Top 100 Independents: New Italian | Food Newsfeed
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Top 100 Independents: New Italian

June 27, 2018
Don Angie

Don Angie

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Ashley Sears
Don Angie

New York City

Established: October 2017

Chef/Partners: Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli

How they do it: The duo behind Don Angie believe they’ve broken the mold of traditional Italian-American cuisine. “We strive to re-create classic Italian-American cuisine in a new and exciting way, while still using familiar flavors, resulting in dishes that are both comforting and satisfying. We try to create a relaxed, inviting atmosphere that’s as comfortable as a neighborhood restaurant but also continues to surprise its guests with our refreshing approach to this cuisine.”

Steal it: Work hard and create delicious, interesting food that’s infused with passion.

Felix

Felix

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Wonho Frank Lee
Felix

Los Angeles

Established: April 2017

Owner: Janet Zuccarini

Chef: Evan Funke

How they do it: Success in found in three H’s at Felix—hyper-local, hyper-seasonal, and handmade. “Our glass-enclosed pasta lab, located in the center of our dining room, is a testament to the dedication and level of craftsmanship with which we approach our culinary philosophy,” says owner Janet Zuccarini. “To me, the term ‘New Italian’ is actually about a return to old world philosophies. It's about truly connecting with your food, whether that be through a new-found appreciation of farmers, sustainable food practices and systems or, of course, quality.”

Steal it: Tell a story, make it your own and make it compelling.

Monteverde

Monteverde

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Galdones Photography
Monteverde

Chicago

Established: November 2015

Owners: Meg Sahs and Sarah Grueneberg

Chef: Sarah Grueneberg

Pastry chef: Sara Lamb

How they do it: “We like to say we have a traditional heart with a modern hand,” says chef/owner Sarah Grueneberg. “We’re inspired by the people, culture and traditions of Italy while also incorporating other techniques and ingredients you may find outside of Italy. We focus on our ingredients and extracting the optimal flavor for a dish, whether its cooking or braising or simply dressing it with olive oil and putting on the grill.”

Steal it: Don’t just follow a trend—make sure you have a connection to it. Make sure it’s something special you believe it and want to have some fun with.

The Red Hen

The Red Hen

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Scott Suchman
The Red Hen

Washington, D.C.

Established: 2013

Owner: Mike Friedman and Mike O’Malley

Chef: Mike Friedman

Chef de Cuisine: Krystal Cripe

Pastry Chef: Marina McFarland

How they do it: It’s the business strategy behind the food at The Red Hen that’s driving success, says co-owner Mike Friedman. “We feel that being an independent restaurant is acknowledging that you have to be a good business person. The restaurant business is just that: a business. To survive, you must have a strong command of money, labor and product. You need to listen to your consumers and make sure you're pleasing them. At Red Hen, we strive to be consistently great across the board.”

Steal it: Listen to your employees, then listen to your guests. If your employees are engaged and you are driving a positive culture, that will transfer to the guest.

Spiaggia

Spiaggia

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Galdones Photography
Spiaggia

Chicago

Established: April 1984

Owner: Levy Restaurants

Chef: Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano, Executive Chef Joe Flamm

Pastry chef: Joey Schwab

How they do it: Modern, luxurious, and authentic were the intentions behind Spiaggia—not your Nonna’s cooking. “We traveled to Italy, worked in the finest restaurants like Dal Pescatore that helped us create Spiaggia,” says chef/partner Tony Mantuano. “Spiaggia was created to be more high-fashion, like the restaurants we saw in Milan or Verona. This style of Italian restaurant was very rare in America. One of the most important elements was directly importing that style, those flavors, that feeling of hospitality to Chicago. Hospitality is crucial, guests must feel like we are so happy to see them.”

Steal it: You exist because of your guests; it’s all about them. “Make them feel like you truly appreciate their visit. Make a memory, it lasts longer than anything else you will serve them.”

Masseria

Masseria

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Scott Suchman
Masseria

Washington, D.C.

Established: 2015

Chef/Owner: Nick Stefanelli

Pastry chef: Jemil Gadea

How they do it: When Nick Stefanelli opened Masseria, much of his inspiration came from his travels to Puglia. “I wanted this concept to mimic the masseria—agricultural estates whose residents worked the land, created their food and hosted visitors regularly. We strive to give our guests a unique dining experience that combines classic Italian technique with modern flavors and interpretations.”

Steal it: Follow your instincts.

Dante

Dante

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Dante
Dante

New York City

Established: 1915, reopened by current owners in 2015

Owners: Linden Pride and Naren Young

Chef: Rachel Polhill

How they do it: Under Rachael Polhill, Dante serves light and fresh Australian-Italian cuisine. It’s informed by the cultural melting pot of Australia—avocado toast with goat cheese, arugula and basil; baked eggs with Tuscan kale, pomodoro, dukkah and goat feta. Owner Linden Pride says Dante takes Italian cuisine back to what makes it special, “seasonally focused, ingredient-driven cuisine… Fresh, healthy, delicious food served family-style, in a modern setting.”

Steal it: Combine Italian vernacular with true local flavors and ingredients

Perbacco

Perbacco

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Perbacco
Perbacco

San Francisco

Established: 2006

Owners: Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje

Chef: Staffan Terje

How they do it: Owners Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje focus on Piemontese cuisine at Perbacco, but some things stray outside tradition. “For example, many new restaurants are using double zero flour, but Staffan believes it is too fine and that the rougher flour gives more texture and is better suited to their pastas,” Gibin says.

Steal it: Make it an experience guests cannot get at home—from food, to wine, to service.

Ava Gene’s

Ava Gene’s

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Cheryl Juetten
Ava Gene’s

Portland, Oregon

Established: 2013

Owner: Submarine Hospitality (Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirks)

Chef: Joshua McFadden

Pastry chef: Nora Antene

How they do it: Walking the fine line of New Italian well, Ava Gene’s adheres to the Italian philosophies of sourcing, seasonality and the table, but also creates its own traditions. “Honoring and understanding tradition, while pushing the concept forward by creating dishes and an experience—that excites guests today,” says chef/owner Joshua McFadden. “Hospitality is in the details, from the warm greeting received at the front door, to the scent of the soap in the restrooms to the knowledge and attention of your server.”

Steal it: Understand tradition to create something new.

Maestoso

Maestoso

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Maestoso
Maestoso

San Diego

Established: 2018

Owners: Marco Maestoso and Dalila Ercolani

Chef: Marco Maestoso

How they do it: Guests at Maestoso get a lot of interaction with the chefs, says owner Dalila Ercolani. They can sit at the chef’s counter to make the most of the experience. “We strive to bring a whole new dining experience to San Diego and to each and every one of our guests,” Ercolani says. “It’s modern Italian food like you've never seen it before.”

Steal it: Buy top quality ingredients and give them an experience that is as close as possible to Italy itself.

Next: Street to Table

Street to Table

11 of 11
Ani Pendergast
Street to Table