Tana, the Italian concept from MoPho chef Michael Gulotta, is now open inside the Mid-City cocktail bar Treo (3835 Tulane Ave., 504-304-4878; www.treonola.com).
A third-generation Sicilian immigrant, Gulotta had been considering bringing 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 Treo 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 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 now works at Press Street Station. The owners have offered 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 (514 City Park Ave., 504-482-6845; www.mophonnola.com) and the pub-grub concept Rum and The Lash (504-265-8997; www.rumandthelash.com) inside Finn McCool's Irish Pub (3701 Banks St. 504-466-9080; www.finnmccools.com), another establishment owned by the Pattersons.
Gulotta says he always wanted to get back to his roots. He spent six months 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)," says Gulotta, who named the restaurant concept after his great-grandmother Gaetana. "I wanted to bring it back to that coastal feeling. ...There won't be red gravy or a lot of cheese — definitely no cream or butter, just a lot of olive oil."
Gulotta says diners can expect a constantly changing short menu of lighter fare including seafood and house-made pastas. 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.
Tana at Treo will be open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.