A midwest native, Joe Lambert was drawn to the culinary world at an early age. Growing up in Dubuque, Iowa, Lambert found inspiration in his father's passion for cooking and sharing food with others. Eager to pursue a cooking career in a large culinary landscape, Lambert moved to Chicago, where he interned under acclaimed chef Michael McDonald at One Sixtyblue in 2010. Climbing the ranks in Chicago’s burgeoning food scene, Lambert worked as a line cook at popular hot spots like Boka Restaurant Group’s neighborhood Italian restaurant, Balena.
Sparked with a passion for Mediterranean cuisine, Lambert then joined James Beard Awarded Executive Chef / Partner Paul Kahan at One Off Hospitality’s newly opened coastal-Italian inspired seafood restaurant within the Thompson Chicago hotel. Beginning as a line cook in 2014, Lambert quickly ascended to roles of kitchen supervisor, sous chef, executive sous chef and chef de cuisine. Now as Executive Chef of the Thompson Chicago hotel and Nico Osteria, Lambert aims to maintain the heart of Nico Osteria, while imbuing the menu with a rustic elegance that harkens back to the sun-drenched regions of the Italian coast.
Ushering in a new era of dining in the storied Gold Coast neighborhood, Nico Osteria at the Thompson Chicago hotel offers a menu of refined, coastal Italian cuisine to both travelers and local diners alike. Led by Executive Chef Joe Lambert, the restaurant’s culinary program highlights fresh, sustainable seafood and shellfish through house-made pastas and crudos, as well as inventive takes on traditional antipasti, like seafood sausage stuffed calamari with squid ink risotto. The pastry program complements these rustic dishes with made-from-scratch desserts, gelati and pastries. The bar program is balanced out by Wine Director Bret Heiar, who has created an unorthodox yet surprisingly approachable list of Old World, European-focused varietals and natural wines collected through world travels and estate sales, sure to please both casual wine drinkers as well as seasoned connoisseurs.
Nico Osteria’s 108-seat main dining room is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with Salone Nico, a stylish, 60-seat meeting place ideal for grabbing a light bite or libation.
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