GLEN ELLYN – In opening southern Italian restaurant Enza Sicilian Osteria in November 2015, owner Patrick Gibellina – whose family is originally from Italy – was connecting with his heritage.
But Gibellina's passion is the culture of New Orleans. And next month, he looks to reopen the space at 504 Crescent Blvd. in downtown Glen Ellyn as Rue, a restaurant that celebrates the culture of the Crescent City.
Enza closed its doors Sept. 16.
"We did it for a couple of years, and we think we had a really great restaurant," Gibellina said. "Italian [food] was my background, but my heart and passion is in New Orleans. I love everything about it, from the music to the food to the culture. It has an energy and soul about it."
He hopes to open Rue, which is a French word for "street," by the first week of October. New Orleans is known as the Crescent City, and the restaurant's logo will feature a crescent moon. The logo also is a nod to the fact the restaurant is located along Crescent Boulevard.
"Ironically, the area code of New Orleans is 504, and we are at 504 Crescent Blvd., which is pretty neat," Gibellina said.
Cocktails will be heavily featured in the new restaurant, which would just be open for dinner.
"Many of the most iconic cocktail recipes have come out of New Orleans," Gibellina said. "The Sazerac, which is commonly known as the first American cocktail, originated in New Orleans. We have a love for the cocktail culture... We make our own mixes and use fresh fruit. The idea for us is to offer the most unique cocktail experience outside of Chicago, so we're kind of bringing that cocktail culture to the western suburbs."
Prior to opening Enza's, Gibellina was the lounge manager at The Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock Center in Chicago.
"It's really a passion of mine, the whole cocktail culture and craft cocktails," he said. "I've built a team over the last couple of years. My bar manager, who is absolutely phenomenal, he came over from the The Aviary, which is one of the most renowned cocktail bars in the city."
In addition, Gibellina said his culinary team worked and trained under Michel Saragueta, chef at Bistro Monet in downtown Glen Ellyn. The restaurant closed last year following Saragueta's retirement.
"Some of my team worked directly under him," Gibellina said. "So we're using some of their influences and creating a New Orleans-influenced restaurant."
The menu will include fresh crawfish on Wednesdays and such typical New Orleans fare as jambalaya, shrimp creole, po' boys and gumbo.
"But then we'll also incorporate some of our own flair on New Orleans-Louisiana cooking," Gibellina said.
The new restaurant also will serve Cafe Du Monde coffee from New Orleans and feature live music.
Gibellina said he believes Rue will fit in well with the village's other restaurant offerings.
"There definitely is a niche for it," he said. "It definitely creates more diversity in Glen Ellyn. And Glen Ellyn is becoming a culinary town. There are a lot of really unique concepts."
He hopes customers will feel they are being transported to New Orleans once they walk inside Rue.
"I want people to really feel the energy of New Orleans, from the music that we play to the Mardi Gras atmosphere," Gibellina said. "I think it will be a lot of fun, and that's the idea. I want to be known as the fun restaurant in town."