Barrett Gets Dream Of Lifetime: Learning To Cook Italian Dishes In Italy
Mark Barrett attained one of the best gifts he could get as a young chef - meeting celebrity chef Mario Batali.
Barrett met Batali after he attended culinary school and was working his way to becoming a sous chef at Babbo, a Greenwich Village restaurant and the place Batali offered something extraordinary. This something extraordinary was living with the family he lived with in Italy and being trained there. The catch? The person would have to be employed for a year at the restaurant.
Barrett, 44, remained in the country for two years, working in various restaurants in Sicily and Emila-Romagna before coming back to work in New York and opening his own business.
Barrett will use the experiences he picked up to help him with Omerta, the white-tablecloth Italian restaurant located in the former Westin Hotel in Portland.
The restaurant, which has a slated opening for within a week will be in the renamed Dossier hotel. It will include Italian American dishes such as veal parm, chicken parm as well as traditional southern Italian dishes. There will also be a cheese wheel, bread service, etc.
Opal, a 100-seat cocktail bar opened by John Janulis and Kurt Huffman, will open adjacent to the restaurant. The bar will include much of the street-fronting square footage that was once home to the Daily Grill.
According to Huffman, Opal offers luxury with solid wood ceilings, walnut and blue leather seats.
Justin Diaz will handle things behind the bar whereas Joel Gunderson will deal with all things on the Italian wine list. Adam Smith is the general manager.
Huffman said Omerta was a passion project for Gordon Sondland, owner of Provenance Hotels. He said the trick was locating a chef that would make a traditional Italian dish, not put their spin in on it. Barrett, he said, was that person.
Barrett moved to Portland with his wife who got a job at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center as a pediatric anesthesiologist. While Barret will have a say in the New York restaurant, it will reopen it with another name and chef.