The Foreman Wolf restaurant group has made changes, big and small, to all of its restaurants. Formats have been massaged, tweaked and occasionally overhauled at Charleston, Cinghiale and Petit Louis Bistro.
Pazo especially has been in a state of almost continuous flux since its late 2004 opening. The menu at first focused on tapas-style dining and later emphasized a more traditional appetizer-entree approach. Dancing and a clublike atmosphere were promoted for a while, and then not so much.
Now, the Spanish restaurant is making a bigger change — it's going Italian.
Beginning today, Pazo will have a wholly new menu that focuses on the cuisine of southern Italy. It will have a new wine list, too.
The restaurant's name, which is Spanish for "manor" or "country house," will remain.
"The name is a good name," said Foreman Wolf co-owner Tony Foreman. "Half the world thought it was Italian anyway."
Foreman said the opulent decor, which was designed by Patrick Sutton, will remain as well. The original inspiration for the restaurant's look came as much from Italy as Spain, he said.
Pazo's executive chef will be Julian Marucci, who is also the executive chef at Cinghiale, the nearby Foreman Wolf that specializes in northern Italian cuisine.
"Southern Italian food comes from my heritage," said Marucci. "This food was always part of the table when I grew up."
His opening menu at Pazo will include house-cured sardines, wood-grilled octopus, Neapolitan-style pizzas and fresh pastas such as fettucine with fava beans and pioppini mushrooms and ravioli filled with ricotta, tomato and basil sauce. It will also include such entrees as pan-roasted whole chicken that Marucci ran as a special at Cinghiale but that he said works just as well, if not better, on the menu of a southern Italian restaurant.
Marucci said that true southern Italian cuisine is simple and healthy. "Not everything is in tomato sauce," he said.