Recent Top Chef contestant Justin Sutherland is opening restaurants with breathtaking speed and his latest is a revamp of a Cathedral Hill bar. The former Fitzgerald’s is now the The Fitz and will open for business at 3 p.m. today. The walls are lighter, the TVs are plentiful and the menu is stacked with all different kinds of pizza styles, including a serious contender for the best deep dish this side of Michigan Avenue.
The remade menu was overseen by Sutherland, his chef consigliere Donald Gonazalez, who oversees all of the restaurants in Sutherland’s universe, and Fitzgerald’s Graham Messenger. Pizza’s are named for locations, and each designated by the latitude and longitude location on the menu. The three deep dish varieties, named for three Chicago neighborhoods, are gaining steam as the most buzzed about items on the menu. There are also thinner crusts with classic and fancier toppings available.
Other new menu items include ribs, a new version of the spot’s popular burger, and a fennel and endive salad that’s unlike anything else served in a usual pizza spot. Cocktails are named for world explorers and dip into the tiki realm of flavors.
In addition to the new menu, the room has been given a huge refresh. What was once the awkwardly designed and dark Salt Cellar, is bright and welcoming with a bit of a beachy bent. Walls are white, the open kitchen has been covered by a wall that now sports large, high-definition TV’s, green plants hang from the bar and liven up corners. Even the back room, once a large dark corner, has been revived with a fresh coat of white paint.
The Fitz is the latest in a whirlwind of restaurant openings that Sutherland has led following his run on Bravo’s Top Chef. After taking the lead at the Madison Restaurant Group which owns his Handsome Hog, he has opened Fire & Whiskey, a steakhouse in Wisconsin, closed and plans to re-open Pearl & the Thief, launched Ox Cart Arcade, and he promises more plans coming. Madison Restaurant Group also includes Gray Duck, Public Kitchen + Bar, and Green Lantern, a bar below Public.