Already booked to cook at over 200 events each year, caterer and chef Gerard Nebesky is adding some extra spice to his plate, opening a 65-seat restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa.
Fresh off Napa’s Bottle Rock Festival, where his eponymous Paella stand sold the most covers of any food outlet onsite, Nebesky expands to a brick-and-mortar in the former Arrigoni’s Deli space on Fourth Street opening June 27. A Persona Pizza franchise briefly filled the spot before it returned to local ownership. In fact, according to Nebesky, the building’s owner phoned him out of the blue and asked him to take over the space.
Having bested Bobby Flay in 2008 at his own Throwdown for paella, Nebesky is good for a challenge. Having a six-year-old daughter at home in Western Sonoma County means he’s good for some time close to home.
Calling the space Gerard’s Paella Y Tapas, this fast casual restaurant will specialize in paella cooked quickly as well as papas bravas, seafood appetizers, and churros with chocolate for dunking.
Nebesky aims to have customers come in for a paella, salad, and non-alcoholic drink for less than $20. Using individual-sized paella pans allows Nebesky’s cooks to pre-make the rice to the socorrat stage in which a crispy crust forms on the pan’s bottom. Once a customer orders, the paella can be quickly completed in the wood-burning oven, a welcome leftover from the a previous tenant whose focus was wood-fired pizza. Given that rice must set and ingredients cook, paella can often take up to an hour —Nebesky plans to shorten this wait time to under 10 minutes.
Serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, Gerard’s will have six draft beers, three tap wines, and even a special cider from Radio Couteau. Housemade Shrubs, the popular fermented drinking vinegar, will be available as a stand-alone beverage or as a Shandy with craft beer added.
Starting June 20, hours will be 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.