Joe Freemond walks from Cellar Wine Bar, citing a "long list of problems" -- and lands as the chef of DiFranco's
And Freemond is a self-described pasta fiend, with an endless repertoire that goes way beyond starchy strands of noodles. "I'm capable of making 1,300 different pasta shapes, thanks to a encyclopedic pasta cookbook I have, and during the time I was at Cellar, I never made the same pasta shape twice," he says, noting that one of the primary reasons that he's joining DiFranco in the kitchen is because of the emphasis on pastas. "Fresh-made pastas are a big component over there, and I'm definitely going to try to continue my streak of not repeating the same pasta twice," he says. And he'll also delve into creating pasta shapes that you normally don't see outside of Italy -- maltagliati, for example. "I'm obsessed with the history of pasta and pasta shapes, and I barely scratched the tip of the iceberg at Cellar, because the kitchen was so small. I was relegated to making small handmade shapes and different variations of noodles -- but nothing stuffed, like ravioli."
In addition, Freemond says he'd like to introduce an in-house butchery program to DiFranco's. "I spent some time working with Mark DeNittis at Il Mondo Vecchio, and I'd definitely love to start making our sausages in-house, along with a few other things," he says, divulging, too, that he'll bring DeNittis in for a whole-beast disassembly dinner down the road.
And in early February, Freemond and DiFranco will unleash a new menu. "It'll be a combination of of revamped family recipes that incorporate seasonality and contemporary components," says DiFranco. "We're not trying to do anything complicated," he stresses, "but Joe definitely brings a lot to the table in terms of pastas and meats -- especially braising and roasting -- and I think that we'll be able to offer a few things that you don't see everywhere else." And starting next week, DiFranco's hours will expand during the week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
"I see this as a really great opportunity to join a business that's already been branded beautifully," says Freemond. There's definite room for growth, and I want to be a part of that."