With his Sicilian heritage and fine dining chops, people frequently ask Michael Gulotta if he’ll ever open an Italian restaurant. Finally, his answer is yes.
The New Orleans-based chef is developing a new Italian restaurant in Old Metairie. It’s called TANA, and it will be an upscale showcase for traditional regional Italian cooking.
TANA is slated to open near early in 2023 at 2929 Metairie Road, close to Causeway Boulevard. It will be part of a new commercial development taking shape along the rapidly changing business strip here.
“This will be the Italian restaurant I’ve always wanted,” Gulotta said.
Gulotta is a New Orleans native who made his name as executive chef at Restaurant August. He left to open his Vietnamese-inspired restaurant, MoPho in Mid-City, and later opened the more upscale fusion restaurant Maypop in the CBD, as well as an outpost of MoPho at the airport.
He runs those today with longtime friend and business partner Jeff Bybee. For TANA, they’ve partnered with Gabe Corchiani, a businessman who created Fat Boy’s Pizza, and Christopher Keene, a owner of the Rivershack in Gretna.
TANA is named for the chef’s grandmother, Gaetana, and it may be familiar to some from an earlier venture. For two years, Gulotta ran TANA as the tavern kitchen at Treo, a cocktail lounge on Tulane Avenue, which has since closed.
Housemade pasta was the center of the first TANA concept, and will be again at the new restaurant. Designs for the restaurant call for a pasta rolling machine to have its own station visible in the dining room so people can watch the process.
The menu is still under development, but the guiding principles are deeply traditional Italian dishes, coastal flavors using Gulf seafood and some of the particulars from the chef’s own family.
“It’s taking old things and making them new, traditional flavor that we brighten and refresh a bit,” he said.
It will be different from the local Creole-Italian or American-Italian standards, he said, though there will be some local touchstones.
Bruscialoni, a long-braised, rolled beef dish rarely seen outside the home, will have a place on the menu, for instance.
“I grew up with it, my grandmother always cooked it, so I’m doing a bruscialoni,” Gulotta said.
TANA is shaping up to be a large restaurant of about 5,000 square feet. It will have a lounge, serving a separate menu of small plates and bar snacks, and outdoor patio seating.
Metairie Road has seen a flurry of new developments and an influx of restaurants. Gulotta believes it’s ripe for more upscale dining and that TANA can help fill that niche.
2929 Metairie Road
Projected opening early 2023
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