Joe Carlucci, Carlucci Restaurant, Chicago, IL

With its moderately priced provincial Italian cuisine served in a sophisticated café-like interior, Joe Carlucci, in less than 2 years, has changed the nature of neighborhood dining. His restaurant also helped change the neighborhood, drawing suburbanites and out-of-towners to its doors, in addition to local Lincoln Park residents. The restaurant, whose handsome interior belies its former incarnation as an auto-parts store, is considered a cornerstone of what has since become known as Chicago's new Restaurant Row. Carlucci has demonstrated a special talent for creating a fashionable restaurant with mass appeal. He draws upon a keen understanding of the 1980's restaurant scene that includes a sense of restaurants as theater, as places to see and be seen. It also includes a willingness to take risks and recognize important new trends. Carlucci is earmarked for success because a large part of his commitment to excellence involves his participation in events and activities which benefit the community.