Chef Matthias Merges has the extraordinary ability to open a restaurant in a location that is off the beaten path. First, there were Yusho and Billy Sunday (both in Logan Square) and now he brings you A10, located in Hyde Park. A10 is one of two restaurants that Merges is opening in Hyde Park (a scaled down version of Yusho is scheduled to open next year), as part of the University of Chicago’s efforts to redevelop the the 53rd Street corridor. Driving down 53rd street, you will find storefronts filled with your typical chain restaurants, until you come upon A10, which has transformed the otherwise ordinary storefront into a classic architecture beauty.
A10 is named for the motorway that connects northern Italy and southern France, from the Cote D'Azur to The Italian Riviera. It is part of the Mediterranean coast where the Alps meet the sea. The cuisine is inspired by Merges’ travels through the region, highlighting the traditions of handcrafted food with his modern interpretation. This translates to making items from scratch, from the food (breads and pasta) to drink (tonic and bitters). The team is led by Chef John Vermiglio ( from Billy Sunday), Manager Richard Richardson, and Alex Bachman (Yusho, Billy Sunday).
On my first visit, my husband and I decided to sample as much as we could of the menu, which is divided into small plates, large plates, pizza, pasta, sides, and dessert. We started off with the Wood Fired Snails, which were roasted with pearl onion and a rosemary olive oil biscuit. Given the fact that my husband would never try snails, this dish was a winner for changing his mind. He was pleasantly surprised. The Salted Cod Croquettes with charred rapini were perfect bites, that left you longing for more. It was a tough choice in deciding between the pizza and pasta. We went for two pastas, the Bucatini Carbonara (with guanciale and a 60 Minute Egg) and Campanelle (with Seared Squid, Prawn, and Prince Edward Island mussels). I cannot resist egg and seafood, so it was a match made in heaven. The pasta was perfectly cooked, as was the seafood. From the large plates, we chose the Boudin Noir, which featured Boudin Noir sausage, squid and pickled tentacle, hollandaise sauce, and squid ink vinaigrette - one of the most unique combinations that worked well together. You will also find the strongest sides on a menu at A10, with modern takes on traditional Italian and French dishes. The Charred Cauliflower with raisin and Pecorino blew us away - such a simple dish with complex flavors. You will fall in love with Brussel Sprouts in their version with beef tongue. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, we made some room for dessert. For those of you that are fans of Yusho’s soft serve, you will enjoy their take on the traditional Italian cannoli, made with pistachio and salted caramel. For the chocolate lover, the Venezuelan Chocolate Bouchon Cake with meringue and preserves is a match made in heaven.
Just like the food menu, the wine and cocktail menu were created to highlight the region. Alex Bachman is a true artist when composing a cocktail. It makes it hard to choose between his cocktails and the well thought out wine list. Richard Richardson has composed a wine list that features a wide range of lesser known varietals, while offering the perfect pairing. This alone warrants a return visit for me.
I have yet to travel to Europe to experience the beautiful food culture, but A10 will transport you without having to board a plane. Hyde Park - you are lucky to be blessed with such a great gem.