Celebrity Chef Serving Up Italian Food with a Twist in Forest Hills
QUEENS — A restaurant owned by a celebrity chef from the Food Network show "Chopped," is about to open in Forest Hills, offering Italian comfort food in an "old school" setting with a twist, the owner said.
Jason Zukas said he is currently finalizing two menus for Tazzina, one of which will be for the bar and the other one for the restaurant.
“It’s going to be very romantic, chic and definitely very sexy,” he said about the restaurant. "But it will also have an old school feel."
Zukas, who first opened Tazzina in 2011 in Glendale, last year decided to move it to Metropolitan Avenue, near Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen, the only restaurant in Queens to receive a star in the 2014 Michelin Guide.
Zukas said the previous location had only about 30 seats and could not fit all his customers.
The new eatery will have more than 50 seats and 15 additional patrons will be able to sit at the bar, he said. Next year, Zukas is planning to open a back patio.
Zukas, of Glendale, who appeared on "Chopped" during three seasons and worked at Ouest, La Bottega and Blue Water Grill, was initially planning to open the Forest Hills location by the end of last year. But the process took much longer than expected, he said.
He said he has a strong emotional connection to the new location and used dine there with his parents as a child, when the restaurant was called Tutto Bene. One of his "Chopped" episodes was also filmed there when eatery was called La Bocca Fina.
He said he decided to overhaul decor, which will be a combination of classic and modern style.
The walls will be red, he said, except for one that is exposed brick. Among the decorations will be a mirror from the '40s, which belonged to his grandmother, and a large industrial chandelier, which is currently being custom-made by Michael McHale Designs.
The restaurant menu will feature several classic dishes with twist, he said, including gnocchi, mussels, several varieties of pastas, risottos, steaks and seasonal fish.
But the eatery will also serve roasted bone marrow, chicken under a brick, tripe, charred grilled octopus and branzino.
The bar menu will consist mostly of small plates, and will include meatball parmigiana sliders, olives and cheese, carbonara deviled eggs and mini rice balls staffed with bone marrow.
The chef promises affordable prices starting at around $15 for pasta dishes.
Zukas said that the restauant will serve primarily Italian and American wines. Among more than 50 varieties, which will start at about $20 a bottle, there will also be more expensive items, including red Dominus ($375).
The restaurant, he said, also hired a mixologist, Nicole Osorio, who will serve new versions of classic coctails, including the Godfather, which will consist of bourbon, lime, galliano, amaretto and orange peel.
Zukas, who is planning live entertainment every Wednesday night, said he expects to open the restaurant no later than in early August.