In the continuing story of how Nopa is slowly becoming a serious dining neighborhood, Che Fico, the rustic Italian restaurant from chef David Nayfeld (Eleven Madison Park, Cru, Nobu) and co-owner Matt Brewer (L20, Hogsalt Hospitality), is marching right along. It won’t make its original projected opening date of this spring, but Nayfeld told Eater that all permitting is now approved and the team is about to start construction for a "by winter" opening.
In the meantime, Nayfeld is cooking for events, doing research and development, and has made a key hire, bringing Angela Pinkerton on board as executive pastry chef. Pinkerton joins from, most recently, a consulting stint at Craftsman & Wolves, and before that, eight years as Eleven Madison Park’s pastry chef (where the two met), during which time the New York City fine dining temple earned three Michelin stars and the number four spot on the World’s Best Restaurant list. Oh, and Pinkerton won James Beard outstanding pastry chef in 2011 … so it’s safe to say she’s quite qualified for the project.
Pinkerton told Eater she joined Che Fico because she wanted to do something of her own and "be involved in people's’ lives on the daily instead of only special occasions," she said. Her plan for desserts is to keep them simple and shareable, like a dark chocolate budino emulsified with olive oil and served with salted caramel ice cream almond brittle. "Angela’s touch to dessert is exceptional in a lot of different ways, but my favorite reason is that she comes from a background where her desserts were alway eaten after about 13 to 15 courses of food," Nayfeld said. "So she needed to figure out a way to make that impactful without making it prohibitive."
"We want to have a vibe of people coming in the later part of the night and enjoying themselves and having food."
While Pinkerton is not a partner in the restaurant, she has been brought on as a partner of Back Home Hospitality, the restaurant group that Nayfeld and Brewer started. Nayfeld and Pinkerton hinted at the possibility of Pinkerton’s own project in the future. "We’re not dumb. We know that with Angela being a partner with us and being on our team, we’ve scored so big, and that her talent can’t truly just shine through in a five to seven item menu," Nayfeld said. "So eventually the goal is for Angela to have not just one, but multiple different things that can shine through what her visions are."
For now it’s full steam ahead on Che Fico and refining the vision, which is an Italian neighborhood spot with elevated handmade pastas, pizzas, housemade salumi, and more that appeals to locals and industry folk alike. "We want to have a vibe of people coming in the later part of the night and enjoying themselves and having food, and we want to have a bar that’s constantly full where people eat at and have fun and listen to music," Nayfeld said. While the style of food will be similar to other casual but pedigreed Italian restaurants in the city (Cotogna, Flour & Water, Tosca Cafe), the team plans to play a lot of punk rock, 80s and 90s hip hop, grunge, and metal. "What we’re hoping to achieve is something true to our inner selves so when our 12 year old selves are looking at us, they don't want to kick our asses," Nayfeld said.