It's been less than two years since well-known Valley chef Claudio Urciuoli opened the oven-focused Noble Eatery along with with baker and Noble Bread partner Jason Raducha. In that short time, the duo turned the former Stanley's Sausage Building into one of the Valley's hottest lunch destinations. But several weeks ago, the chef left the helm of the eatery's tiny kitchen.
"I want to make a change," Urciuoli says. "You know, it's been four years."
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That's four years since Urciuoli joined forces with Raducha to become the local biggest name in bread. The pair teamed up under the Noble Bread name, which Raducha had already launched, in 2013, bringing stone-ground heritage grains and making naturally leavened bread for Valley diners at local farmers markets and select restaurants. By 2014, they were baking hundreds of loaves a week out of Raducha's garage, until finally moving into the bakery's current location on McDowell Road. Noble Eatery opened later, in the front of the bakery space, serving a daily rotating menu of bread- and grain-focused fare.
Now, Urciuoli's left to partner with Omar Alvarez of Tortas Paquime. Though there's not yet a name or location for the new restaurant, the chef says you can expect there to be a wood-burning element — either a grill or an oven — and inspiration from South American and Spanish cuisine. Urciuoli says he'll stay true to his signature style, which includes sourcing top-quality ingredients, adding that the concept will not be a fine-dining restaurant like the defunct Noca, where Urciuoli spent time as executive chef before deciding to focus on baking.
But don't think the chef's departure means the end of Noble Eatery. Raducha says chef Zach Flynn has taken the lead and that the menu will remain the same. Flynn has spent the last year or so working alongside Urciuoli at Noble Eatery, though his history with the chef goes back to when Urciuoli headed up Chris Bianco's Italian Restaurant (now a second location of Pizzeria Bianco at Town & Country shopping center in Phoenix).
"He's a good guy," Urciuoli says of Flynn. "He's the right person to keep doing what Noble [Eatery] wants to do."