Exciting news! Recent rumors seemed too good to be true, but I just got the press release and it's not April Fool's: Isaac Becker and wife, Nancy St. Pierre are partnering with Josh Thoma to open a restaurant in the former home of Babalu. 112 + LBV = We Can't Wait!! Here's what they
have to say about it:
Restaurant Powerhouses Team up to Create Bar La Grassa New Restaurant to Open in Former Babalu Space Late Summer
Minneapolis (April 29, 2009) -Isaac Becker and wife, Nancy St. Pierre of 112 Eatery fame are teaming up with Josh Thoma, owner of Barrio, La Belle Vie, Solera and Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque to create Bar La Grassa. The casual, neighborhood-style restaurant will feature authentic Italian pastas and is scheduled to open in August in the former Babalu space at 800 Washington Ave. N. in Minneapolis.
Becker and St. Pierre have been friends with Thoma for more than a decade when they all first met while working at D'Amico Cucina in the early '90s.
"We've always supported each other's efforts," said Thoma, "But this is the first opportunity we've had to actually work on a project together. We're having a lot of fun with it. Our hope is that it will become a favorite neighborhood hangout as well as a destination for downtown diners."
Chef Becker is creating the menu and recently returned from a trip to Bologna where he was sourcing ingredients. "Literally translated, 'La Grassa' means 'the fat,' and is the nickname for the Bologna region of Italy which is the country's gastronomic center," explained Becker in regard to the restaurant's name. "The idea is for the menu to emphasize well-executed, authentic Italian cuisine," continued Becker. "At the same time it will be affordable and approachable like it is at 112 Eatery. So if you want a simple inexpensive meal you can, and if you want to be a bit more extravagant you'll have those options, too."
La Grassa's menu will feature a combination of ten fresh and ten dry pastas with options for large or small portions. Prices for the smaller portions will range between $8 and $9, with larger portions priced between $16 and $18. Along with a fully stocked bar, Bar La Grassa will feature an ever-changing selection of wines imported from Italy served by the glass or carafe.
Along with Becker, St. Pierre and Thoma, the two other partners in the project are Ryan Burnet and Tim Rooney who served as the catalysts behind Barrio Minneapolis and the soon-to-open Barrio in St. Paul's lower town. Burnet and Rooney have been closely involved in every aspect of the new restaurant.
Rooney's company, Metropolitan Development is working with ESG Architects on transforming the former Babalu space. The design calls for the restaurant to have an intimate feel using plenty of raw woods, wrought iron and exposed brick and will seat up to 150. The redesigned interior will scale down Babalu's large open dining area and offer three different experiences: a rustic grotto bar, a dining room featuring seating overlooking an open kitchen, where diners will be able to watch the chefs at work and a private dining room.