The Lower East Side is now home to Fossetta, a new Italian spot from the owner of Cafe Colette in Williamsburg, Julie Park. It’s a cozy destination with homey touches, a thoughtful wine program, and a big pizza oven they’re using to make fresh breads. To start, it’s open for dinner, with all-day hours to follow.
In this edition of the Resy Rundown, we sat down with Park, chef Charlene Santiago, and managing partner Joshua Even to chat all things menu, working with people you trust, and relying on your community.
1. Fossetta is cozy with intention.
Park was clear– Fossetta is not Cafe Colette.
“I think everyone expected us to do another Cafe Colette, but we were really interested in starting another brand. And really, the space dictated it,” Park said.
Before finding the space in the Lower East Side, the team didn’t know what the concept was going to be; they just knew that they wanted to work together.
Once they got into Fossetta, there was a pizza oven that they knew they would have to keep and incorporate (that’s why fresh bread is on the menu). There are 24 tables, and the restaurant seats around 55, with an additional few seats outside when the weather is nice. The team plans to save the 10 bar seats for walk-ins.
“It’s got the big garage doors. It was light and airy and it’s got these high ceilings that are open with all the workings visible from inside,” Even said. “It just felt like a place where you would drink wine and have a beer and commune over some food.”
It was a labor of love for friends and family of the trio: Ceramics teachers made bowls. Friends did renderings and built the back bar. These touches, Park says, make a cozy space that much more intentional.
“A lot of times I go to restaurants right now and I feel like I’m sitting in a rendering. Everything is so hyper-designed down to the color palettes,” she said. “We wanted to create a warm inviting space but without referencing a specific time or design. The little touches show you that someone really cared about your experience.”
2. The menu is focused on Italian and Mediterranean influences…
Fossetta, which means “dimple” in Italian, will focus on cuisine from that country alongside influences from the Mediterranean, Spain, France, and North Africa.
To start, dig into olives, smashed eggplant, or frutti di mare. For primi, there’s fried pig ear, mixed chicory salad, and roasted pumpkin with herb butter. Pastas range from lasagna bolognese to bucatini with chicken livers, but definitely don’t forget an order of ricotta and hot honey focaccia.
The kitchen space behind the bar will be where the salads, antipasti, and bread will come out, in full view of the patrons in the restaurant. Downstairs will take charge of pastas, which will be made freshly in house, and other more intensive mains.
“We’re trying to get as much [of the food to come out from behind the bar] as possible so that the guests can experience and see that all happen. It just feels more familial and communal,” Even said.
3. … And the wine list follows suit.
For now, Fossetta is only offering beer and wine with a focus on Italian options. More “traditional” natural wines make an appearance, but Even says they won’t be the only choice available.
“I’ve gone through this whole natural wine thing where you’re drinking these bright, high acid wines – and I love that stuff. That will be there. But we also have the more traditional profile that has always been made naturally, but that people might not recognize as such because that’s not the popular ‘natural’ style now,” he says.
4. Three’s a (good) crowd for the team here.
This is not the first restaurant the three have opened together; the trio has been working together in some form since 2009.
Santiago and Even met first, opening the Breslin together and later the John Dory.
“Openings are very intense and you see your colleagues more often than you see anybody else,” Even said, continuing that the two became fast friends.
Meanwhile, Park and Santiago met during the throes of COVID, during which the unprecedented nature of the situation showed them how well they truly worked together.
“You see people’s true colors. You can’t do this by yourself– no one can open a restaurant by themselves. It is all about teamwork,” Park said.
Fossetta is open seven days a week, from 5 p.m until 10:30 p.m. for the kitchen and 11 p.m. for the bar.