GLENVIEW NATIVE DUKE Ross, the affable co-owner and operating partner of Main Street Social—Libertyville’s newest hot spot—is a man with a mission.
“We want to please every guest, every single time,” says Ross. He’s a man driven to provide every customer with “an A-plus” experience. “We don’t just want to feed people or quench their thirst. We want to give them a complete experience, and it’s very important for us to create that.” Given his background, that attitude is no surprise. Management stints with the DineAmic Group at Chicago’s Siena Tavern and Bar Siena taught him the right way to run a restaurant; they also introduced him to his co-owner and operating partner, C.J. Sojka, and Main Street Social’s executive chef, Joshua Ramirez.
Right out of the gate, it looks like a winner. Main Street Social is a welcome addition to Libertyville’s Restaurant Row. The 2,300-square-foot space has a hip urban vibe, with reclaimed brick, tone-on-tone gray wallpaper, dark woods, exposed ductwork and eye-catching light fixtures. The suburban location translates to ample street parking, although there’s a valet available on Fridays and Saturdays when the street really rocks.
The fare here is superfresh, as everything is made in-house, from pastas and flatbread dough to the gelato. Start your meal with one of the craft cocktails, all named for Chicago streets. The Oak Street, an enticing blend of mezcal vida, yellow chartreuse, lime, guajillo and mango, has just the right balance of sweet, hot, smoky and bitter, hitting every taste bud.
Don’t miss the Spanish octopus antipasti, as it’s the tenderest cephalopod in town. The octopus is confited overnight, then grilled and served over creamy avocado pesto with chunks of Cara-Cara orange and crispy roasted potatoes. The refreshing shaved cucumber salad, a riff on Greek salad, features a mosaic of paper-thin cucumber and radish over a bed of whipped ricotta. No blah flatbreads here; we loved the prosciutto version with roasted-garlic cream and mozzarella baked onto that tasty crust, topped with housemade prosecco-fig jam, prosciutto slices and arugula.
The housemade pastas are irresistible, especially the cauliflower mac and cheese, tossed with roasted cauliflower fondue, pancetta and pickled Fresno chilies. Not a light meal, but oh-so-yummy. A brick-roasted chicken entree proved a formidable foe: two brined and impeccably seasoned pieces of chicken over a happy nest of Parmesan potatoes and charred broccolini for color and crunch, finished with a simple jus. Crispy polenta fries with roasted tomato sauce make for a hearty but delectable side.
You can’t skip dessert here, even if just to admire the presentation of the cone of Zeppoli, light and airy Italian doughnut holes served with salted caramel and chocolate Nutella sauces. If you truly want to be the center of attention, order the trompe-l’oeil cheesecake meatball, a dark chocolate-covered orb of vanilla-bean cheesecake, with strawberry compote and sweetened cream cheese standing in for the tomato sauce and ricotta cheese, topped with a mint sprig. It’s fun, it’s delicious and it pretty much sums up the overall feel of Main Street Social.
MAIN STREET SOCIAL
608 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, 847.549.3490
Mon.-Thu., 4-11pm; Fri., 4pm-1am; Sat., 10-1am; Sun., 10am-11pm
Antipasti, flatbreads and charcuterie, $15-$24; salads, $12-$15; pastas, $16-$29, entrees, $16-$42; sides, $10; desserts, $6-$12; craft cocktails, $12