Another new restaurant has opened its doors on Lake Street, bringing new dishes inspired by what Chef Armando Gonzales calls “a new American cuisine.”
Just don’t call it Latin fusion, Gonzales said during a recent tour of the restaurant.
He’s trying to capture the “melting pot” nature of cuisine in the U.S. and create new dishes drawing from “flavors from all around the world.”
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Gonzales, who opened Amerikas, 734 Lake St., with his business partner Louis Castellano in early December.
“Latin fusion is pretty much the same food with a different presentation,” Castellano said. “Armando’s food, and what I liked about it and the concept, is you can’t really categorize it as being of a certain place. That’s why the name of Amerikas, because it’s a mixture of all of the countries that are here in the Americas.
“It’s got Latin roots, but it’s not anything that he’s bringing from any part of the world and then just twist it a little bit. They are his own creations”
Gonzales said he worked in Oak Park about nine years ago and “fell in love” with the village. “I said to myself, ‘I want to open a restaurant in Oak Park someday,'” he recalled.
Six years ago, Gonzales launched the Skokie-based restaurant Libertad, which, like Amerikas, offers Latin American-inspired small-plate dishes.
Gonzales said Amerikas will offer cocktail creations in the same imaginative vein as the food menu.
He noted that the menu will change out three or four times a year, but currently Amerikas is serving a wide variety of dishes, featuring Spanish octopus, Australian bass, French-cut pork chops and ancho-braised duck, among others.
“The asada skirt steak is popular right now,” he said, describing the dish that features tomatoes, chipotle goat cheese, yucca frites and chimichurri.
The Barramundi, an Australian bass that includes farro, Brussels sprouts, shallots and banana pepper sauce, and the Veneras, a creation that incorporates scallops, black rice, chayote and butter yuzu habanero sauce, are also in demand at Amerikas, Gonzales said.
The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere, seating 50 inside and 12 outside during the warmer months.
Gonzales noted that the restaurant is currently open for dinner — Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 3 to 8 p.m. — but he plans to begin serving lunch sometime in the next few weeks.
“You’re not going to find the same food here in Oak Park,” Castellano said. “Unique food, that’s what we like to serve.”
The restaurant takes the place of Novo, which closed earlier this year. The landlord in the lease transaction was represented by David J. King, president of David King & Associates.