Paul Verica, the chef and owner of The Stanley, plans to open his new Italian restaurant in NoDa next week.
Why it matters: Orto is a notable departure from Verica’s beloved farm-to-table restaurants like The Stanley and the now-closed Heritage. It has a simpler and more affordable menu, one he tells me he hopes can be replicated in other Charlotte neighborhoods.
Flashback: Exactly one year ago, just as the worst of the pandemic struck Italy, Verica was in Tuscany doing R&D for the restaurant and picking up art pieces to display.
The trip was cut short, but many of Orto’s details were inspired from that trip and his experience as an Italian-American.
Menu highlights: Pasta and pizza, plain and simple.
- The pasta is made by hand in-house and ranges in price from about $15-$25.
- Pizza is the same style Verica grew up eating outside of Philadelphia: sauce-on-top, rectangular pies. They cost around $15-$17.
- There’s also salads, sandwiches and other entrees.
Cocktails: Mixologist Amanda Britton is now behind the bar at Orto with creative takes on classic Italian cocktails. You may remember her for her fun cocktails at Bardo and VANA (see: rosé gummy bears).
Space: Orto, which means “vegetable garden” in Italian, is flooded with natural light and has an expansive covered patio with overhead heaters. On one wall inside, there’s a mural of vegetables painted by artist and Lark & Key gallery owner Duy Huynh.
Location: 416 E. 36th, the corner spot of the building that faces 36th Street and also houses Jeni’s and Wooden Robot. It’s across from Idlewild and Novel NoDa’s apartment community.
Hours: To start, Orto will be open on Wednesday through Sunday for dinner only. Then it’ll add all-day service (with brunch) on Saturdays and Sundays. As the coronavirus situation improves, Verica plans to add lunch, too.