Dusek’s Gets a Replacement Inside Thalia Hall From the Taqueria Chingon Team

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Marcos Ascensio says Pilsen and nearby Little Village need more mariscos. The chef grew up in Little Village, and while La Vilita has plenty of Mexican cuisine, Ascensio says he became accustomed to driving to the North Side if he was in the mood for seafood.

Now, Ascensio and his team from Logan Square’s Taqueria Chingon — including Obelix and Le Bouchon’s Oliver Poilevey — have an opportunity to rectify that problem. They’re taking over the ground-floor space inside Thalia Hall, partnering with owners 16” on Center and opening a new restaurant inside the former Dusek’s. The interiors have been gutted to make room for Mariscos San Pedro, which should open by early summer, 1227 W. 18th Street.

With the churches in the area, and with St. Peter hailed as patron saint of fishermen, the name made sense for the team. Cynically, Poilevey, Asencsio, and new partner Antonio Incandela (a pastry chef at Obelix) say while some customers may complain when tacos aren’t cheap (something hear a lot in Logan Square at Taqueria Chingon), they don’t complain about the prices of mariscos.

“We want to make it fun,” Ascensio says. Much like Obelix, folks can come in a few times a week, crush a few appetizers from the raw bar and a beer and head out. That’s also important for Thalia Hall visitors attending concerts. The venue, which was home to Dusek’s (a former Michelin-starred restaurant), also includes two bars, Punch House and Tack Room. The San Pedro team will begin its infiltration of Thalia Hall by unleashing a small bites menu at Punch House. That will also allow them to measure reaction and adjust San Pedro’s opening menu accordingly.

After a decade, Dusek’s closed in December. 16” on Center, which is also behind Revival Food Hall and the Salt Shed, tried to breathe new life into the restaurant with new chefs and a fancier menu. Poilevey says they’ve been in contact with the company and that San Pedro was originally supposed to open in Logan Square, but a real estate deal fell through.

Folks with a little bit more time on their hands can indulge with a bottle of wine and a whole fish (think snapper or a “baller” turbot) cooked in the hearth left over from Dusek’s. Unlike many mariscos restaurants, which may hone in on a region in Mexico, San Pedro will combine flavors and techniques. For example, they may use Japanese panko on snapper to ensure the fish gets extra crunchy.

Beyond the fusion of techniques, Poilevey says the quality of fish will set them apart from other restaurants. They’re working with a variety of vendors and will steer away from frozen seafood.

“We get a great product and treat it with great technique and, you know, serve with with great masa and a great salsa,” Poilevey says. “We’ll just kind of let it….”

“Speak for itself,” Ascensio says, completing his colleague’s sentence.

Some of the menu items from Taqueria Chingon, like duck carnitas and perhaps the octopus off the trompo, could make it to Pilsen. Much of the menu remains under development, but one dish they’re workshopping is duck tamales. Incandela, who worked at Spiaggia, jokingly calls himself “the random Italian” on the project. Like Poilevey, whose parents owned Le Bouchon and La Sardine, he grew up in the restaurant world. Incandela’s father owned Sicily Restaurant in Elmwood Park. He’s focused on seeing “how far I can take masa in a pastry” while maintaining respect for classic Mexican desserts.

“I don’t want to stray too far away from what makes it classically beautiful,” he says. “But I also want to put our own spin that would match the daringness, I guess, of the rest of the menu.”

They’re imagining the kind of towers or seafood platters that groups seated in the booths will quickly grab as soon as the plate hits the table. Fun cocktails with some element of interaction are also planned. They also want to accommodate Pilsen’s drinkers and make sure San Pedro has plenty of beer options. Logan Square’s Pilot Project Brewing could work on a collaboration.

Before working in restaurants, Ascencio studied to be an engineer. He sees himself as MacGyver and Poilevey calls him their handyman. The team is excited to expand. In January, they were shortlisted by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Mariscos San Pedro, inside Thalia Hall, 1227 W. 18th Street, planned for an early summer opening

Thalia Hall

1807 South Allport Street, , IL 60608 (312) 526-3851 Visit Website

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