Original Halibut’s fish and chips shop on Alberta closed its doors in July and Enzo Lanzadoro, owner of Enzo’s Caffee Italiano next door at 2529 N.E. Alberta St., will open an inexpensive, casual restaurant in the newly vacant space – called Forged – with an emphasis on small plates and fresh, grilled-to-order meats.
While Enzo’s Caffee Italiano is a special-occasion destination with a focus on fine Italian dining, Lanzadoro’s new cafe, slated for a “soft” opening in mid-December, will be more of an everyday spot. The prices will be lower, the dishes will come more quickly, the ambiance will be more casual and the counter service will be ala carte.
“In Italian, we say ‘Dimezzi,’” said Lanzadoro. “It means that the portions will be split, or divided, with small plates – like antipasti, or tapas. Everything will be fresh and everything will be good. Good, clean food. We’ll cook it when you order it and we’ll bring it to your table fast.”
All cooking will be done with a 14-foot fireplace that Lanzadoro is installing in the back of the shop. In addition to using cast-iron kettles for the minestrones and gravies, Lanzadoro is making a special trip to Vietnam, shortly before Forged’s opening, to procure a special type of wood-fired clay pot that will intensify the flavors of the fire-forged food.
Specials will include a meter-long, German-style sausage for tables to share, and a rotisserie barbecued chicken in the French Grenoble style. Meats will be custom-seasoned, cooked-to-order and, according to Lanzadoro, will fly from grill to the table.
“I want it to be an active place and I don’t want to have a huge menu,” said Lanzadoro. “Just quite a few, very nice things. We’ll use, local, grass-fed meats. Not processed. Of course, we’ll have beef, but we’ll also have buffalo, venison and other meats, served in chunks.”
Forged will offer a full bar – in the front of the room so guests can watch the street – with specialty cocktails, six to eight local beers on tap and a short wine list.
“Very short,” said Lanzadoro. “Red. White. Rose. That’s it. Maybe two choices for each.”
Counter service is planned with an optional-gratuity system – and collected tips will be divided equally among the staff. Lanzadoro plans for an iPad on each table to allow guests to add to their orders as they dine, and each table will be “forged” with a number, so that servers can find them quickly.
Forged will open early for breakfast and will stay open throughout lunch and late into the evening.
“We will be open until people go home,” said Lanzadoro.
Once Lanzadoro lights the fire at Forged, he plans to have it burn continuously.
“Once the fire is lit, it will never go out,” he said. “Not for a long as the restaurant is in business. I’d like to invite my friends at the fire department to come out for our fire-lighting ceremony. We don’t know if it’s going to blow up or not!”