Local fooditarians who keep a culinary Who's Who in their heads surely remember Patrick Boll as the right hand man to James Beard Award-winner Robert McGrath at Roaring Fork in its heyday. Boll eventually left his longtime mentor to take chef gigs at Il Vinaio, El Chorro and the now defunct Spotted Donkey II (where, ironically, he was succeeded by McGrath himself). He's been out of the kitchen for a couple of years now but has recently resurfaced -- with friend Jason Raducha (who recently launched a micro-bakery through Kickstarter) -- at downtown's Squash Blossom, a breakfast and lunch spot that opened this summer in the former Pasta Bar space.
Boll and Raducha are operating what they call a "permanent pop-up" (it's more like a restaurant within a restaurant), which they've dubbed the P. Joseph Project because Joseph is Boll's middle name. And this Friday night, they're holding their Grand Opening to coincide with First Friday. Here's the skinny.
The two, who call themselves "culinary junkies," opened P. Joseph Project last week, and to hear their Facebook friends tell it, the place is destined for long-term success. For now, Boll and Raducha are keeping their food-purveying day jobs (Boll works for Sterling Meats, Raducha for Nicola Imports), which is how their paths crossed in the first place.
Raducha -- who seems to have a penchant for names -- also calls their passion project a "culinary social club" (if you're paying attention, you've already noticed that EVERYTHING is "social" these days, including happy hour), which, according to their FB page, means a place for "other culinary junkies to share their passion for food."
The menu, which focuses on upscale comfort food, includes short rib nachos, the "Meaty" loaf sandwich (made with pork, beef and lamb, pickled tomato relish and cheddar cheese), the "Side-Car" burger (aged white cheddar, black pepper bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle)" and a Philly-Less" Cheesesteak composed of sliced, chopped ribeye, caramelized onion and provolone.
Given their backgrounds, it's not surprising that the pair are sourcing great ingredients such as sustainably raised beef, pork and lamb from Niman Ranch, local veggies bought at farmer's markets and Raducha's bread recipe baked by an un-named local baker.
Because Boll and Raducha are using Squash Blossom's space, they can also take advantage of the restaurant's liquor license and bar. Pure genius. We can surely expect to see more economical, win-win partnerships such as this one popping up around town.
Raducha says P. Joseph Project is a work in progress, promising family-style suppers on Sunday nights, and random, to-be-announced-on-Facebook pizza nights, courtesy of Raducha's portable wood-burning oven. Friday and Saturday nights, the two will turn out "heavy specials," meaning whole-roasted pig or whatever else strikes their fancy.
That will include wine dinners and other events in which part of the proceeds are set aside for charity and culinary scholarships. They intend to keep the focus "not entirely for profit," and to that end they're currently featuring Cans for a Cause, a program featuring can-only beer. Money from the recycled cans will be donated to Streetlight and Dignity House. Could there be a better excuse to drink copious amounts of beer?
Meanwhile, friendly vendors have stepped up to help out. Berry Brothers, for example, has donated firewood.
By the way, the friends and partners have been making their own ice cream -- called Noble Ice Cream -- for almost a year and a half now, selling it to local resorts and restaurants such as The Parlor and The Main Ingredient. The flavor I can't wait to try? Cannoli crunch, which involves ricotta ice cream, crumbled cannoli shells (imported from Italy and hand-dipped in Belgian chocolate) and crushed pistachios. Yum!
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P. Joseph Project is open Wednesday through Sunday nights, staying open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Check out their Facebook page at ThePJoeProject.