Finally former pop-up restaurant Eating House has opened its doors permanently with a a fresh new look, soon-to-come lunch service.
When Eating House closed in late September nobody anticipated a permanent return, not even owner and head chef Giorgio Rapicavoli. With a month to go to his 27 birthday (he's a Scorpio, ladies) Rapicavoli decided to give himself a splendid birthday gift and buy out Café Ponce. He also took a 20-day trip to Chicago and California in which all he did was eat. "This trip really influenced me in ways I have never been before. I'm really taking notice of molecular gastronomy. Done right it can be really sexy," says the chef.
He was able to get reservations (months in advance) at Grant Achatz's Alinea in Chicago, where he had the one dish that made the biggest impression of his whole trip: a razor clam. "It was hidden in this crazy concoction of seaweed and other creatures of the sea, but it was shining, almost talking, singing to me, and I listened." That's deep.
Eating House's opening was delayed due to the chef's I-do-whatever-the fuck-I-want-attitude and immaculate attention to detail and style, which goes perfectly with his camouflage cargo shorts and the knife tattoo on his ankle. Butthere's much to like in the new Eating House. Its new look resembles that of a street, one that's under construction, but with lots of promise. Ghost wood and muted gray walls with industrial lighting give the feel of a place that could very well have cows, pigs, or even a ram just outside waiting to be caught, cooked to order, and served for dinner - on handmade tables.
Yes, Rapicavoli has used his hands for something other than dicing tomatoes to make whipped gazpacho, which he's officially adding to the menu, and breaking eggs to make his pasta MY WAY carbonara. Handmade tables made his way add just another rustic touch to create the setting he and partner and long-time friend Alex Casanova are aiming to create for EH.
"One table top would cost us over 100 dollars each. We were able to make all the tables exactly how we want for $250," says front-of-house expert Alex Casanova.
"They're fucking edgy," adds Rapicavoli. He sounds sexy cursing while operating heavy machinery. "We're sticking to the same premise as when we popped up, just a bit refined. We still don't have expensive china or even plates that match."
Rock-like plates from Crate and Barrel will serve as the cold surface for raw and earthy food like tartars and his citrus tomato staple, while charcoal colored bowls and eggshell plates from Ikea give the chef ways to play around with colors like that of his green brussels sprouts and fried egg. "Food is still art, so we're still making graffiti. Now you'll just have tables and food made by me, and graffiti that's going up on the walls for good. No more of taking it down during the day shit." There he goes again.
The Eating House crew has also re-debuted their Wakin'-n-Bacon Sunday brunch. They're still bakin' (Captain Crunch pancakes, what else?), but will be opening for lunch service come the new year with a more casual, over the counter type service, and a different menu. "I want to do more grub food for lunch. Things you can eat with your hands. Going back to the roots is what it's all about." Expect to see different and more refined dishes from him, flavor-wise and texturally ... sexy. That's what his food will be like - sexy, just like him and his new Sous Chef Henry Hane.
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Former Señora Martinez Sous Chef, Hane has known Rapicavoli since cooking school. After Señora Martinez closed its doors, Hane left for Spain, but now he has now come back to the states to form part of the culinary team at Eating House. With Rapicavoli's Italian and Mediterranean influences and experience from working in Spanish restaurants and Hane's passion for Spanish food, it will be very interesting to see the things that the two of them will get their hands on.
Giorgio Rapicavoli: Chef or carpenter? A week ago as he sat on the floor surrounded by tools and a hammer, slicing wood, and not wearing his apron it was hard to tell. But yesterday wearing his Eating House is All 'Bout Trees shirt, chef apron, and sharpening his chef knife as he prepped for brunch service one thing became clear: Rapicavoli has built a house to eat and to last.
-- Carla Torres