Francesco Panella Opens Feroce Ristorante in Chelsea
On Friday, March 8, Francesco Panella, the famed international restaurateur behind the legendary Antica Pesa, opened Feroce Caffè, Feroce Ristorante, and Bar Feroce, in partnership with TAO Group at Moxy Chelsea. Bringing unparalleled regional Italian cuisine to Manhattan’s historic Flower District, Feroce transports guests to Panella’s home country while simultaneously embracing New York’s ever-evolving culinary landscape. Designed by Rockwell Group, the culinary concepts within Moxy Chelsea are distinctively different, with each space embracing Italy’s dynamic flavors and captivating culture.
“At Feroce, we aim to expand the understanding and appreciation of cuisine from the entire country of Italy, while providing guests with an unforgettable meal in an environment that makes them feel like family,” says Panella. “We’re honored to partner with TAO Group on this project, and look forward to telling Italy’s most flavorful stories.”
Housed on the ground level of the hotel, Feroce Caffè draws inspiration from traditional Italian coffee culture, powering guests from early until late. Upon entry, the lattice-patterned parquet floors and vaulted terracotta ceilings elicit classical Roman provenance. Much like the caffè’s culinary program, these elements are juxtaposed by more modern-leaning elements including a bright emerald green 21-seat bar topped with white marble counters and stone backsplashes accompanied by clean brass accents.
The caffè, with table seating or on-the-go options, welcomes guests with morning pastries including Torta Della Nonna, Macedonia Frutta, and Cannolo Siciliano. Just behind the pastry display is a custom-built doughnut machine serving traditional doughnuts, in plain sight of the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling front windows. The caffè’s coffee program celebrates Italian mainstays like Espresso, Cappuccino, Americano, and Lattes.
As morning transitions into afternoon, guests can enjoy sandwiches served like Focaccia Ripiena, Cornetto Prosciutto and Pravola, and Pizzeta Bianca. In the evening hours, the bustling energy from Feroce Ristorante trickles into the caffè where guests are welcomed to order from the ristorante’s full food and drink menu at the bar.
Nestled behind Feroce Caffè lies Feroce Ristorante, Panella’s celebration of Italian gastronomy, dressed in luscious palettes of jewel tones and cognac. Equipped to seat 132-guests, the ristorante is filled with intimate round booths and striped leather banquettes, which take inspiration from the upholstery of vintage Ferraris. The ristorante includes a private dining room that transports guests to 20th century Milan and Rome, as well as a terrace with indoor/ outdoor seating shaded by a living wall.
Featuring both classic Italian dishes and modern interpretations, Feroce Ristorante’s culinary philosophy is dedicated to the founding principles of Italian cuisine: that ingredients should be sourced locally and at the peak of their season. Keeping true to tradition, Panella imports ingredients from historic brands and small producers from across Italy, and works with local purveyors in New York to source fresh produce. The menu celebrates the country’s vast terrain and characteristic regions and is organized by antipasti, per la tavola, pasta, secondi, contorini, and dolci. Menu highlights include: Gnocco Fritto served with deep fried dough from Emilia Romagna, cured meats, and a cloud of 12-months aged Parmigiano Reggiano; Pacchero al Pomodoro served with red Piennolo tomatoes that are grown in mineral-rich soil near Mt. Vesuvius, garlic, and fresh organic basil; and Pesce Spada in Vasocottura an ancient cooking method where swordfish is cooked in a jar with cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, capers, taggiasca olives and broth.
Along with the cocktail program also offered at Bar Feroce, Feroce Ristorante has built an extensive collection of Italian aperitifs, digestifs and a diverse wine list, highlighting the country’s most interesting regions like Campania and Veneto. The ristorante boasts a list of over 50 varieties of Grappa and Amaros, many of which are offered by the glass or in tastings of three or six. A rare collection of premium vintage grappas includes Sangello Fior d’Erba 5 Terre (90’s), Amaro del Piave (80’s), and Wunderbar Amaro (80’s).
Furthermore, Feroce's staff prides itself on transporting the authentically warm and welcoming hospitality of Italy to New York. The ristorante strategically partnered with Brooks Brothers, the iconic NYC brand, to create custom-designed uniforms for the wait staff. Service elements that emulate the flourishing marketplaces rooted in Italian culture include interactive components like customized carts with tableside selections of grappa and sgroppino.
Located on the second floor and intertwined within Moxy Chelsea’s floral-inspired gathering and meeting spaces sits Panella and TAO Group’s third concept, Bar Feroce. The lounge has a 9-seat bar, grouped seating areas with plush pillows and hanging swings, inviting guests to socialize over classic cocktails and Italian comfort foods with a sophisticated twist. The more casual setting is equipped with an intimate all-season terrace, Bar Feroce’s Backyard, towards the back of the space which includes a made-for-Moxy bocce drinking game. A custom-built terra cotta pizza oven serves Roman-style pies, perfect for guests engaging on the outdoor terrace or those co-working in the sun-lit lobby.
The shareable menu, organized by fritti, pizza, crostoni, and dolci features items like: Supplì, rice croquettes filled with mozzarella and tomato and served with specialty sauces; Carbonara Crostone, crispy bread topped with Pecorino Romano, imported guanciale and a hen’s egg; Amatriciana Pizza, made with Piennolo tomatoes, guanciale, Pecorino Romano, and fresh chili; followed by dolci choices of Tiramisù and Crostata.
Bar Feroce’s beverage program features an array of specialty cocktails, variations of negronis and spritzes, a 300-bottle wine selection, housemade limoncello, and imported Italian beers. The bar’s signature cocktails are inventively named with tongue in cheek nods to iconic Italian cultural moments and sayings like the Tuca Tuca served with Bulleit Bourbon, Branca Menta, fig jam, Demerara Nectar, Dry Vermouth and black walnut bitters; and Bacio a Mezzonotte served with Tito’s Vodka, Brugal Rum, Beefeter Gin, Triple Sec, lemon sherbet, pasteurized egg whites, Pepsi, and lemon.