CINCINNATI — After years of living in San Francisco, the Ferrari brothers are coming home to Cincinnati -- and they’re bringing a little bit of the West Coast with them.
Tony Ferrari, alongside with his younger brother, Austin, will soon open a California-inspired restaurant at the Contemporary Arts Center. Named after their father, Fausto at the CAC will showcase seasonal, locally sourced food with a breezy California vibe.
“California cuisine is very diverse, fresh and seasonal,” Tony Ferrari said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
Born and raised in Clifton, the older Ferrari lived in San Francisco for about a dozen years and has two food ventures there: Provender Coffee, a neighborhood café, and Hillside Supper Club, a “slow food”-inspired restaurant that prides itself on the use of local and seasonal ingredients. Ferrari will keep his stake in both endeavors.
The menu has yet to be finalized, but Ferrari has definite ideas of what Fausto will offer.
“We’ll do a coffee shop (format) in the morning with great pastries from North South Baking Co.,” Ferrari said. “There’ll be an egg sandwich on the menu with a couple of different toasts -- very light, easy fare.”
Their signature coffee blend, Ferrari Bros Espresso, will be front and center in the java department. The blend is the product of their collaboration with Deeper Roots Coffee.
“It hits you with dark caramel chocolate but finishes with a fruity note of blueberry and raspberry,” Ferrari said.
Lunch will be à la carte with a menu that leans light. There’ll be plenty of greens, grains and vegetables along with the use of “high acidity” vinaigrettes and olive oil.
“It’s very Mediterranean, if you will,” Ferrari said. “You’ll feel good eating it.”
Patrons can expect counter or fast-casual service for breakfast and lunch. However, the setup will transition to full service for dinner with reservations available through OpenTable.
For dinner, Ferrari will offer a more refined, three-course tasting menu for $39 with a couple of options for each course. Because of the hyperfocus on seasonality and peak flavors, he hinted the menu could change six, eight or even 10 times a year.
“Whatever’s available to us, that’s what we’re going to cook,” he said.
The first course will be light with choices such as crudo, salad or soup.
“We might have chilled beet soup with avocado crema and dill,” Ferrari suggested.
For the second course -- the main -- Ferrari envisions serving a dish like roasted loin of lamb with pole beans and salsa verde. To finish, the third course will offer choices such as a cheese plate, rhubarb galette or even chocolate pudding.
For bigger appetites, there will be a pasta mid-course that can be added for an additional $10.
“It could be a melon risotto with pancetta or spring pea tortellini,” Ferrari added. “Most of the time, that pasta course will be vegetarian.”
Meat will play sidekick to vegetables at Fausto. Ferrari plans to bring to the table the plenitude of locally grown produce and showcase its full range of flavors.
“The beautiful vegetables we have -- we can do fun things like smoke them and make incredible sauces,” he said. “These amazing ingredients and garnishes like edible flowers, and flower shoots from garlic blossoms, chive blossoms and rosemary flowers -- they’re not only beautiful but flavorful.”
Fausto will be no less than the Ferrari brothers’ culinary canvas and stage.
“If you come to look at beautiful art, we will also have the food to go with it,” Ferrari said with a smile. He hinted that, every once in a while, they might create food that’s in tandem with the artwork at the CAC.
He added that the restaurant experience will include a 3D video of him and Austin walking through the farms they source from.
“As you’re eating, the film will play on the wall, so you feel like you’re in the farm and part of what we did,” Ferrari said.
Raphaela Platow, the Alice & Harris Weston Director of the Contemporary Arts Center, said “we feel we’ve truly found kindred spirits” in partnering with Ferrari brothers.
“Their excitement at bringing a unique and creatively expressive restaurant to the culinary landscape of Cincinnati is infectious, and we can’t wait for the city to experience this new offering in the heart of Downtown,” Platow said in a written statement.
Fausto will seat roughly 50 with a full bar. Austin Ferrari will head up the bar program with Jamie Clemento on craft cocktails. The bar will feature Ferrari Bros Rosé, a custom label pinot noir the pair made with their friend in Santa Barbara, California.
“It’s super dry and crisp … delicious especially in summer,” Ferrari said.
Ferrari also hopes to inspire a bigger conversation surrounding food.
“Where does the waste go afterward ... are we composting … and why aren’t we sourcing more ingredients from farms that practice good husbandry?” he said. “This is all very important.”
“The attention to detail that the Ferraris bring to their craft extends from the sourcing and sustainability of the ingredients in each dish to the carefully considered guest experience and mirrors that of the carefully-curated exhibitions in the galleries above,” Platow said.
Even as Tony and Austin Ferrari lived in California, their ties to Cincinnati remained strong. They’ve been active in other ventures in the last few years. In 2017, they took over Ferrari Barbershop & Coffee Co. downtown, a barber shop that has been in the family for more than 60 years. And along with their mom, Theresa, the brothers will soon open Mom 'N'em, a coffee shop with a full bar, in Camp Washington.
Ferrari is excited but a tad nervous about opening a full-fledged restaurant so soon after their return.
“Cincinnati is a new market for us even though we’re from here,” Ferrari said.
He’s grateful for the help of fellow chefs and restaurateurs in the Queen City and credits them for the vibrant food scene.
“We’re hoping to come home strong,” he said. “Let’s blow this city up and let’s make this a badass food town.”
Fausto at the CAC
Where: Inside the Contemporary Arts Center at 44 E. 6th St., Downtown.
Projected opening: Mid-June 2019.
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday; closed Saturday-Sunday evenings following CAC hours and events.
Facebook page: Fausto at the CAC
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO. She is the interim program chair of culinary arts at Cincinnati State College, and is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation. Connect with her at https://www.graceyek.com/.