Published Sept. 25, 2014
Two restaurants, jewelry store
By Ken Knutson
Downtown Hinsdale has two new dining options for hungry visitors, with two more eateries slated to open in short order, while those looking for a unique accessory can stop by the village’s newest purveyor of fine jewelry.
Vistro, the latest venture from chef and co-owner Paul Virant, began welcoming patrons at the end of August to its 112 S. Washington St. location.
Billed as a “rustic, bistro-style” restaurant, Vistro shares the seasonal, locally produced emphasis of Virant’s celebrated Vie in Western Springs and Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park.
Virant said the comfort-food menu and relaxed environment is geared to be inviting for all.
“This is not as formal as the other two restaurants,” he said, noting that a wood-burning oven is a central kitchen element.
“People have been pretty excited about the wood oven. That’s kind of a fun thing. We’re doing a lot of things out of there,” he said.
Virant said having a business in Hinsdale is especially rewarding since it’s also his place of residence.
“My oldest son goes to school across the street (at Hinsdale Middle School), so that’s pretty neat,” he said.
Vistro is currently open for dinner Monday through Saturday, with plans to launch lunch service in November.
Virant said the response thus far from the community has been encouraging.
“We’ve been fortunate that a lot of people have been coming in. It’s been real busy,” he said. “It’s just a matter of making sure they come back, making sure they’re happy.”
One block south at 44 S. Washington, pan-Asian restaurant Wild Ginger opened its doors Sept. 8.
Owner Lisa Fang said getting on people’s radar has not been a challenge early on.
“It’s been busy since we opened up,” she said.
Manager Miki Ho believes the diverse array of cuisine will appeal to a broad segment of the dining demographic.
“We have Chinese, we have Thai and we have Japanese. If people are looking for Asian food, we have mostly everything,” Ho said.
A sea bass dish and Pad Thai noodles are among the favorites, she said, and lunch portions are also offered.
Wild Ginger features both a drink bar and a sushi bar. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Solaris Jewelry at 9 E. First St. is the creation of father and son team Damir and Deyan Missbrenner.
The store, which opened mid-July, sells precious gems as well as artwork.
Damir said the family had plied its trade in high-end merchandise on cruise ships until about eight years ago, when changing market tides compelled them to chart a new course.
“We decided, ‘Let’s go back to our roots,’ ” he said, noting the family has lived locally for many years. “We brought it here, and so far so good.”
He said visitors will not confuse Solaris — latin for “from the sun” — with other establishments in town.
“We’re not really competing with other jewelry stores,” Damir said. “We try to sell what they don’t sell, mainly colored gemstones. Our specialty is rubies, emeralds, sapphires, tanzanite, and we sell it from the very raw all the way to highly diffused.”
Their collection also includes vintage pieces, which he said is verifiable by simply turning the item over.
“Anything that is finished on the back side of a piece of jewelry is at least 120 to 150 years old,” he remarked.
Among the paintings for sale adorning the walls are works by Damir himself.
“We over kind of a combination gallery and jewelry store,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling when somebody says, ‘I’ve never seen things like this before.’ ”
Baldinelli Pizza’s move from the alley at 34 E. Hinsdale Ave. to higher profile digs at 114 S. Washington St. is expected to be completed by the end of this week, according to store staff.
The larger space will have a banquet room in the back and a wood-burning brick pizza oven in the kitchen.
“It’s just basically going to be casual,” owner Tom Distasio said earlier this summer. “We won’t have wait staff. You’ll take your food and sit down at the table.”
Local businessman Doug Fuller said the Fuller House at 33 E. First St. is going to dazzle guests when it opens in late October or early November.
“We’ve got beams that came out of a centuries-old Catholic church in Chicago, and the wood at the bar is from a Kentucky barn where a Kentucky Derby winner was stabled,” he said of the planned 130-seat bar and restaurant.
And then there’s the 180-inch TV that will be mounted by the staircase connecting the two levels. “It’s going to really neat,” he said.