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Not long after he was unceremoniously ousted from Teatro Goldoni earlier this year, Enzo Fargione vowed to open his own place, where he would focus almost exclusively on his multi-course tasting menu that had made Teatro a destination for many gastronomes. The chef even dropped the “K” word: He compared his upcoming endeavor to Komi, arguably the gold standard of tasting menu restaurants.
Fargione has made good on his word — to a point. He has just signed a letter of intent to open ELISIR at 427 11th St. NW in the same building at Central Michel Richard and Ten Penh. As promised Fargione will offer two different tasting menus — one with eight courses and another with 12-14 courses — but he’ll also provide a la carte options for dinner as well as a $15 bistro lunch.
The restaurant concept expanded and developed “because of the area, and it’s developed because of the economy,” Fargione tells Y&H. “I had to be completely honest with myself, with what I can and can’t do.”
The chef says he never wants to dictate to his customers. He says he doesn’t believe in the philosophy: “You eat the way I want or you don’t eat…I don’t think that’s a good way to do business these days.”
ELISIR, which is Italian for “elixir,” will be located in the space currently occupied by Via Cucina, which will vacate the spot soon. Fargione has hired the design and architecture firm, Grupo 7, to completely renovate the old space. It will be transformed into a 90-seat restaurant with a semi-open kitchen, a bar, a private dining room, and a wine cellar. Both the bar and private dining room will offer an additional 20-25 seats. The kitchen, incidentally, will also become something of a showcase for diners who want to watch the chef and his team work; it will feature HD cameras focused on work stations with feeds going to screens placed above the bar.
Fargione’s long-time companion, Julia Saah, who operates her own money management company, will run the financial side of ELISIR, the chef says. Fargione noted, with admirable understatement, that some chefs aren’t always so good with managing the financial side of restaurants.
The chef expects to re-introduce a number of modern Italian dishes that he made famous at Teatro, including his smoked branzino carpaccio and his tomato popsicles. He also wants to keep the prices down, or at least down for a restaurant devoted, in large part, to tasting menus. His eight-course menu will run about $75 per person, while the larger, 12-14 course menu will be around $100.
Fargione hopes to have ELISIR open by March of next year.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery