Chicago Restaurant Picks from Spiaggia's Chef Tony Mantuano

Chicago Restaurant Picks from Spiaggia's Chef Tony Mantuano | Chicag Restaurants | Groupon

There's a good chance you can run into Chef Tony Mantuano outside of the kitchens at Michelin-starred Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave.). When we interviewed the chef, he shared some of his favorite Chicago restaurants outside of his own:

GROUPON: I’ve seen you around at a couple restaurants—not that I’m stalking you—but I’ve seen you at Au Cheval (800 W. Randolph St.) and Slurping Turtle (116 W. Hubbard St.), and I was thinking it’s really cool to see other chefs at their peers’ restaurants, supporting each other, and it also makes me feel like I picked a good restaurant to be in. It made me wonder, what are your favorite places to go when you’re not in your own kitchen?

TONY MANTUANO: Slurping Turtle we like a lot. Let’s see. I like Publican (837 W. Fulton Market) a lot, I’ve gone there quite a few times. It’s sort of a regular place; in fact, I think I’ve probably celebrated three or four birthdays at Publican, so that tells you something right there. I really enjoyed the steak house at Next (953 W. Fulton Market); I thought that was really fun and different for them. It was really delicious with cool takes on standards. It was a lot of fun.

G: What is it that draws you to these restaurants in particular? Is there a certain characteristic you’re looking for when you’re outside of your own kitchen?

TM: You begin to respect certain chefs and you know they’re going to do something that’s going to be pretty interesting. You know who’s really doing a great job, who’s at the top of their game. There’s only so many calories in a day so you want to make sure you spend them right.

G: Would you say there’s a community feel among the chefs in Chicago?

TM: There’s absolutely a community feel. There’s a lot of respect and graciousness when you go to each others’ restaurants. I don’t know if other cities are like this, but Chicago has a great chef community…There’s a lot of respect; you’re always rooting for the other guy to be successful; I don’t think you’re ever rooting for the wrong reasons or for someone to fail. When there’s someone who’s really working hard and at the top of their game, you want to root for that guy.

Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography