Joel and Lani Gargano, co-owners of Chester’s Grano Arso, are opening a new Italian marketplace and cafe in Old Saybrook early next year.
Located at 75 Main Street, Gargano Pasta & Italian Market will offer pastries, coffee, cured meats, cheeses, wine, beer, and fresh pasta, along with imported specialty products.
Visitors will be able to watch chefs make pasta from scratch and the restaurant will serve dishes like cacio e pepe, spaghetti pomodoro and bucatini all amatriciana.
“We wanted something that was just a cut above the rest,” Chef Joel Gargano said. “We want guests to be able to purchase high-quality, artisanal products so they can craft things on their own, but also see the craftsmanship live in front of them when watching our chefs make pasta from scratch. We want to create an area where people can come and get multiple different things to plan their meal or week.”
The Garganos have wanted to open the market for years, but due to COVID-19, they were only recently able to start moving forward with planning. They currently estimate that the market will be ready for customers in between six and eight months, as gathering materials and scheduling builders has been challenging.
“We really want to focus on an elevated shopping experience,” Lani Gargano said. “Sometimes when I walk into a market, I’m confused about how to find what I need. We’ll have staff helping guests navigate the market, so if someone is looking at the collection of dry and fresh pasta options, someone will be there to guide them through what sauces go best with what pastas. They won’t just be let loose.”
While Gargano Pasta & Italian Market will be “more fast-paced and casual” than Grano Arso, Joel Gargano expects a similar clientele passionate about high quality Italian cooking.
“As a chef, having access to great ingredients really does make a difference, and for Italian cooking, it makes all the difference,” Joel Gargano said. “Simplicity goes into the creation of all of these things.”
Lani and Joel Gargano have also announced a new development at Grano Arso – “Chef Joel’s Seasonal Cooking & Cocktail box,” a subscription box that will allow guests to enjoy Grano Arso meals at home.
Table22, a business that creates monthly customer memberships for restaurants, approached the Grano Arso team about curating a box for them. The result is a monthly membership box with ingredients and recipes in a chef’s meal kit for two or four, which costs $125 or $240 per month, respectively. Customers can also add bottled to-go cocktails for an additional cost, starting at $40 for four drinks.
“Customers will just have to boil the fresh pasta at home and assemble the meal, and it will be in the same vein as our full tasting menu,” Joel Gargano said. “It will follow the classic Italian meal structure of shared items for the appetizer course, a pasta course, a protein, and dessert.”
Photos credit: Winter Caplanson of Connecticut Food and Farm