Note: Have tips about NYC Italian food and drink news? Send ’em my way at Richard@appetitomagazine.com.
A Slice Shop Grows in… Omaha?
One of New York City’s most valuable exports at the moment is Italian restaurants. Outposts of upscale Italian dining standouts from Manhattan such as Carbone, Marea, and Rao’s are replicating in tourism destinations and culinary hot spots like Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles with increasing frequency.
The latest location of Williamsburg Pizza, a slice joint with five NYC locations, is joining the trend—albeit in Omaha, Nebraska. While the city is known for its steaks and small but mighty indie rock scene (it’s the birthplace of the band Bright Eyes and Saddle Creek Records), it’s not usually a candidate for ritzy expansions of NYC’s finest Italian restaurants—or even its slice joints.
In this case, owner Aaron McCann happens to be from Omaha, hence the Williamsburg Pizza in a place known as “The Gateway To The West.” A representative for Williamsburg Pizza confirms that the opening in Omaha is set for May 30.
The pizzeria became a leader in Williamsburg’s pizza scene when it opened in 2012, with head chef and co-owner Nino Coniglio creating pies that attracted the then up-and-coming neighborhood’s late-night partiers as well as pizza aficionados. The company sources artisanal ingredients from independent Brooklyn distributors such as Pecoraro Cheese.
McCann and Coniglio went on to open locations in Manhattan on the Lower East Side and Upper East Side, with additional Brooklyn shops in Crown Heights and Bushwick.
The latest addition to the Williamsburg Pizza family is receiving backing from a lead franchisee and investor, Matt Hodges, who operates 37 Jimmy John’s pizza storefronts in five states, according to a release, which also promises menu items exclusive to Omaha.
An “Italian Holiday Bar” Is Now Open In Manhattan
The team behind Cucina Alba has opened a new “Italian Holiday Bar” meant to evoke breezy vacations on the Amalfi Coast. Prince Street Hospitality and head chef Adam Leonti are behind Accanta Alba at 141 10th Ave., next door to the acclaimed Italian restaurant near the High Line in Chelsea.
The bright, colorful Mediterranean décor and a drinks menu heavy on the spritzes make this an ideal spot for gathering with friends Italian-style. Menu items include lots of shareables, from fried calamari to steak carpaccio to focaccia with toppings including truffle and prosciutto.
Prince Street Hospitality co-founders Cobi Levy and Will Makris have a flair for combining Mediterranean food and drink with memorable settings at places like Lola Taverna (Greek), Little Prince (French), and now Cucina Alba and Accanta Albo.
A Los Angeles Italian Grocer and Pasta Shop Is Coming To NYC
Pasta Corner has found a new corner in Manhattan, following acclaim for its West Hollywood location at the Original Farmers Market in LA. The company announced a June opening for its Midtown grocery and pasta restaurant at 9 E. 53rd St.
Co-founded by two Frenchmen, chef/restaurateur Vincent Benoliel and recording artist Matt Pokora, Pasta Bar offers fresh pasta dishes served in-house, and fresh pasta and other Italian provisions for sale in an alimentari-like setting.
Pokora, whose wife is actress and singer Christina Milian, and Benoliel, who is also behind French bakery Michelina, also in the Original Farmers Market, have created a buzzy brand in Pasta Bar. The company’s mission, as stated on its website, is “to be the first of its kind, a fast-fine dining and fine foods market establishment.”
Michelin Recognition For Italian Restaurants in NYC
This week, the restaurant inspectors at Michelin announced new additions to their NYC guide, and several prominent Italian restaurants made the cut. The new additions from Manhattan are Foul Witch, from the team behind Roberta’s and Blanca; and Jupiter, the new Rockefeller Center destination from the chef-restaurateurs at King. (The Jupiter team shared their Pork Meatball Spiedini recipe with Appetito just last month.) In Brooklyn, the South Slope neighborhood restaurant Flora also receives a spot in the Michelin Guide.
Of course, this recognition isn’t the same as earning Michelin stars, but it’s surely a step in the right direction for future appreciation from the inspectors.
NYC’s Hospitality Conference Re-Ups in Chicago
The Welcome Conference, co-founded in 2014 by NYC restaurateur Will Guidera, has announced dates for its 2023 Chicago event. The all-day conference will take place June 26 at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, hosted by well-known Chicago restaurateurs Kevin Boehm and Donnie Madia. Food TV personality Alpina Singh and chef/restaurateur Erick Williams will co-host. Tickets are available here.
The hospitality-themed keynote addresses and panel discussions have attracted top chefs, restaurateurs, and other industry figures to its NYC Welcome Conferences, which expanded to Chicago in 2019.
This year’s lineup features headliner Chris Storer, the writer who created “The Bear,” about a fine-dining chef who comes home to run a Chicago storefront beloved for its Italian beef sandwiches. Not coincidentally, the second season of the hit show premieres on FX and Hulu on June 23. Watch the Season 2 trailer below: