Melmans, Rancics Announce Italian Restaurant

River North eatery to take over old Ben Pao spot

We have a pretty good guess where the next River North spot to see and be seen will be located.

Celebrity couple and reality show stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic are teaming up with Jerrod, RJ and Molly Melman of Lettuce Entertain You to create an Italian restaurant at 52 W Illinois. The space is currently occupied by Ben Pao restaurant, which will close in early September to begin construction on the new eatery.

Monday's announcement is the culmination of a debate on the couple's Style Network show, Giuliana & Bill, where the couple has been trying to decide whether to open a restaurant in LA or Chicago. The decision detailed in Monday night's show, airing at 7 p.m.

Acclaimed New York chef Doug Psaltis will lead the kitchen at the new restaurant, scheduled to open in January 2012.

The project follows a similar script of the Melman's most recent project, Paris Club, which rejuvenated an old Lettuce Entertain You project (Brasserie Jo) into something new.

Paris Club and its swanky rooftop lounge, Studio Paris, has proven to be a draw for celeb-types, so with the reality TV aspect thrown into the mix at the new spot, don't be surprised to witness more than a few People magazine moments.

A name has not been revealed for the new restaurant.

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