Byline: Kristin Larson

If you like the art on display at Naha, sorry — it’s not for sale. That’s because, like a home, the pieces belong to the restaurant, says Michael Nahabedian, who recently opened the River North chic spot along with his cousin and chef Carrie Nahabedian. “People have asked if the art is for sale, and we say ‘no,”‘ he says, of the original work designed by artist, friend and Naha server Lora Fosberg.
That the eye-catching, neutral-colored canvases perfectly complement the understated, airy interior almost seems besides the point.
Rather, the idea seems more about creating a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere, which, at Naha, means the friends and family ties don’t stop with Michael and Carrie.
“When you work in such an intense environment, we want to see as many familiar, happy, smiling faces as possible,” says Carrie Nahabedian, whose impressive resume includes names like the Ritz-Carlton, Le Perroquet and the Four Seasons Hotel, where she served as executive chef for the Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara properties. “It’s truly a family restaurant.”
Indeed, Carrie’s two sisters, Cathy Miller and Chris LaForce, manage the restaurant’s accounting and reservations respectively. Michael’s brother Tom Nahabedian, a Beverly Hills designer, served as the architect and designer of the space that for years housed the legendary Gordon restaurant, which closed in December 1999.
Naha may be a family restaurant, but make no mistake: You won’t find any meatloaf-and-mashed potatoes here.
“The menu has a solid French base. It’s New American cuisine, influenced by the Mediterranean and simply presented,” says Carrie.
A sampling of the restaurant’s signature dishes, according to Carrie, are: the veal rib-eye steak with Potatoes ($29); the “herb-roasted striped bass,” ($25); and the duck breast with sides of braised red cabbage, swiss chard and young turnips,” ($27). 500 North Clark Street; call (312) 321-6242 for reservations.