Since Telmo Faria's Portuguese restaurant, Uma Casa, won't open until June (at least) and his new space is still in escrow, the chef has found himself with a little time on his hands. In the meantime, the former Tacolicious chef has signed on with Birba owner Angie Valgiusti to revamp the petite wine bar's menu.
Faria says that his participation is driven in part by a shared love of Portuguese wines with Valgiusti, and her desire for a more European menu, with influences from the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal, Italy and the Mediterranean. "When Angie opened she had a really specific vision of what she wanted: to do something truly European, more than another wine bar with California cuisine."
The restaurant is on the tiny side, with very limited kitchen space. With that in mind, the menu will include a variety of tapas-style small plates (some of which will be test runs for Uma Casa) alongside heartier dishes like caldo verde and albondigas. Smaller dishes like tuna conserva toasts with chickpea puree and an antipasti platter will make up the majority. Faria says it's been nice to be back in the kitchen after months of restaurant planning, especially working with someone as passionate about Portuguese wine as Valgiusti, who was a sommelier at Slanted door for 12 years. Faria says that there's a possibility that Valgiusti will collaborate on the wine list at Uma Casa, as well.
Faria will be in the kitchen Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner throughout the months of January and February. Additionally he and Valgiusti have a special dinner in the works, that they're billing as an "informational tasting" on the food and wine of Portugal. The tasting takes place January 17; tickets to the two seatings are available here. And as for Uma Casa, Faria has a few more pop-ups planned in the next couple months, leading up to the opening date. Stay tuned for more details.