and be at Osteria."
Though they originally mused about taking over each other's restaurants for a full week, logistics demanded that they scale it back to one night apiece. And those details were still very much being worked out when we spoke to Goss. "I think myself, Paul, a couple of the cooks, one of the sous chefs, will all go up there. The Publican is still going to be open the night we're at Osteria, and vice versa, so we can't bring the entire staff. That might be having too much fun, you know? But as far as, do we ship everything, or do we drive — that's still coming together. "
The exact menus are still a work in progress, too, but expect some greatest hits at both pop-ups. "It's hard to say exactly, because the Publican's menu changes every day," Goss said, "but people can expect family-style, with lots of vegetables and seafood and then a lot of our meaty stuff, the ham chop and country ribs. I think we'll bring some of our classic stuff, and they'll do the same. The menus will probably be about half the size as usual — we normally have about 40 on the menu here — but it will be a great representation of what we do, pastry and everything included."
"It's just two restaurants full of goofballs that cook good food," came Goss's final and perhaps most convincing sell. The final menus for each pop-up will be larger, but here's a look at some of the dishes most likely to make the journey:
Osteria at The Publican
wood grilled octopus, cured lemon, potato, chive
porchetta tonnata, arugula, celery, parmigiano
mortadella pizza, Sicilian pistachio pesto, mozzarella, mortadella
candele, wild boar bolognese
chicken liver rigatoni, cipollini onions, sage
rabbit "casalinga", pancetta, sage, brown butter, soft polenta
The Publican at Osteria
barbecue carrots, creamy herb dressing, dill, pecan
charcuterie plate, soppressata salami, pork pie, porchetta di testa, foie gras, blood pâté, morteau sausage, pickles & mustard
ham chop "in hay", Iowa grits, pepper jelly, zhoug, feta, pumpkin seed
country ribs, melon, cucumber, coriander