The wait is almost over. Tomorrow, Saturday, May 14, chef Gio Osso's highly-anticipated Nico restaurant will open its doors to the public at Heritage Marketplace in downtown Gilbert.
Earlier this week we chatted with the James Beard award-nominated chef about his hopes and aspirations for his sophomore effort. But with just a day to go before the opening, Osso invited us back to get a sneak peek at the final preparations and check out a handful of dishes from the opening menu.
True to his statement — "As a creative person ... [I] can never settle on one thing" — the chef's already tweaked the menu since our last visit. The current edition includes a section of crudo, or plates of raw seafood, that aren't found at his first restaurant, Virtu.
"That's something we're going to specialize in here," Osso says, presenting a plate of beef tartare. Served over a generous schmear of porcini mushroom mousse, the dish delivers a hearty boost of umami flavor.
Other features will include a monthly cheese plate. To start, Nico will offer a plate of bleu cheeses from all over the world with plans to feature different varieties of cheese in upcoming months. Osso hopes the single variety boards will serve as an educational opportunity for diners allowing them to taste, for example, a triple-cream Brie from France next to a Taleggio from Italy.
As for the restaurant's design, look for personal touches including family photos of Osso and his wife and children. The restaurant also includes small touches that tie the restaurant to its sister spot, including a section of houndstooth fabric on the ceiling that mirrors the houndstooth-etched glass at Virtu.
The restaurant also offers a full bar with two large-screen televisions (though Osso says they'll never have the sound on for games) and a spacious patio overlooking Gilbert Road and the downtown scene.
For more photos of Nico in downtown Gilbert, including a look inside the kitchen and a preview of several dishes, check out our photo slideshow.
For more information about the restaurant, visit the Nico website.