Toscana has been pleasing Ridgefield restaurant-goers for seven years, and now owner Rafael Gallo plans to expand his culinary reach to Manhattan.
Within three months the Italian chef/owner will open a small restaurant at 61st Street and 1st Avenue in a location he ran a decade ago. The space's renovation is now underway.
Though it seems a bad time to be opening a new restaurant—with the economy still struggling and folks trying to save rather than spend—Gallo does not seem worried.
"It's only 45 seats," he said confidently and casually, comparing the space to Toscana's 167 chairs plus a bar and exposed, state-of-the-art kitchen.
Gallo, a native of Capri, Italy, is partner in another restaurant as well—Cambridge, Mass.'s Gran Gusto. His partners in that establishment will assist him in New York. Gallo is the sole owner of the Ridgefield location.
The new location in New York will be called Tiella, which is Italian for 'pan.' Its cuisine will be like that at Toscana and Gran Gusto—regional southern Italian cuisine—including Ridgefield favorites such as the butternut squash ravioli, risottos made with mouth-watering ingredients like white truffles, and seafood dishes like lobster and calamari.
Gallo said he expects to see some familiar faces in the New York City location, since his customers are very supportive and many work in the city or visit often.
"I love the people here," he said of Ridgefield residents.
Gallo shooed away a question about being nervous about Tiella's opening.
"We are very excited to open this new location," he said. The nerves usually associated with such an undertaking, especially in such an exacting market as Manhattan, don't even seem to enter the picture. The calm, cool Gallo, looking at home in his starched white chef jacket and hat, seems to know enough about restaurants to know he can give people what they want.
"Piece of cake," he said. "We are very comfortable and we are going to try and make people happy. We are from Italy," he said of himself and his partners. "That's what we do."