Tucson is in for quite a treat.
Joseph Keller, who, if the name isn't ringing a bell, opened Yountville's Bouchon along with his brother, Thomas Keller, the famed owner and chef of The French Laundry, is setting up shop in Tucson.
Silvio's Italian Restaurant is expected to open in the summer of 2016 at 2120 West Ina Road with help from Tucson real estate developer Steve Nannini.
The eatery will apply inspiration from Nannini's Italian ancestry and the flavors of Tuscany while incorporating Keller's refined touch and attention to detail.
The idea began nearly 8 years ago, when Nannini approached Keller about establishing an Italian restaurant that would honor his grandparents, Silvio and Giaconda Nannini.
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As they inch closer to completion, Keller explains, "it has really become something much bigger."
Keller began cooking in his early teens and has been perfecting his craft ever since.
He learned the art of pasta making while working at Petite Marmite in Palm Beach. Keller remembers making family meals for the kitchen staff, rolling out fresh pasta, and pressing perfect gnocchi.
From Palm Beach to New York, Napa, then Vegas, the Bouchon co-owner took that skill and heart that comes from an Italian kitchen and made it his own.
"I'm hoping to take that part of my life and bring it [to Tucson]," Keller said.
In between traveling the world and helping his brother break into the restaurant scene with The French Laundry, Keller opened Bouchon, a French bistro in 1998.
Keller plans on using techniques he has developed, while integrating Nannini's family recipes and "cucina povera," which translates to "Tuscan peasant cooking."
"Imagine a French bistro like Bouchon, but injected with the warmth and tastes of an Italian trattoria," Keller explains. "Everything will be made in house."
The menu is expected to feature freshly made pasta and gnocchi, "grand piatto" (big plates), pizza cooked in a brick oven, cured meats, and oysters from the in-house raw bar along with many late night options.
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Nannini's taste for wine will also be incorporated into Silvio's dining experience. The Tucson developer has spent the last 10 years harvesting and perfecting variations of Tuscan grapes right in his own backyard. (Read about Steve Nannini's backyard vineyard from a 2009 Arizona Daily Star feature.)
"Steve doesn’t do anything half-assed," Keller said. "The wine has been drinking really great."
Keller's bond with Nannini is undeniable. He compares it to the relationship with his brother who founded The French Laundry.
After years of collaborating in the kitchen, the Keller brothers know one another's rhythm. Keller described it as a dance - "working around people really closely yet you're never running into them."
Keller's community mentality transcends into the belly of the restaurant. "The food is secondary. It is the people that come first."
Silvio's is expected to have a high level of service with keen attention to the dining experience and a refined, upscale atmosphere.
The chef explains that he has had plenty of time to check for cracks in the foundation, and is certain Silvio's is just what Tucson needs.
"I know that I can do it well,” Keller said.
Check back for the latest information on Silvio's Restaurant and keep an eye on Tucson Foodie for Silvio's full menu offerings.