Tableside Show

Appears in the February 2023 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

Scott Harris goes his own way with Mio Modo

Mio Modo, 200 S. 2nd St., St. Charles
Mio Modo, 200 S. 2nd St., St. Charles

At this point, Scott Harris officially has entered the Frank Sinatra phase of life. He’s going to do things his way—thank you very much—from here on out. And why shouldn’t he? Back in 1992, he turned the Chicago Italian dining world on its head by opening the first location of his now ubiquitous Mia Francesca empire. At Francesca’s, he did away with soggy garlic bread, red-checkered tablecloths, and uninspired tomato sauces to give local diners something better: white tablecloths, fresh pastas, and a space inspired by the look and feel of a family-run Roman trattoria.

Flash forward to today and he’s feeling frisky again, so much so that he’s converted his St. Charles Francesca’s into a new concept called Mio Modo, which means “my way” in Italian. So what exactly is Harris’s new way? Well, it’s fancy bread and some circuses, too.

At Mio Modo, Harris places an emphasis on regional Italian cooking as well as tableside service. Order the house focaccia, for example, and you’ll be served a Ligurian variety, less pillowy and more crispy. Plus, the kitchen staff will be cooking with agrumato (olive oil infused with citrus skins) and buffalo-milk butters, the latter characterized by a slightly acidic, crème fraîche-like lilt.

Harris is hoping to add more drama to everyone’s dining experience. After all, there’s nothing more Italian than that, right? So expect to see Mio Modo’s servers wheel around tubs of hand-stretched mozzarella, which will be dressed tableside with “Scott’s treats”—fun little relishes, gremolatas, and peperonatas. Tiramisu will receive a similar treatment: ladyfingers soaked in a coffee liquor will get dolloped tableside with a creamy Frangelico custard and other toppings.

“The Scott Harris way,” says Jaysen Euler, Mio Modo’s culinary director, “is all about wowing diners—making them feel special and making them laugh a little, too.”


Photo courtesy of Scott Harris Hospitality