Burrasca was an immediate hit when it opened in the little cart pod off NE 28th and Ankeny in August 2013. Florentine chef Paolo Calamai's authentic, deeply flavorful Tuscan dishes were almost too good to eat from a picnic table in a parking lot. And so we knew this day was coming, when Calamai and his wife, Elizabeth Petrosian, would announce their plans to open a full-service restaurant.
"This was always our goal," Petrosian says. "It's what we always wanted to do. The cart is great but Paolo could only do five or six dishes from there. Italian food needs to have more options, so you can build a meal."
With the restaurant, Calamai will still put his focus squarely on Tuscan cuisine, there will just be a lot more of it. "They will definitely be the dishes he offered in the cart," says Petrosian, "but there will be more dishes, more pastas, plus things like appetizers and desserts."
The only downside is the cart will shutter on January 1, 2015, while the couple gear up for their new venture, which they're aiming to open by April or May.
First on the agenda is finding the right location. "We've been semi-actively looking," says Petrosian. "And we're going to ramp that up and hopefully find something that won't require a huge build-out."
Then they'll take some time off to recharge with a long-awaited family trip to India in late January or early February. When they get back, they'll launch a Kickstarter in March to help with the expenses, and they'll host a few few pop-up dinners in their home. They're also open to working with private investors.
But for now, you can still catch Calamai at the cart, where he's dishing up things like steaming bowls of ribolitta, tangles of tagliatelle tossed in meaty ragu, and braised squid inzimino, truly one of the best dishes in town. Get your fix while you can.