clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chicago Culinary Duo Decamp, Plan Restaurant Project in Detroit [Updated]

John Vermiglo and chef Josef Giacomino hail from chef Matthias Merges' restaurant group in Chicago.

John Vermiglio and chef Josef Giacomino are plotting an unnamed project in Detroit.
John Vermiglio and chef Josef Giacomino are plotting an unnamed project in Detroit.
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Two more out-of-town chefs are defecting to Detroit. The Chicago Tribune reports that culinary duo John Vermiglio and chef Josef Giacomino are plotting a restaurant in the Detroit area. Vermiglio grew up in Detroit and most recently worked as culinary director of chef Matthias Merges' restaurant group, which includes A10, Billy Sunday, and Yusho. Some may also know him from a stint competing on Bravo's Around the World in 80 Plates back in 2012. Giacomino was executive chef at A10, a trendy French-Italian inspired eatery in Hyde Park. This summer he was named to Zagat Chicago's 30 Under 30 culinary class.

My lifelong dream has been to return to my hometown of Detroit and open a restaurant," Vermiglio says. "I'm thrilled to have Josef alongside as we embark on this exciting endeavor and become part of an incredible Detroit community."

Giacomino echoes the sentiment and notes that Detroit's perceived renaissance partly lead to their decision. "John and I have talked about collaborating for eight years now; it's one of those things that has always been a dream. The upswing of Detroit is a real draw, and we're excited to be a part of that." The pair are mum on the specifics of the restaurant but say that they'll likely make pop-up appearances prior to the opening. Eater is reaching out for more details.

Update, 09/18, 1:42 p.m.: John Vermiglio and chef Josef Giacomino were in the throes packing for their move to Detroit, when Eater caught up with the pair today by phone. They say they don't have any finite location or plan for the future restaurant yet, but look forward to popping up regularly starting in November and giving Detroiters a chance to get to know their style and perspective. "We very much want to be part of the community," John notes. The duo is partnering with John's twin brother David Vermiglio and Will Lee, the beverage manager at Selden Standard who also assisted in the original launch of Antietam.

Coming back to Detroit was always in the cards for Vermiglio, who left the area in 2002. "I've been waiting for the city of Detroit to get to a point where I was comfortable our restaurant can survive." Still, Vermiglio's departure comes as a bit of a shock; he was named culinary director of the Matthias Merges restaurant group just three months ago, according to Eater Chicago. "It's tough to walk away as a culinary director," he says, but "This is a young man's game and I'm already 30."

Although plans aren't fully set for the restaurant concept, the pair envision an "affordable" and "approachable" restaurant. Says Giacomino: "A lot of times when we talk about the cuisine we describe it as Midwestern." Ultimately, adds Vermiglio, the location will determine what shape the restaurant will take.