Coming soon to Grand Avenue: Hyacinth, and a taste of southern Italy

Golden Fig's old home on Grand Ave. just wasn't big enough for 'em!

Golden Fig's old home on Grand Ave. just wasn't big enough for 'em! Facebook: Golden Fig

In January, Golden Fig moved out of their home on Grand Avenue to take over a much bigger space -- twice as big, actually.

It left their smaller shop at 790 Grand Ave. in St. Paul sitting empty, though it won't be for long. Within a few months, NYC-based chef and Twin Cities native Rikki Giambruno will return home to open Hyacinth in the space, the Growler reported earlier this week.

Giambruno is the former executive chef at the beloved pizzeria Franny's, which you may have seen eulogized as a "perfect Brooklyn restaurant" when it closed last year. That's where he fell in love with Italian and Mediterranean food, and that's what he'll be cooking up at Hyacinth. 

“The food is going to have that feeling of being light, healthy, vegetable-heavy, and simple, but at the same time we’re in Minnesota,” he tells the Growler. “We couldn’t be further from the Mediterranean.”

That means sourcing fresh veggies during winter months, which... tends to get a little more complicated. But it sounds like Giambruno has a plan there, too: He filled journals with hundreds of different dish ideas during his time at Franny's that used in-season ingredients. A little John Doe in Se7en? Perhaps. But it means he's ready to switch things up seasonally, taking temperature changes and produce shortages in stride.

The beer offerings should be pretty exciting, too, as Giambruno's brother Joe is the co-owner of Bad Weather Brewing in St. Paul. He'll help oversee a tight beer list that may or may not include a brew made exclusively for the restaurant.

You'll recall that the old Golden Fig space was pretty small, and Hyacinth will be correspondingly intimate -- just 40 seats. Golden Fig also wasn't a restaurant, somethat its former address actually hasn't housed before. Giambruno and co. have to spend the next few weeks going through the permitting process before the buildout, where they'll have to install just about everything. 

But the Growler reports that Giambruno is optimistic; his tentative opening date is set for mid-summer.