Sometime next month, Piccolo Forno owner Domenic Branduzzi hopes to start the build out for Grapparia, a wine bar and grappa destination behind his Lawrenceville restaurant.
"I wanted to have a space where my customers can hang out while they're waiting for a table," he said. Piccolo Forno will remain BYOB.
His landlord at Piccolo Forno suggested the space, in conjunction with the relocation of Jeffrey Smith Salon to Bryant Street in Highland Park.
The inspiration for the name, said Mr. Branduzzi, "is an inside thing with my dad. He wasn't much of a drinker, but he loved grappa."
Originally from the Tuscany region, his father Antonio died in 2007. "When he still lived in Italy, he and his friends had a little shack where they'd get away to drink some."
Grappa is not for beginners. The fiery, clear booze is made from grape skins, seeds and pulp, remnants from wine making in the press. It often starts as a sipper and ends up a shot.
The late R.W. Apple, Jr. cited its use as "a form of central heating" by peasants in Northern Italy. "A shot in the breakfast espresso -- yielding a 'corretto' or corrected coffee -- got the motor started in the morning gloom."
Mr. Branduzzi said he'll also serve wines by the glass and the bottle, amari, Italian-inspired cocktails and Italian microbrews. The 800-square-foot bar will seat 30 to 35 guests.
He said he hopes to open before the year's end, but with buildouts and the permit process far from predictable, we'll have to wait and see.
Speaking of waiting, Mr. Branduzzi said plans for ARDE on the North Side are on hold as the project developers "navigate issues with the city," he said.
The wood fired oven at Piccolo Forno. Post-Gazette photo