Grazie Italian Restaurant Opens in North Adams
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — David Moresi had a vision when he bought the Mulcare Block nearly two years ago: Restore his grandfather's tavern, the Mohawk, and open an Italian eatery.
The Mohawk reopened last year, but the restaurant has taken a little longer and required just the right ingredient.
Moresi found it in another North Adams native who had recently returned to the area with his growing family.
"We hit it off, we both had the same vision of what we wanted," said Matt Tatro last week in the newly furnished dining room of Grazie on Marshall Street. "We're both hard working guys, family oriented."
Moresi said it was the right partnership, with each bringing his skills and business acumen to the venture.
"I'm the construction end, he's the hospitality end and that's what makes it work," he said. "Restaurants fail — this is a recipe for success."
Grazie had initially been planned to open last year but other obligations by Moresi's construction company put it off until this week. That time was put to good use, said Tatro.
"The good part about it was that we could figure out every little intricacy, no detail was left unnoticed," he said. "We found everything that needed to be done. ... That time allowed us to find everything we were looking for."
Their shared vision can be found throughout the restaurant, with its classic white tablecloth dining room filled with Moresi's eBay finds of Italian scenes and vintage menus mixed with contemporary scenes of the old country on loan from photographer and artist Kelly Lee.
On the other side, a brand-new bar offers space for eating with a deeper counter, copper foot rail, hooks for pocketbooks and handy charging ports for phones. The lounge in the back has a plump, curved banquette and deep red wallpaper, and is decorated in vintage photographs of Moresi's ancestors.
The entire space, last used as RUB restaurant, has been entirely reconfigured and its original chestnut wood restored and reused, including in table bread boards designed by Tatro and made by a former Moresi & Associates employee.
Tatro also designed the compact kitchen for efficiency and he and his wife, Mackenzie, who will run the front of house, spent hours pouring over plate and flatware samples, and designing menus.
That mix of old and new, and very personal investment, can be found throughout the menu as well.
"From soup to nuts it's pretty much a scratch kitchen," said Tatro. Elements he learned from his first job at the former La Veranda can be found in the sauce that was bubbling away on the stove and the peppers and onions it served are on the appetizer menu.
After graduating from Drury High School in 2003, he attended Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and spent 10 years in Boston, where he became an executive chef. He and his wife, also an area native, returned last year to be closer to family.
"I'm well versed in a lot of cuisines," he said. "It's a good balance of northern and southern Italian cuisines and everything's fresh ...
"You will really get that sense of sitting down in a restaurant for a homemade meal."
That includes a serving of bread and Matt's "Famous" Bean Dip on those cutting boards and a side of spaghetti and salad with entrees. Grazie also offers a gluten-free option.
"This is a preliminary menu, as we move forward we will see what people want," Tatro said.
Grazie opens for business this Friday although the restaurant is only seating by reservation the first couple weeks. Call 413-664-0044 to make a reservation.
It also will be only serving dinners at this point but is available for scheduled events for lunch or dinner, including cocktail receptions in the lounge.
There are a lot of people eager to try out the restaurant — there was a run on gift cards last month.
"I think the gift card sales speaks a lot to the overall business and Matt's reputation," said Moresi. "For a restaurant that's not open yet, it shows the anticipation and confidence people have in this venture."
Service is already being provided to the Mohawk Tavern next door, which has its own menu separate from Grazie and a pneumatic tube used to place orders.
A separate winery is nearly completed in the basement and Tatro anticipates future wine tastings and wine dinners.
"We're taking it one step at a time, you only get one first impression and we want to do it right," he said.
Both said they wanted to give something back to the community, and see bringing back a missing piece of the downtown as part of that.
"We know what people want, we know what we want, we know what we grew up on," said Moresi. "This restaurant is for North Adams, it's for the Northern Berkshires. ... The tourists will come by default. ...
"It's just a great meal at a great price."
Tags: Italian, Main Street, opening, restaurant,