Tana, the new Italian concept from MoPho chef Michael Gulotta, opens Friday, Jan. 8, inside Mid-City cocktail bar Treo
(3835 Tulane Ave., 504-304-4878).
A third-generation Sicilian immigrant, Gulotta had been thinking about brining the cuisine of his Italian heritage to New Orleans diners for some time, but it wasn’t until Treo owner Pauline Patterson approached him about taking over the kitchen space that the concept came into focus.
“We’ve been friends with the Pattersons for a long time,” Gulotta says. “This is nice because it gives us the chance to stretch our culinary legs a bit.”
The chic art space-cum-cocktail lounge opened in early 2014 in what was then a semi-desolate strip of Tulane Avenue
. The bar opened with a tapas-style menu from chef James Cullen, who has since departed, and the owners had been offering an abbreviated version of the menu since.
Gulotta, an alum of Restaurant August, runs his restaurant company with brother Jeff Gulotta and friend Jeffrey Bybee. Together they run the Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant MoPho
and the pub-grub concept Rum and The Lash
inside Finn McCool's Irish Pub, another Patterson establishment.
Getting back to his roots was something Gulotta says he always wanted to do. He spent six months living and working in Liguria after finishing school and traveled extensively in Sicily.
“When I was there, it hit me how different and heavier the Italian food in New Orleans (is),” Gulotta says, who named the restaurant concept after his great-grandmother Gaetana. “I wanted to bring it back to that coastal feeling…and to show off the things that I learned while traveling. There won’t be red gravy or a lot of cheese,” Guolotta says. “Definitely no cream or butter, just a lot of olive oil.”
Gulotta says diners can expect a constantly changing menu of lighter fare including seafood and homemade pastas. The dishes are meant to be shared, and the menu will consist of roughly eight items.
The opening menu features corn flour garganelli with charred octopus, boudin noir ragu and mint; charred broccoli with cured kumquats, fresh chilies, garlic oil and Marcona almonds; roasted lamb shoulder rubbed with citrus and garum
, a fermented fish sauce, served with hand-rolled couscous; and roasted garlic spaghetti made with clams, crushed peppers and spicy shellfish pangrattato
Following a soft-opening Thursday evening, Tana will begin serving food during regular Treo hours, and may eventually expand to a full-time operation.
Tana at Treo will be open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
For more information, visit the Treo website here.