Eater Chicago | Ashok Selvam | May 9, 2019

Lettuce Entertain You shares opening renderings, details on RPM on the Water and Pizzeria Portofino

Chicago’s biggest restaurant group has unveiled more information on its massive multi-faceted riverside restaurant project in River North. The first phase, a pizza spot called Pizzeria Portofino, should debut in June. A private event space (RPM Events on the Water) should open in September and a seafood restaurant (RPM on the Water) is scheduled for a fall debut. The four-level space is one of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s most ambitious projects.

LEYE had considered several names as the project evolved. The space is the former Bridge House Tavern space at 317 N. Clark Street — on the Northeast corner of the Chicago River and Clark. It has spaces for boats in front which customers can use to arrive. LEYE has invested $50 million on the renovation. The scale of the project made it one of Eater Chicago’s most anticipated restaurants of 2019.

Pizzeria Portofino will debut first. It’s the space directly on the Chicago Riverwalk with a 130-foot outdoor terrace. The company hopes the pizzeria will transport customers to the Italian Riviera; LEYE is even giving away a trip. Besides hand-stretched pies, the menu will include vegetable antipasti and pastas. The drink list will include spritzes — ideal for the patio — and “approachable coastal wines.” It will be open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.

The event space will follow in September. At 6,000 square feet, LEYE is billing it as ideal for weddings and other functions. There’s room for 250 for seated events and 425 for receptions. It can also be divided into three spaces. Staff will create the menus and bring items from nearby RPM Steak and RPM Italian. RPM on the Water’s menu will include seafood and steaks.

The space will include floor-to-ceiling windows, two private terraces on the second level, and a main floor patio. It’s designed by the Rockwell Group. They’ve designed restaurants all over the world. Locally, they’ve worked on the Virgin Hotels Chicago, Travelle, and Hotel EMC2.

RPM is the brand spearheaded by Giuliana and Bill Rancic and LEYE chef/partner Doug Psaltis. Bill Rancic, a suburban Chicago native, gained national spotlight while appearing on NBC’s Apprentice. Giuliana Rancic is a TV personality on the E! network. They’re all working with Lettuce founder Rich Melman who has brought his children R.J., Jerrod, and Molly into the fold. LEYE’s restaurants include R.J. Grunt’s, Beatrix, and Three Dots and a Dash.

The project is a major addition to the Chicago Riverwalk, an area that’s seen a large transformation in recent years with more and more bars and restaurants opening. The transformation of the river area was one of the priorities of outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.