Gianna (700 Magazine St., 504-399-0816), the Italian restaurant from the Link Restaurant Group, opens Saturday in the Warehouse District in a corner spot in the light-pink Kalorama condominium development.
The team behind the highly anticipated restaurant includes award-winning chefs from the Link group, Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, Rebecca Wilcomb, who is the is the executive chef, and Ryan Prewitt. Heather Lolley is the director of operations.
The restaurant is named for Wilcomb's grandmother, who is from the Veneto region of Italy. The menu is inspired by the rustic Italian cooking Wilcomb grew up eating as well as by dishes the team of chefs encountered while traveling in Italy in recent years of preparation.
The menu features antipasti plates, house-made pastas, house-cured meats, Gulf seafood and produce sourced from local farms. Antipasti items include eggplant caponata, tuna-stuffed peppers and mozzarella with crushed basil and chilies.
For smaller plates, there is Italian chopped meat salad, chicken stew with ham and olives over rice and lamb sausage gravy served over polenta. For pasta, there is tortelli in brodo, inspired by Wilcomb’s grandmother. During one trip to Italy, Wilcomb trained to make tortellini with women working at a pasta-making operation in Bologna. Other pasta dishes include campanelle with grilled greens, zucchini, black pepper and pecorino, ricotta lemon ravioli with roasted tomatoes, and rigatoni with swordfish, broccolini and olives.
For an entree, braised chicken is served with salami, olives and polenta. Roasted Gulf fish is served with chili and lemon. Slow-roasted pork shoulder is served with fennel and orange, and there's a Florentine-style porterhouse steak. The restaurant’s “feed me” option features several larger dishes served family-style. A small selection of contorni, or side dishes, includes broccoli with chilies and garlic, grilled radicchio with bagna cauda and house-made focaccia bread.
Link Restaurant Group pastry chef Maggie Scales is making desserts, which Wilcomb says are inspired by Italian sweets and confections.
The restaurant is anchored by a large zinc bar, where an aperitivo-inspired cocktail menu features vermouth and amari-based drinks. The Tulio is a twist on a Boulevardier made with bourbon, Campari and Cynar. Imported nonalcoholic sodas include the sweet-bitter drinks San Pellegrino Chinotto and Sanbitter. The wine list is predominantly Italian, and there are Italian domestic craft beers.
The large dining room seats 160 people and decor includes a 20-foot mural of an octopus and painted floor tiles. Dining room chairs are imported from Italy. In the rear of the restaurant, the kitchen is partially open to diners' views. It's outfitted with a wood-burning oven covered in black mosaic tiles. There is some outdoor seating along Girod Street.
Gianna will serve lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. For reservations, visit the website here.