GENEVA – Chef Alain Roby likes sweets. He also likes fine dining. Who says he couldn’t combine the two?
Roby has done just that with his recent expansion of Geneva’s All Chocolate Kitchen, adding his fine-dining restaurant, Primo.
A 21-year-old and over restaurant, Primo, which literally means “first dish” in Italian, offers customers a unique experience unlike any other, according to the world-renowned chef.
After discovering recipes from his mother and grandmother, Roby opened Primo with a set focus to bring some of those items to the menu.
Menu items will include a selection of domestic, French and Italian artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, crab avocado sliders, short ribs in a red wine sauce, Grandmother Louise’s eggplant confit and more. Primo will also feature a selection of local, French, German and Italian wines.
The uniqueness goes beyond the food with the atmosphere that Roby has created. The restaurant seats anywhere from 25 to 30 people and has select hours Wednesday through Saturday nights. Reservations are not required, but Roby did say there have been requests for tables into May at this point. Decor includes a 22-foot chocolate tower that customers can enjoy visually while dining.
Roby caught up with Kane County Chronicle reporter Chris Casey to talk about Primo and the response from customers.
Chris Casey: Where did this idea to open Primo come from?
Chef Alain Roby: The space was available, and we wanted a chance to have more food under one roof. We have food on the All Chocolate Kitchen side, but that’s more of pizza, soup and that kind of thing. The food at Primo is much more unique and features a lot of those unique items, like a caviar that no one else has. It’s those special recipes that I used to have when I was a child and had food made by my mother and grandmother.
Casey: Is that the main difference between Primo and All Chocolate Kitchen?
Roby: Well, yes. All Chocolate Kitchen is more active and noisy, which is not a bad thing, but Primo is a more relaxed, loungy atmosphere for customers to totally escape and have an evening just for adults.
Casey: What kind of experience can customers expect when dining at Primo?
Roby: When they come, it’s kind of really a unique place. I do not mean just visually, but also with the sound and music we have. As you come, you give your name, if you have a reservation, [the] door closes and we are entering a different world on [the] other side. It’s a totally different and unique experience. We have gotten comments from customers saying that they feel like they are in New York City or Los Angeles, not downtown Geneva. That is kind of a cool comparison.
Casey: What is most unique about the menu?
Roby: Well, first off, the lighting is dim inside, so the menu lights up when you open it. It’s a cool feature. But I think the main focus for the menu was obviously unique items, but to make sure it was not overwhelming. That’s been a big response from customers. There’s a list of entrees and wines and desserts and whatnot, but it’s very down-to-Earth and right to the point.
Casey: Being open for a little over a month now, what has the overall reaction been like?
Roby: You never want to brag, but people have been saying that we are so lucky you are here. You are bringing a unique and different experience that no one else has. They feel when they come here, they are totally escaping everything. I have been in the business for a long time, so I knew people would like it. However, with how much hard work and preparation went into this, I think the most rewarding thing is when you have customers recognizing and appreciating that.
If you go
What: Primo (21 and older only)
Where: 33 S. 3rd St. in Geneva
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
More info: www.allchocolatekitchenprimo.com or call 630-232-2280