By Jenny Quill, GazeboNews reporter
Since Noodle Bar closed up shop this summer, many Lake Bluff residents and downtown business owners have been hoping for a new restaurant to fill the void left by the popular eatery. Well, the wait is over: Pasta Palooza, an Italian restaurant, is set to open in the former Noodle Bar space by March 1.
“I feel like I hit a grand slam having him come here,” said Rob Douglass of his newest tenant at the Village Commons, Pasta Palooza owner Michael Moore, a Lake Forest resident who has been in the restaurant business for the past 20 years and owned as many as four restaurants in the Chicago area. His restaurant ventures include Pasta Palazzo, a Lincoln Park eatery he sold several years ago, and Tapas Las Ramblas, an Andersonville tapas restaurant he still owns.
For Moore, the built-out restaurant space and close-to-home location seemed a perfect fit. “It’s a very attractive spot to open a restaurant,” said Moore. “The guts of the restaurant are existing. And I love both towns. I have a 7- and a 12-year-old daughter, and we’re at Bluffinia in the summer.”
According to Moore, Pasta Palooza is going to be a take on his original restaurant, the similarly named Pasta Palazzo. “We’re really shooting for everyday affordable meals, lots of carryout, and it will be much more casual than most restaurants,” said Moore. “I think Lake Bluff and Lake Forest need a casual restaurant like this.” Moore says that he’s aiming to keep 90% of the menu under $10.
In the meantime, Moore and his crew are busy working on the cosmetics of the space, which will be given a fun, new look, likely with a Vespa theme. Moore will also be going before the Lake Bluff Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 19 to obtain the necessary special use permit. If all goes to plan, restaurant doors should be open by March 1.