WEST VILLAGE — An Italian family is opening a new restaurant on Eighth Avenue that will serve authentic "piadina," the owner said.
Piadina is an Italian flatbread that hails from Rimini, the same Italian town where film director Federico Fellini was born, owner Alessandra Pasqualini explained.
Pasqualini said she has already gotten approval from the Food and Drug Administration to import the special type of flour from that region so she can make truly authentic, artisanal Italian piadina. The restaurant, Farina, is named for the flour, she said.
Along with the special flour, Pasqualini hopes to "import a different way" of having the last meal of the day, by serving light food and encouraging a relaxed atmosphere where friends can meet after work to unwind.
"It's a very easy way of eating and being with friends," she said. "Like we do in Italy."
Pasqualini said piadina is usually eaten with white wine, which is why she is applying for a wine and beer license.
She received unanimous support from Community Board 2 for her license application, though she was asked to promise to never apply for a full liquor license to assuage neighbors' concerns that it would open the door for more bars on the block where there used to be a diverse array of shops.
The block has many vacant storefronts, left behind by tenants squeezed out by rising rents. Neighbors at the CB 2 liquor license meeting lamented the recent losses of the House of Cards & Curiosities and Chocolate Bar, a coffee shop frequented by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his death.
Pasqualini agreed to stick to wine and beer, and said she plans to keep the restaurant at 15 Eighth Ave. small, anyway — though the building, situated next to Left Bank Books, is the biggest on the block. The structure dates back to 1845, but was redesigned, with city approval, in 2014.
Though the storefront was most recently occupied by a barbershop, it was most noticeable for the stained glass signage left behind by a shoe store long before. The new building's owners concealed the sign in their renovation, though promised the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission that they would not remove it entirely.
Pasqualini said the bread will be served with cured meats such as salami and bologna but the menu won't have any large cooked meals. She'll also offer it with Nutella for dessert.
The type of food would normally be considered an "aperitif," Pasqualini said, something to have before eating an actual dinner. But she said in Italy, "we hardly ever have dinner."
Pasqualini said she hopes to have the restaurant open for business in September.
She and her family currently live in Italy, and she said she has no plans to move permanently to New York City, though she's open to it.
"Maybe," she said, looking at her 14-year-old daughter, Sophia. "If she wants to."
Sophia nodded vigorously in return and replied, "I want to!"