Former Check, Please! Host Opens Restaurant in Evanston

Terra & Vine restaurant opened in Evanston in late September at 1701 Maple Avenue. – Alpana Singh photos

by Tina Johansson

A wood-fired oven and the need for Italian fare were reasons enough to bring Terra & Vine, which opened several weeks ago to rave reviews, into this cosmopolitan college town.

“The restaurant came retrofitted with a brick oven, and my partner (Matt Fisher) and I wanted to do a concept around a wood-fired grill. There also appeared to be a need for Italian restaurants in Evanston, so we decided to go for it,” said master sommelier and proprietor Alpana Singh, former longtime host of WTTW’s wildly popular “Check, Please!”

Osso Bucco, slow roasted pork are among the wood-fired dishes at Terra & Vine.

Located at 1701 Maple Avenue, near Northwestern University in this bustling city with a close, neighborhood feel, Singh and Fisher appointed celebrated chef Andrew Graves, to head the kitchen. He has created a menu of fresh, light Mediterranean fare with an Italian flair.

Everything from bright pasta dishes, salads, sides and desserts can be paired with any of the world-class wines offered. Cocktails, beers, and spirits come straight off a large marble-topped bar adjacent to the main dining area.  

By the way, that wood-fired oven has come in handy as several of the dishes and ingredients for others are fired up in it, including roast whole chickens, slow roasted pork “Osso Bucco,” and an array of hand-crafted pizzas.

There was another reason Singh wanted to open in Evanston. “I used to live in Rogers Park,” she said, noting the close proximity to Evanston. “I would often come (here) to dine and shop. There were nights where I didn’t want to have to travel all the way downtown just to get dinner and I felt Evanston provided an opportunity to cater to people who felt the same way.”

The open kitchen and wood fired oven are visible from the dining room at Terra & Vine.
The open kitchen and wood fired oven are visible from the dining room with its lovely furnishings and Italian tile flooring at Terra & Vine.

Located in the former Bravo! restaurant, the owners of Terra & Vine did a major overhaul of the place including separating it into not only a main dining area which can seat up to 105, but also creating four private dining rooms: Capri, Portofino, Naples and Palermo.

This is the third Chicagoland restaurant for Singh and her business partner: The Boarding House dinner restaurant in River North and Seven Lions on Michigan Avenue which offers classic clubhouse fare.

As with her other restaurants, Singh expects to be personally involved with Terra & Vine. “I am a very hands-on owner, and have a hand in every aspect of our restaurants,” she said. “Terra & Vine will be no exception.”

Singh, 40, a second generation Fijian who grew up in California, explained her parents are in the restaurant business. “You can say it’s in my blood,” she said.

To see more about the owner visit: .

To find out more about Terra & Vine visit: or call 847 563 4333.

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