The good news of Spinasse's expansion broke earlier this year. Chef Jason Stratton, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2010, would be doubling the seating of the current dining room, but more than that: He promised that the marble counter I so adore dining at would extend into the new space. And that they'll be adding a new pasta production room. And that they'll be making pasta at night, said Stratton, "so people have that visual connection to the craft." Stratton told me he's reluctant to commit to an opening date, but he's hoping for the last week of May.
And then there's the news about Artusi, the Italian aperitivo bar that will live on the corner of 14th and Pine. Stratton says Artusi's bar program, "is an extension of what we do at Spinasse, focusing on vermut, amari and grappe, a small cocktail list and a few beers on tap and by the bottle. We are reaching beyond Piedmont with our winelist, highlighting lesser known varietals-- cannonau from Sardegna, Grillo from Sicily, Lacrima di Morro d'Alba from the Marches and the Friullian Ribolla Gialla." There'll be a horseshoe-shaped bar where diners will sit and interact with the cooks working the small kitchen. "Think sushi bar," he said.
Stratton even threw in a few teasers: Artusi menu items like truffles stewed with cinnamon, coriander, ginger and verjus over soft polenta; braised, chilled pig ear salad with cherry bomb chilis, mint and anchovy; and shaved white mushrooms and egg with Salsa Apicius (an ancient sauce made from pepper, lovage, pinenuts, honey, vinegar and liquemen, (essentially fish sauce).
Look for Artusi a week or so later than the expanded Spinasse, so realistically, early- to mid-June.