The team behind Frasca Food & Wine has finally opened the doors on its latest project, Tavernetta.
The highly anticipated restaurant started serving this week at 1889 16th St., bringing flavors from every region of Italy to the platform at Union Station.
“We’re regional focused … and I think that was something that was welcome, something that I know was really important when we were starting to create the menu and test the menu. We just don’t want to put ourselves into one region, we wanted to go all over,” said general manager Justin Williams. “From the bread to the pasta — it’s really everything.”
Executive chef Ian Wortham, formerly the chef de cuisine at Frasca, traveled to Italy four times this year and has been reading up on the various styles of cuisine in order to build and, going forward, develop Tavernetta’s menu.
Some of the current dishes are recipes he brought directly back from Italy, while others have been inspired by his reading.
The acquasale, for example, is essentially a prettier take on a more rustic tomato, bread and olive oil dish from Tuscany, which he read about in a book on Tuscan food.
“The most interesting thing about cuisine like Italian cuisine is that there’s so much history and there’s a reason for things and you can learn about why people do a certain dish one way,” Wortham said. “Having that tradition behind it makes it easier to execute better food that’s just delicious to eat because you’re not worried about going off on little tangents with flavors. That, I think, is a really important thing when we’re talking about Italian food.”
While it’s not 100 percent seasonally driven, the menu will change a bit with the seasons as the currently fresh produce lets Wortham’s recipes wander from region to region.
“Tomatoes are in season — we can go more towards the south,” Williams said. “And we can go to the north in the winter.”
(Stray thought: I would go to Tavernetta just to sit there and eat the focaccia.)
The wine selection, chosen by wine director Carlin Karr, is of course entirely Italian. The bar program also includes traditional Italian cocktails like a bellini and a negroni in addition to Tavernetta’s take on Italian style.
They’ve also got champagne, which as Williams points out is “a huge part of Italian drinking culture.”
Perhaps surprisingly for a restaurant that sits just off the tracks at Union Station, Tavernetta has a lot of space. There’s a front-room bar area, a 12-seat private dining room, two main dining rooms and two small patios. There’s also a little space in the open kitchen — which connects the front room to the dining rooms — called Bobby’s Eddy, with two small tables stationed for a front-row view of the pasta-making.
Tavernetta is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Reservations are already filling up. You can make them online or call the restaurant at 720-605-1889.