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Posted at 4:02 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Enzo Fargione finally signs a lease for ELISIR

By Tim Carman

Former Teatro Goldoni chef Enzo Fargione originally announced his ELISIR project in August, saying he had signed a letter of intent to open his own restaurant in the same downtown building as Central Michel Richard and Ten Penh. Four months later, Fargione has finally signed his lease.

The reason for the delay? The building's owners, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, had a lengthy review process for every change to the lease, even the most minute ones, Fargione explains.

"Each time we had a question, the contract had to go through six or seven layers of approval," the chef/owner says. "It was painful."

But with the lease now negotiated -- and TIAA is expected to sign it early next week -- Fargione can move ahead with the rest of his plans. The first order of business is to conduct a demolition of the current space at 427 11th St. NW, which was most recently occupied by Via Cucina. The demolition is necessary, Fargione says, because his architect and designer, Grupo 7, can't complete the mechanical/electrical/plumbing drawings until they get a better sense of what lay behind the drywall. Once that work is completed, they can finish the plans, start the permitting process, and begin construction.

Fargione foresees an early June opening of ELISIR, which is Italian for "elixir." The 90-seat restaurant will feature a semi-open kitchen, a wine cellar, and a bar and private dining room, which will add another 20-25 seats to the place. The chef says lunch will be an informal affair, more of a "lunch bistro," with checks averaging around $25. There will also be a bar menu for around $15 per person.

At night, Fargione says, ELISIR will "transform into a tasting menu restaurant," featuring a number of the modern Italian dishes that turned Teatro's chef table into a dining destination. The chef will offer two different tasting menus, one with eight courses for around $85 and another with 12 courses for about $115. The prices, he notes, are tentative. But Fargione will also offer a la carte options for those who prefer not to spend two hours over dinner.

"I want to make sure that I don't open with the label that I'm an expensive place," Fargione says, "because I will carry that label for the rest of the restaurant's life."

By Tim Carman  | December 22, 2010; 4:02 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Enzo Fargione, Teatro Goldoni, Tim Carman  
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