John des Rosiers talks a big game, and at times I've indeed wondered if talk was all he had going. So it was with tempered expectations that I entered Moderno and ordered pretty much the simplest pasta imaginable - the classic cacio e pepe, or cheese and black pepper. It flat out rocked. Moderno uses house made stangozzi which are wonderfully chewy - perfect to me. In a dish this simple where all the punch comes from black pepper, it darn well better be good pepper. It was. This had the aroma and taste of very fresh stuff that had been ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. The cheese was salty and good, with a slight departure from tradition in the form of melting it atop the pasta. It worked.
I liked Moderno so much that I'm disappointed that des Rosiers had thin enough skin to block me on Twitter when I joked about some typically delusional tweet of his that I can't even remember now. Oh well, I guess I can hope that no one has shared my picture with his staff and that I might be able to sneak into his restaurant again someday.
1850 2nd Street, Highland Park
2113 W. Division