Our environments form us in numerous methods, and for Angela Petruzzelli, garlic-scented summers and plates of recent seafood loved by the ocean are the early moments that make up the chapters of her culinary diary.

Yearly when faculty would come to an finish, the founding father of the country pop-up idea Sprezza would hop on a aircraft to Bari, Italy, the place her father was born. Within the dreamy coastal city on the Adriatic Sea, she cooked along with her nonna within the kitchen, studying floor guidelines similar to “no ricotta within the lasagna,” and basked in the fantastic thing about Puglia.

“All the ladies in my household cooked each single evening,” Petruzzelli says. “My grandmother and my aunt’s residences are actually linked. They reside on one tiny flooring, and we take tables from everybody’s homes and put them collectively, and there’s 30 of us in there each Sunday on this tiny little condominium, and that’s how we eat dinner, and that’s how I grew up.”

In November, Petruzzelli plans to reintroduce Sprezza as a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a romantic invitation to rethink Italian delicacies, within the former Morton’s the Steakhouse house at 111 Virginia St. in Shockoe Slip.

Relocating to Richmond days earlier than the world shut down in the course of the early days of the pandemic, in search of a solution to join with the group, the Miami transplant turned to her household’s lasagna.

“I at all times wished to share in some capability my household lasagna recipe; I knew that recipe was particular,” Petruzzelli says. “I’ve been making it for therefore a few years, and the response was at all times such an intense one, I used to be like, this may’t be regular.”

Taking discover of the thriving pop-up tradition within the space, Petruzzelli launched Sprezza final yr. Serving mortadella panini; Bolognese pappardelle with pomodorini, cream, pancetta, shallots and Parmesan, an ode to her mom; and numerous variations of tiramisu and cannoli to go, every pop-up at The Damaged Tulip, The Coop and Pizza Bones offered out.

Petruzzelli says the assist over the previous yr was the nudge she wanted to raise the idea to a extra everlasting standing.

“The sense of group right here, you truthfully simply should put your self on the market for a second for individuals to obtain you,” she says. “That makes being an entrepreneur and beginning a enterprise very comforting right here; I really feel actual supported by the suggestions.”

Sprezza’s menu will steer away from heaping plates of spaghetti blanketed with cheese, Alfredo sauce, limitless breadsticks and different tropes which have turn out to be synonymous with Italian American delicacies. A lot of the meals provided in the course of the pop-ups was created with to-go service in thoughts, and now Petruzzelli is happy to dig deeper into her Puglia-rooted imaginative and prescient and says patrons can count on loads of recent seafood and sausage, egg-based recent pasta dishes, and, after all, her household’s lasagna.

The enterprise’s title comes from “sprezzatura,” the artwork of taking one thing sophisticated and making it seem quite simple. The menu will emphasize seasonality and sustainability. Describing the meals of Southern Italy, Petruzzelli says, “It’s not heavy in any respect, ever, even stews — the parts are a lot smaller. Very a lot meals you’ll eat by the seaside and go swimming after.”

Petruzzelli is at the moment working to rework the ’90s-era man cave that was Morton’s the Steakhouse, which closed in 2020, ripping up carpet, changing lighting fixtures and dealing to deliver her coastal inspiration to life. Hoping to benefit from the 7,800-square-foot house, Petruzzelli will launch with dinner service earlier than slowly introducing lunch, brunch and pastries and cafe service within the morning.

A go to to Italy a couple of months in the past strengthened the culinary impressions she goals to share with others. Gradual. Relaxed. An expertise to savor.

“In Italy, it’s very very similar to that; you go to a restaurant and will simply sit there for 3 hours. I don’t need individuals to come back to my restaurant and really feel rushed,” Petruzzelli says. “The meals tradition over there may be so totally different. One thing I wish to deliver to my restaurant is sluggish meals and having fun with the second and never specializing in a lot of being there only for sustenance. You’re there for a second, that’s the a part of the tradition that I believe doesn’t get translated in Italian American meals.”

Sprezza is ready to open in late fall; keep tuned for a gap date within the coming weeks.

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