Mary Mastricola has announced La Petite Folie, the French restaurant she has run with her husband, Mike, in the Hyde Park Shopping Center since 1999, will close Dec. 23.
Mastricola, in a brief interview, expressed her gratitude to the University of Chicago, which owns the shopping center, and the greater Hyde Park community for their years of support. She has no plans to continue catering anytime soon.
With silver flatware, an all-French wine list and a seasonal menu rooted in nouvelle cuisine — the approach that emphasized regionality and fresh ingredients and dispelled heavy sauces and fussy preparation that revolutionized French cooking in the 1970s — La Petite Folie, 1504 E. 55th St., carried a torch for fine dining in Hyde Park before other local options opened in the last decade.
Described by the owners as "a love letter to the classic food and wines of France," the eatery was opened 23 years ago after Mike and Mary Mastricola — who first met as students at the U. of C. —returned to Hyde Park from years of living abroad in France. While overseas, Mary Mastricola studied French cooking, earning a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, and Mike explored the country's history and wine.
Over the years the restaurant had a popular 5 p.m. dinner for customers ahead of performances at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. It won the Michelin Bib Gourmand award, for restaurants serving quality, three-course meals at a good price, for several years and was listed in the Zagat Survey.
Mastricola released her restaurant’s final menu on Dec. 8, which features an Alsatian onion tart ($10), salmon rillettes ($13), shrimp Creole ($32), coq au vin ($28), carbonade flamande ($28), chocolate-hazelnut torte ($10) and profiteroles ($10). La Petite Folie is only serving customers with reservations through its closing.
The announcement follows those announcing the closures of other longstanding Hyde Park restaurants like the Bonjour Bakery Cafe, 1550 E. 55th St. and Piccolo Mondo, 1642 E. 56th St., which served its last meals on Nov. 28.