Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker and chef Alex Stratta is making a fresh start with a new restaurant: Bigoli. Stratta, a Top Chef Masters alum and executive chef of the now-closed Five-Star Alex restaurant in Las Vegas, is teaming up with partners Brad Nagy and Angelo Viscoso and chef de cuisine Joe Swan to open the eatery in New York’s Greenwich Village. We chatted with chef Stratta about his latest venture:
Q: We haven’t heard much of this restaurant until the other day. Were you trying to keep this under wraps until it opened?
A: Not particularly. It was something we were working on and it happened very, very quickly. I was trying to give the restaurant business a bit of a break, but I got the opportunity to do consulting and just to help out. Next thing you know, I’m more involved with it and The New York Times finds out about it…and then it’s been kind of a rollercoaster for a couple of days in the sense that expectations are pretty substantial. We all agreed to come in nice and quiet and slow — but it got people’s interest, so here I am.
Q: What is the overall concept of Bigoli?
A: [Brad Nagy and Angelo Viscoso] are from Westchester County, New York, and have a pizza restaurant called Frankie & Fanucci’s. They took over the space and were going to make it into a pizza place, so they built a beautiful big pizza oven. I saw the place and said it was way too nice to be a pizza joint. So I said, why don’t we do something that isn’t done often: cook old-style and traditional, and cook everything in the wood-burning oven — the roast, the fish, the vegetables. Then we just proceeded to develop a menu that was very pasta-heavy, because Bigoli is a type of regional pasta that’s made with buckwheat flour. It’s going to be Italian — strong Italian — but regional and simple and straightforward. I don’t want to do fancy stuff anymore.
Q: What will the menu be like?
A: What we’ve designed on the menu is a bit of a hybrid of the a la carte. It seems like more and more people are picking and choosing what they want to eat, so I decided to do pasta straightforward. And then the main courses, you get to choose. Instead of having composed dishes, we’ll have the base main course, like a pork chop or veal chop, and then you get to choose your components. But it’s not like a la carte in the sense that it doesn’t cost any more; it’s just, here’s the dish and choose two sides and you can create it yourself.
Q: What is the interior design like?
A: It’s urban, simple. [There will be] wood chairs, and we took a bunch of different types of broken marble and made a nice marble and stone floor. [You’ll also see] dark woods, dark leather, nice pastels, very subtle pastel upholstery and striped carpet in the back. The place looks like it could be at any level of dining. It’s beautiful. It’s got a nice entrance and open kitchen. It’s got this beautiful wood oven that’s decked out with broken pieces of tile. I’m very, very curious as to how it’s going to feel when there are people in it.
Q: Are you relocating to New York?
A: No. I’m going to be staying in Las Vegas. I have my children there and I’m planning on doing some more stuff in Vegas, so this is kind of a small thing I was going to do that snowballed into something larger and I’m super excited about it. I love New York and I’m certainly coming into New York with a level of humility. It’s a tough town.
Chef Stratta says he plans on doing two stints a month at the restaurant, so you might just see him if you visit. Bigoli, located at 140 West 13th St., is set to open by November 29th.
Photo Courtesy of Bravo