Alex Dana

Alex Dana, founder of Rosebud Restaurant Group. Photo by Influx Consultants

It all started on Grand and Ogden, where popular restaurateur Alex Dana grew up working in a restaurant with his father. As a child, he learned the ins and outs of running a restaurant. If the dishwasher broke, he knew how to fix it. If the butcher was late, Dana and his father could do it.

In his late 20s, Dana purchased his first restaurant on Washington and Wacker. After operating the space as a one-man show, he began to create deep and powerful connections throughout the city. He soon opened up his very first Rosebud location on the iconic Taylor Street, the start of what would eventually become an empire: Alex Dana’s Rosebud Restaurant Group.

He vividly recalls the first time he realized he was succeeding. He was walking out of the kitchen on a Saturday aft ernoon wearing his apron. He had spent the morning answering phones, preparing baked clams and taking down reservations, all at the same time. When the hostess came in, he had phone numbers and names on scraps of paper, his arms and anywhere else he’d found a surface to write on.

Today, Rosebud Restaurants operate nine restaurants including two steakhouses and seven “white tablecloth” Italian concepts. From Carmine’s to Rosebud on Rush, Rosebud Prime to the Rosebud Steakhouse, the Rosebud name has expanded to the suburbs and beyond with a new flagship location opening soon on Michigan Avenue and, later this year, on Randolph Street.

“To me, building on Randolph is like building the Colosseum in Rome,” Dana said.

With nearly 50 years in the industry, Dana’s Rosebud menu can be described as elevated classic dishes with a touch of Italian peasant fl air. He calls it “getting back to the red sauce.” It’s a basic style of cooking using only the highest-quality ingredients.

His favorite menu item? Square noodles with red sauce. Enjoy his recipe below:

Homemade Pappardelle & Red Sauce


INGREDIENTS (for 3 people)

4 free range eggs (room temperature)

400g/14.10oz tipo 00 or plain/all-purpose flour


Wooden bench, Fork, Rolling pin OR pasta machine, Knife


  1. Homemade pappardelle pasta dough starts with good quality flour. Measure up to 100g/3.5oz per person and include one egg each.

  2. Create a mound of flour on your bench, adding some extra to the side to use while you knead.

  3. Then, make a well in the middle, and crack the eggs into it, before whisking together using a fork or mixing with your hands.

  4. Slowly drop in the flour from the sides of the well, mixing it through and being careful not to let any of the egg escape.

  5. Once the egg is mixed in with the flour, you can use a fork to drag any excess from your board back into the dough before starting to mix it together with your hands.

  6. Press down and forward with the palm of your hands, then fold back in and repeat.

  7. If you find the pappardelle pasta dough is too dry, wet your hands with some water and then continue to knead – don’t add water to the dough itself, it shouldn’t need it! If the dough is too wet, gradually add flour and keep mixing.

  8. Knead the egg pasta dough for around 10 minutes or until it smooths out and softens in consistency.

  9. Create a ball with your homemade pappardelle pasta dough and cover it tightly with cling wrap or a bowl then leave to rest for 10-20 minutes.

  10. After your pasta dough has rested, check that it is soft and smooth then cut a nice thick piece, sprinkle flour on the top and bottom and press down with your fingers slightly flattening it.

Red Sauce 


1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL

3 cloves garlic minced

5 fresh tomatoes 1 to 1.5 lbs, diced

2 Tbsp fresh basil finely chopped

1 Tbsp honey 15 g

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 sprigs of parsley


  1. Cook tomatoes: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and allow to simmer uncovered until tomatoes have mostly broken down, about 25 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

  2. Herbs: Stir in basil, salt, pepper, and parsley (stem and leaves intact). Continue simmering about 10 minutes.

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