Toscana Divino Chef Julian Baker Out, Menu Changes In

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Toscana Divino and former executive chef Julian Baker are parting ways. 

Baker, who helped open the regional Italian eatery in the heart of Mary Brickell Village in 2012, will depart for Houston where he says he has another Italian concept in the works. 

"It will be a little more social, obviously with my food, but in a more casual environment," the Englishman says.

He lived in Houston (and his girlfriend still does) before his move to Miami. On recent visits back he said he linked up with investors from the oil and gas industry who are backing the new project. The split from Toscana was amicable.

"I was a partner there, and we're still friends now," he added.

Baker and Toscana joined the Brickell fray as construction again began ramping up and a new influx of restaurants joined the fray. While Toscana specialized in the fare of Tuscany it was Baker's pastas — like bouncy spears of pici in lamb ragu and and pappardelle woven around nubs of fennel-flecked sausage — that helped it stand out. Baker threw down a dinner for Miami underground dining club Cobaya back in February 2014 offering dishes like charred beef tendon, grilled hamachi collar, and a so-called carbonara based not on pasta but a yucca root dyed with squid ink.

Baker's shoes will be filled by Billy Devlin, his sous chef who's been overseeing Toscana as Baker transitions out. Devlin will also oversee the company's Ironside Pizza a bit west of Biscayne Boulevard past the MiMo district.

The plan is to tweak the menu at Toscana, he said, and work has already begun.

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