In the five years Chicago’s GT Fish & Oyster has been open, they’ve sold roughly 1.5 million oysters. Of the concept, the restaurant’s chef and partner, Giuseppe Tentori, says it was, at first, a challenge. “Five years ago, there were not too many seafood restaurants — it was like fine dining or super casual.”
And while Chicago may be inland, Tentori says fish is being flown into the Windy City every day. “It’s beautiful, too. Sometimes they save the best fish for the big cities because we pay the prime price.”
Tentori went to culinary school in Milan, and, after working for four years, moved to Chicago to work for Chef Gabriel Viti. Tentori headed off to Utah for three years after that to open a restaurant called Metropolitan, then studied with Charlie Trotter for about nine years, and in 2007, he started working for the Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group, which owns GT Fish & Oyster.
GT Fish & Oyster is known for its shareable plates format, but is not limited for those who do not want to share. (Bonus: The restaurant even makes its own sauces.)
A huge driver is the restaurant’s oyster selection. “Every oyster has different flavor,” says Tentori. “For wine, terroir is very important. Oysters, same thing.” Today, GT Fish & Oyster has about 95 different varieties of oysters, 63 of which can be expected daily, plus a couple of more unique varieties for oyster enthusiasts.
“We spend a lot of time on the phone,” Tentori says. “We’ve built a strong relationship with our purveyor, so they know what we like and what we want, so they will source it for us and tell us exactly, ‘These are the best oysters right now.’”
Tentori explains GT’s menu as a balanced mixture of traditional and modern seafood. For the diners who prefer the traditional route, there’s fish & chips, lobster rolls, mussels, oysters, and the like. For diners who prefer a more modern take, the menu offers items like shrimp bruschetta with avocado, toasted pistachio, grapefruit, and cilantro. In this “Table 42” vignette, Chef Tentori shows us how to make this dish.
In the Kitchen
The shrimp bruschetta appetizer dish starts with searing salt-and-peppered shrimp. Avocado mousse, housed in a bag for application, is made by mixing avocado and jalapeño — but keeping the avocado pit in the bag is key to ensure it stays green for a longer time. Spread the avocado mousse onto the bruschetta. Then, cut grapefruit in thirds and place on top of the mousse. Split the shrimps in half and add onto the bruschetta. Add fresno pepper, pistachios, cilantro leaves, and lime zest.