Terrace Room: Rustic Italian Food Memories in an Intimate Setting
A hidden gem located inside New Buffalo’s Harbor Grand Hotel; Terrace Room offers rustic Italian fare in a beautifully styled intimate setting.
The ambiance ignites various feelings in people. I’ve heard an assortment of descriptions such as relaxed, sexy, and intimate. Although each relatable, intimacy always comes to mind whenever I reflect upon Terrace Room.
When I’m there, I feel a connection with those dining with me. The atmosphere prompts me to relax and be freer with conversation. It could have something to do with the beautiful fireplace located between the dining room and the bar.
The idea when designing the space was to provide intimate dining along with a dynamic communal bar scene while highlighting the harbor front experience.
Influenced by the Frank Lloyd Wright approach to architecture and interior space planning, handcrafted natural materials of local and regional craftsman were utilized whenever possible. The result is an environment that celebrates artisans and unique one of a kind experience.
Curioso Design of Chicago completed the interior design.
I’d say that they’ve succeeded in achieving their goal. This space greatly enhances the dining experience.
Pulling inspiration from some of the beautiful meals enjoyed throughout life as well of some of the chefs of Chicago, Chef Alberto llescas’s goal was to create cuisine that would remind diners of times past.
Hand made pastas, breads, and flavorful sauces are made in-house and from scratch.
Chef Alberto’s idea of Rustic Italian means slow cooking takes priority. “It’s important to take the time to prepare things like sauces and put in extra care like grandma would do it. There’s no rush; real cooking takes time. Roasting takes hours.....when a person tries one of our sauces, I want them to taste all of the flavors. I lean towards that over anything."-Chef Albert llescas
Sourcing is of utmost importance. “We want our diners to know that we work hard at continuously searching for the best quality ingredients and we hope that shines through with every one of our dishes.”
During our conversation, I discovered that Chef Alberto has somewhat of an obsession with tomatoes. He uses several different tomato types for his sauces and salads. We chuckled over how picky he is but SERIOUSLY, don’t mess with his tomatoes. He only selects the best! Ingredients are very important.
When I tasted the Seafood Cioppino, I understood. The sauce had just the right amount of sweetness from the tomato and was so light and flavorful! The bomb!!
The same pickiness goes into wine selection.
“We’re not always looking for the big names when it comes to selecting wine. We search for the best quality wines in small batches; something unique, that you can’t get every day. We want to create a memorable experience in every aspect."-Chef Alberto llescas
Chef Alberto is one cool, humble dude. I enjoyed my conversation with him.
Here are a few additional things that he shared with me:
What’s your favorite Terrace Room menu item?
The Chicken Bandera; It’s a half chicken cooked to order…the oven roasting develops a nice crispness on the outside, and I feel like all of the components work together. The chicken comes from a local Amish farm and is very high-quality.
What is the most memorable meal that you’ve ever had?
That depends on the cuisine; there’s so many that I’ve loved……I’d have to say a Gnocchi that I ate at Sienna Tavern in Chicago. It was the perfect Gnocchi.
I'd also have to say the risotto from Riccardo Trattoria in Chicago.
As a chef I always try to do the best, I want to make the best gnocchi and the best risotto, and when someone does it better than me, that makes it memorable. It’s a shock and motivation at the same time....it always encourages me to improve.
What are your favorite things to eat?
If I’m in a restaurant and they have octopus, I must have it. In my experience octopus is very difficult to cook, people love it, but not everyone can prepare it well, so when I’m in a restaurant, and I have a good octopus, you can be sure that the whole meal will be spot on and a good experience. I judge people by their octopus.
What are your must-have ingredients?
Cheese, Olive Oil, Basil, Tomatoes
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
No, if I had the opportunity to be a mechanic in the past I would have done that because I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. Now that I’m a chef I understand that it wasn’t so much about being a mechanic, it was more about working with my hands…I’m always learning, and I enjoy what I do.
I already favored Terrace Room, but after my conversation with Chef Alberto and managing director Robert Kemper, I appreciate it even more.
There’s nothing like a great memory of a wonderful conversation over a delicious meal. I have good food memories here!
Hopefully, you’ll experience the same vibe when you visit Terrace Room.
- New Buffalo is a 90 minute drive from Chicago
- Gluten free options are available
- Terrace Room is good for Sunday Brunch