Onward (6580 N. Sheridan Road) is the newest addition to Rogers Park’s growing population of dining locations. Opened Nov. 23, it’s also the first and only “fine dining” restaurant in Rogers Park and features an elevated take on modern American food.
Onward prides itself on its upscale environment, something most Rogers Park restaurants lack. With a maximum capacity of 140 people, the restaurant has multiple rooms, a bar area and two fireplaces.
The restaurant strives to provide an atmosphere that’s designed to feel high-end yet comfortable. Low, warm lighting delivers the ambiance of a never-ending sunset. The rooms hold tightly-packed, square-shaped tables, chairs and windows, while rounded out ceilings make the place seem more open and not claustrophobic.
The bar and lounge has two TVs and features a slightly altered menu with more bar-friendly items such as a burger, chicken sandwich and house-made pretzel. With the holidays rapidly approaching, each room is currently decked out with seasonal decor.
“Even though it’s this modern American idea that’s very approachable and accessible to many people, it definitely has that level of elevation where you can see a lot of time and effort has gone into it,” director of operations and Loyola alumna Morgan Olszewski said. “You might have a burger, but it’s plated so beautifully that you look at it and you’re like ‘Don’t touch it.’ It’s gorgeous from the garnishes to the plating.”
Onward offers a distinct and versatile menu, featuring unique and high-end interpretations of soups, salads, appetizers and entrees, such as three in-house, hand-rolled pastas — tortelli, tagliatelle and strozzapreti — for $16 to $24.
“The dinner menu in particular is designed in a way that the customers are meant to share a lot of the dishes,” executive chef Patrick Russ said. “It’s not necessarily designed in the traditional way. It’s more designed for the diners to pick a few items from each category so they get to taste a little bit of everything.”
Russ said he recommends the chicken liver mousse, the scallops and the royal trumpet mushroom tortelli — which is one of the vegetarian options. He said customers have especially enjoyed the duck, which is served with root vegetables and parsnip puree, and the cioppino, which contains clams, shrimp and chorizo in a saffron broth.
Onward also plans to open a walk-up gelato bar and a patio in 2019, which could attract prospective customers.
So long as Onward continues to move forward it’s likely to become a token hotspot for Rogers Park dining and a new favorite among the community.