SCHENECTADY — An Italian restaurant focusing on fresh local ingredients and homemade pasta will open its doors in downtown Schenectady this spring in the former home of Aperitivo Bistro.
The new restaurant, named Grano, will occupy the storefront at 426 State St., where Aperitivo once was. Aperitivo abruptly folded in mid-March when lease negotiations failed.
Owners Armondo Cioccke and Danny Petrosino are aiming for a mid-May debut, though the preparations could stretch that further. They don’t plan extensive renovations, and will keep the exposed-brick decor largely unchanged. But they’re adding new furniture, reconfiguring a wall so that the pasta-manufacturing room is visible to diners, and getting rid of the huge pizza oven in the front kitchen.
The Grano menu won’t include any pizzas. Instead, it will feature classic and/or creative Italian preparations of ingredients that are as fresh and local as possible, which Petrosino noted is the preference in Italy as well.
Fresh pasta will figure prominently in the menu at Grano — which means “wheat” or “grain” in Italian. The partners plan to use a variety of flours, from wheat to whole wheat to assorted ancient grains. On separate machinery away from the wheat pasta, they’ll make gluten-free pasta from rice flour and possible chick pea flour.
The restaurant's website is live at GranoSchenectady.com.
In Saratoga Springs, Petrosino operates Osteria Danny, where the food is treated reverently but not solemnly — there’s fun and experimentation on the menu, which changes as often as every day.
“We see something, we try it,” Petrosino said.
If the diners like it, it returns on the menu the next day, and maybe weeks to come.
Grano will be a homecoming of sorts for Petrosino, an Amsterdam native.
“I started in Schenectady,” he said. Long-time Schenectadians will remember his restaurant The Executive Suite a few blocks away.
Cioccke, a Schenectady native, previously was the chef at Cornell’s and since 2015 has been owner/executive chef at Armondo’s Villa Tuscan Grill in Rotterdam.
Grano will be his first collaboration.
“I’ve always been an admirer of his work,” he said of Petrosino. “He refuses to plateau.”
Cioccke sees the new restaurant as much a learning experience as a business venture, and plans to spend the majority of his time there. He can do that, he said, because some of the staff at Armondo’s has been with him for a decade and the line chefs are fully in sync with him and his culinary vision.
The biggest compliment I get on a consistent basis is when guests say they can’t tell if I’m in the kitchen,” he said. “Consistency is the key word.”
Consistency, he said, is the way to build a restaurant to a dining destination.