The original Figlio digs in Calhoun Sqaure are getting a new tenant, Parella, an Italian restaurant from Todd Macdonald, the man Minnesota-foodie-land has been waiting to get a restaurant since he moved back home a year and a half ago after a lauded cooking career in New York City at Willow Road, Cru, and Bouley.
Parella is named after a town in Piedmont, Italy, and the principal owner is Michael Larson, who owns the burger and pizza spot Digby’s in Roseville, and who formerly ran Pronto Ristorante back in the day, and, in the interests of full disclosure, is married to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine food and dining editor Stephanie March. (Who is not the Stephanie March who is married to celebrity chef Bobby Flay; that is a totally different blonde!)
But just because Parella is named after a town in Piedmont, Macdonald tells me not to expect Piedmontese cooking, but instead rustic, but modern, Italian with most everything coming out of Figlio’s famed wood-fired pizza oven, or off the soon-to-be-installed wood grill.
Ever been to Peasant, in New York? It will be a bit like that, Macdonald says, but a little cheaper, and with some elements of his fancier Italian past worked in. “I was an Italian chef for a good 10 years, including the three years I was at Cru, and I love that sensibility, I think it’s a good fit for Minnesota, good ingredients showcased well.”
Some examples? Think duck with Jerusalem artichokes, in the fall, with a fruit mostarda. Daily, expect a wood-oven-roasted goat cheese baked with spicy tomato and fresh herbs, served with crispy olive toasts for the table to share. Everyday dishes might include chicken, wood-baked under a brick, or a whole wood-roast branzino. Expect those entrees to start at $12, with occasional specials such as a roast suckling pig or a unique steak, which will be priced higher.
Pasta-heads, take note, Macdonald was known for a special touch with fresh pasta, and plans to continue that at Parella, with modern takes on classics, such as a vitello tonnato rendered in pasta form, with a veal tortelloni in a sweet corn broth with a hint of mustard, served with shaved bonito flakes and capers. There will also be a crudo bar, that is, a special counter serving the Italian way with raw fish; Macdonald says some of his crudo favorites include fluke and scallop. (Trivia hunters, take note: Minneapolis is about to go from zero to two crudo bars in the space of this spring, with the opening of both Monello and Parella; upcoming Il Foro, in the historic Forum Cafeteria/Goodfellow’s space, will have crudo on its menu but, as of this writing, no plans for a set-apart crudo bar.)
Mary Macdonald, Todd’s wife and a certified sommelier, will oversee the wine program and they're aiming to have an all-Italian list, if the market will bear it.
Now here’s the last of the big news: Parella will maintain Figlio’s former tradition of all-day and late-night hours, expect service seven days a week, lunch, dinner, and all the way to bar-close! “We’ll go to a smaller late night menu after 10 p.m., but the plan is to go to bar-close seven nights a week at first, and see if the demand is there.” So there’s a challenge to you night-birds: Will you actually go to the late-night restaurant you’re always clamoring for? It’s put up or shut up time.
Before I shut up, my last words: Planned opening, mid-June or July. Till then, get out your pasta-eating pants, Minnesota, because it looks like we’re going to have a very Italian summer.
Parella, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.