Jason Stratton’s proven his finesse with the fine foods of Italy's Piedmont region at the beloved Spinasse. And Artusi, Spinasse's adjoining aperitivo bar, has steadily developed into a worthwhile dining destination in its own right.
So I was thrilled to find out that Stratton had another project in the works, Aragona, where Stratton and his team will explore the foods of Spain. The restaurant is moving into a large space (96 Union Street) across the street from the Four Seasons and is expected to open in September.
Right now, the space, which was most recently Thoa's but many years ago housed the now-legendary Rosselini's Other Place, is in full buildout mode (pictured, right).
Jason tells me that, as at Artusi, he's very involved in the design of Aragona and wants the spirit of the place to be, "an amalgam of Spinasse and Artusi. Homey, warm farmhouse or mountain inn meets flashes of the kind of design elements that live inside Jason Stratton's head, a reflection of the type of contemporary design you might find in restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona or Granada—a happy juxtaposition of styles." He's hired Kate Jessup, a mosaic artist who'll be doing some installations for the space, and Erich Ginder who is doing the lighting design along with some other custom design pieces and finishes.
Stratton told me that Aragona, "will have an open kitchen with plating happening on a big wooden table. A short kitchen counter ringside. Soaring vaulted ceilings in the main dining room with a constellation of light fixtures. A beautiful service table ringing a pillar in the center of the dining room which will be a place for decanting wine, carving ham, dishing out rice after its presentation to the table. We may even have a little chariot for cheese, or after-dinner drinks. I definitely love the fact that it was Rosselini’s Other Place in a previous life. I want to bring out some of that elegance."
But what you really want to know is more about the food, right? Stratton teased at a few dishes, including that one up top: Salpicón Verde, or marinated clams with melon, cucumber and mint. Iit's one of the dishes that's being perfected for the opening menu along with Manteca colorá, a lard-based spread made with paprika; botifarra negra (a pork sausage) with quince; little sardine pancakes; "maybe a variation of the eggplant and honey combo I developed for Jerry at Poppy"; and xuxos, which are a kind of filled and fried cream horn which, Stratton says, "Carrie Mashaney is working on the perfect recipe and technique for. Version 5.0 kinda made me shed tears."
Realistically, the opening will happen in September. I can't wait.