Chicago sommelier, TV personality to open restaurant in Evanston


Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

A new Mediterranean and Italian-style restaurant, Terra & Vine, is moving into the former space of Bravo Cucina Italiana, 1701 Maple Ave., sometime later this year. Chicago restaurateur and local celebrity Alpana Singh, known for her appearance on the dining show “Check, Please!” will co-own the restaurant with her business partner Matt Fisher.

Billy Kobin, Reporter

A popular Chicago restaurateur plans on opening a new Mediterranean and Italian-style restaurant in downtown Evanston’s Church Street Plaza later this year.

Alpana Singh, who owns two other Chicago restaurants and hosted the popular restaurant-review show “Check, Please!” on Chicago’s PBS station for a decade, will open her new restaurant, Terra & Vine, at 1701 Maple Ave.

The space, which is just to the right of the Cinemark Century 12 movie theater, 1715 Maple Ave., was home to Bravo Cucina Italiana before the restaurant closed last October. Singh said Terra & Vine would be open for dinner all week, and brunch on weekends.

The restaurant, which Singh said she will co-own with her business partner, Matt Fisher, will serve a blend of Mediterranean and Italian food and will have a wood-fired grill to add a “rustic, smoky flavor to the food.” Singh said the restaurant would be open for brunch and dinner and that lunch would possibly be added in the future.

“‘Terra’ refers to the Mediterranean (and) the earth component,” Singh said. “But there is also the vine component which represents the wine.”

At age 26, Singh became the youngest-ever woman to achieve the rank of master sommelier in 2003, and she said her 20 years of experience in the wine industry will hopefully help her find and sell exclusive wines at Terra & Vine.

The 8,000 square foot space will hold 115 seats in its dining room and will have a 40-seat bar, a 70-seat outdoor patio and four private dining rooms that can hold altogether 140 people, Singh said. Singh and Fisher are in the process of looking for a chef.

The bar area will be dubbed “Bar Terra” and will aim to attract theater patrons and customers looking for a quicker, lighter or more casual meal, Singh said.

“The concepts are designed to stick to what a neighborhood needs, which is a neighborhood restaurant,” she said. “We want to be something that is accessible, portable (and has) an environment that’s casual.”

Singh submitted a food establishment license request to the city last Friday and said she hopes to open the restaurant by the summer if possible. Realistically, however, Singh said the restaurant would open in the fall.

Paul Zalmezak, an economic development official for Evanston, said Singh’s restaurant will be a “perfect fit” for downtown Evanston and that Singh’s background in the dining business will only help its success.

“It will elevate the Evanston dining scene,” Zalmezak said. “She will bring that (experience) to Evanston, and she’ll attract a crowd.”

Zalmezak also said the restaurant will positively impact the corner of Church Street and Maple Avenue.

“It’s just going to change the way that corner feels and looks,” he said.

Singh said she chose Evanston as a location for her new restaurant, as she used to live in Rogers Park and spent plenty of time in Evanston.

“Evanston was my go-to city,” she said. “So when the opportunity came up, it was a viable idea for me, having just experienced Evanston as a customer. Also doing ‘Check, Please!’ I’ve learned that people really want to enjoy good food wherever they are, and I don’t think it’s a prerequisite (for) a great restaurant to have to be in a city (like Chicago).”

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said Terra & Vine will add to Evanston’s well-regarded restaurant scene.

“Evanston is home to many, highly acclaimed and successful restaurants, so we’re very excited to add another well-known restaurant to the mix,” Coakley said.

She said Singh’s success in the wine industry as a master sommelier along with her plan to offer a wine collection at the restaurant adds a different element to the city’s dining landscape.

“Evanston has certainly made its name in the beer world, so it will be exciting to see a wine-focused restaurant as well,” Coakley said.

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