Uptown’s Upcoming Fine Dining Restaurant Should Open in Late August
Brass Heart is a seasonal fine dining restaurant in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Michelin-starred Chef Matt Kerney creates a tasting menu experience that is as progressive as it is approachable, procuring the finest local and global ingredients. The restaurant features an open kitchen and intimate 20-seat dining room with a relaxed atmosphere as well as cocktail cart for tableside service. Brass Heart is conscious of guests with dietary restrictions and offers a full vegan tasting menu as well as gluten-free options. We look forward to welcoming you soon!.
Former Longman chef Matt Kerney talks about his new restaurant Brass Heart, fine dining, rice and beans
The Chicago Tribune
Jesse Lirola photography firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Partner Vincent Maiorano brings a guest’s perspective to the table at Brass Heart, the tasting menu restaurant he co-owns with wife, Margaret Eisen Maiorano, and Executive Chef Matt Kerney. A fine dining aficionado and experienced restaurant owner, Maiorano ensures welcoming, attentive service so thorough that a guest may not even notice. “We’re always a step ahead, perceiving what our guests may need,” he explains. Furthermore, he maintains an ambiance of comfort and friendliness in the dining room so that his guests feel relaxed and at home. Excited to unleash approachable fine dining on Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, Maiorano seeks out individuals with equal enthusiasm to build a team with a familial bond, then empowers them towards greatness.
“We want everyone to feel like they’re at a dinner party,” he says. “For those who want to fully immerse themselves into a fine dining experience, we’re offering an escape—a time to enjoy tastes and smells in a beautiful environment with devoted people there to serve you.” With Kerney developing the tasting menu that allows local ingredients to tell their own stories, Maiorano shares his enthusiasm for wine by incorporating paired bottles at every price point from winemakers with intriguingly palatable narratives.
Maiorano grew up in the Chicago suburbs, inspired by his hardworking parents, and graduated from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2001 with a B.A. in American history. He held a series of odd jobs, including bartending and managing a kitchen, before he ultimately began a nearly decade-long career as a grain broker at the Chicago Board of Trade, at which he met his wife. Meanwhile, Maiorano’s taste for upscale dining ramped up as he ate out multiple times a week and developed an affinity for immersive, hours-long, multi-course dinners.
After the trading business went digital in 2010, Maiorano began hunting for a new line of work and decided to make the leap into the hospitality industry by joining his favorite restaurant, Wicker Park’s Schwa, as a partner. At the Michelin-star restaurant from chef Michael Carlson, Maiorano manages everything from inventory and payroll to management and customer relations, making an impact on nearly every aspect of the experience. As he continued to have a hand in running Schwa—at which he met current business partner, chef Matt Kerney—Maiorano’s family grew to include two young kids. To find a more ideal work-life balance, he shifted his time from the restaurant to his wealth management firm, National Securities, in 2015, but stayed deeply involved in the hospitality industry.
As he continued to run Schwa and National Securities, Maiorano continued dining at restaurants with multiple Michelin stars. When Maiorano got the itch to open another restaurant, he reached out to Kerney, who was serendipitously ready to branch out from his position as executive chef of Michelin-star restaurant Longman & Eagle. Together, they found the perfect Uptown space and, Maiorano jokes, "That's how we got into this mess." Thus, in 2018, Brass Duck Hospitality Group set to work on its first restaurant, Brass Heart.
Maiorano lives with his family in Glencoe, IL. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, going out to dinner with his wife, and spending time with his daughter Buffy, 7, and son Francis, 4.CLOSE
Matt Kerneyexecutive chef
Executive Chef and Partner Matt Kerney holds the unique experience of working in not one, but two Michelin-starred kitchens. The former “Iron Chef Showdown” contestant and 2015 Zagat “30 under 30” pick offers an approachable tasting menu restaurant, Brass Heart, alongside husband-and-wife partners Vincent Maiorano and Margaret Eisen Maiorano. Guided by Kerney’s curiosity and intuition, Brass Heart’s menu includes seasonally driven dishes with meats and produce Midwest-sourced and fresh seafood and live shellfish shipped in overnight. The restaurant, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, complements its refined menu with paired wines and signature cocktails.
Overall, Kerney delivers an experience marked by high-end service that leans towards comfort, not rigidity. "I’m crafting an evening in which the guest feels at ease, happy and excited—not intimidated—about what they're going to be eating," he says. "It’s completely immersive with service so smooth they're not even aware of it and food so good, they forget about the background noise in their lives."
The accomplished chef grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago with his mother and sister. At 15, he got a job at a local chain restaurant to save up money for a car. He started bussing tables and, before he knew it, wound up in the kitchen. Uncertain about where to take his future, Kerney briefly worked in I.T. and pursued computer programming before his mother provided some sage advice: “If you love cooking, then keep doing it.” Not needing to be told twice—"Cooking was the only thing that seemed worthwhile,” he explains—Kerney attended culinary school at Joliet Junior College, graduating in 2005. “I fell in love with the industry, too, the camaraderie and the way that everybody worked with each other,” he says.
Post-graduation, Chicago’s critically acclaimed old-school French restaurant, Ambria, provided Kerney an educational dive into the workings of a high-caliber kitchen and he stuck around until its closure in 2007. He then jetted off to Hawaii and spent a year cooking around Maui and enjoying the island lifestyle. A year later, however, Kerney yearned for the world-class dining scene of Chicago and returned by way of chef Michael Carlson’s Schwa in Wicker Park, which introduced him to Maiorano, a partner in the business who quickly became a fan of Kerney’s culinary chops.
At the acclaimed tasting menu restaurant, Kerney amplified his skillset as he worked alongside an intimate crew of cooks—and helped rake in a Michelin star. Mentored by Carlson, Kerney developed a formidable basis for his own culinary philosophies ad approaches, absorbing all the techniques and bits of wisdom he could, on topics ranging from seasoning to plating to flavor profiles, and beyond.
Leaving Schwa for Longman & Eagle, Kerney excelled in his chef de cuisine role and earned the executive chef title, spending four years enacting standards to maintain its Michelin star rating. The chef then departed Longman in early 2017 and took to consulting, which included helping the team behind music venue Schubas Tavern open Tied House restaurant. Eager to lead a new project of his own, Kerney joined the Maioranos to form Brass Duck Hospitality Group in 2018, and, after hunting for the perfect location, they discovered an ideal spot in Uptown and got to work opening Brass Heart.CLOSE
Tapping her attention to detail and sophisticated design talents, Managing Partner Margaret Eisen Maiorano leads upscale tasting menu restaurant Brass Heart in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood with her husband, Vincent Maiorano, and third partner, Executive Chef Matt Kerney. Eisen Maiorano applies a cool, neutral aesthetic to the dining room, creating a Chicago-meets-California-meets-NYC vibe that results in an earthy sophistication. With plenty of food to impress the palate, she ensures an equally inspiring visual experience with a friendly undertone. This includes decor details like photographs submitted by various local artists, which rotate every six months.
All about approachability, Brass Heart brings exceptional, high-end cuisine to a pleasant and relaxed environment, void of traditional fine dining pretensions. “I don’t want guests to feel like it’s a privilege to eat here—in fact, we’re the lucky ones to have them,” she explains, with similar feelings towards the talented individuals in the kitchen and working the dining room. “We’re equals, we all rely on each other—it’s more of a family than a group of employees.”
The Chicago-area native grew up just outside the city in the North Shore suburbs where she enjoyed spending time on Lake Michigan and making memories with her close-knit family. She played sports and developed friendships she cherishes to this day. The family traveled often, sometimes spending summers at their home in Montana. Although she ventured to Colorado for three years to attend Colorado State University, Chicago drew her back and she completed her degree—in public communications and business, with an art history minor—at DePaul University in 2006.
Working for her father, Eisen Maiorano spent 12 years at Chicago Board of Trade, at which she also met her husband. Since her and her father’s workdays ended in the early afternoon, they took advantage of their free time by rehabilitating high-end homes. She credits her family as integral in developing her character and work ethic. "My grandparents and parents were all self-employed and worked for everything they had," Eisen Maiorano says. "They were a huge influence on who I've become."
Interior design soon became more than just a hobby, and as she shared in her husband’s affinity for dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, she realized her business and visual design skills could come in handy developing a restaurant. Pulling together her lifelong love of the beach and spending time in nature, she joined forces with her husband and Kerney in 2018 to create a welcoming aesthetic for Brass Heart that evokes the naturalistic philosophies behind the restaurant’s thoughtful cuisine.
Eisen Maiorano and her husband currently live on Chicago’s North Shore with their two children, ages 4 and 7. When not at work, Eisen enjoys playing tennis, paddle boarding, visiting the lake with her family, and going to dinner with her husband. She also volunteers with no-kill animal shelter Orphans of the Storm and animal rescue Precious Pets Almost Home.CLOSE