Matthias Merges' A10 boosts Hyde Park's food scene

December 13, 2013 (CHICAGO)

But ABC7 Eyewitness News food reporter Steve Dolinsky says the area can finally brag about a restaurant. A former Charlie Trotter vet who's had success in Logan Square with a japanese concept, is now bringing flavors from Italy and France to a rejuvenated corner along 53rd Street.

If 2008 marked Hyde Park's political moment, the end of 2013 will go down in history as the time A10 gave a boost to the neighborhood's food scene. Straddling the corner of 53rd and Harper, the restaurant honors the highway between Northern Italy and Southern France.

"Handmade breads, handmade pastas, just good, market-driven quality food done well," said Matthias Merges, owner of A10. "So we have bucatini we have capanelli we do our handmade orrechiette.."

And bucatini, made in-house with a fancy extruder. It's tossed with guanciale (that's pork jowel) some heavy cream and egg yolks. After it's plated, seasoned breadcrumbs, parsley and a perfectly-cooked soft egg grace the top, sprinkled with a bit of aleppo pepper.

"We have the pizza on the focaccia crust, with Barese sausage and smoked cherry tomato with basil," said Merges.

Also boudin noir, or blood sausage, is embedded with bits of squid, then plated over braised cabbage with a lemon vinaigrette and some charred squid tentacles on the side. There's always a vin de maison, or house wine, that's made by fortifying wine with herbs, spices and citrus zest. Served on the rocks, you add as much sparkling water as you wish.

Desserts are dead-simple yet still creative, like their "cannoli."

"We decided to take it in a whole different direction, we make it into a soft serve, with the cannoli shell and all of the flavors you would find in a cannoli but done as an ice cream," he said.

Merges says the restaurant is an investment in the community, and it's only the beginning.

"We just think that everything is right right now. There's a great diverse clientele down here that's looking for something as an option and we think that we bring something that pleases everyone," said Merges.

And Merges and company aren't finished with the neighborhood just yet, they're opening another Yusho - that's their restaurant from Logan Square focusing just on Japanese food - just three blocks west of here in the next few months.

The restaurant is only open for dinner, but lunch service will begin soon.

1462 E. 53rd St.

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