Chow Bella

Noca Re-Opens with New Look, New Breads and New Cocktail Program

See also: Noca Owner Eliot Wexler on Chef Claudio Urciuoli See also: Windsor and Churn: Behind the Design Scenes with Craig DeMarco, Lauren Baily and Daniel Germani

What a difference a month makes! Owner Eliot Wexler closed Noca for summer hiatus the first of July. And today, he re-opens with a brand new space. Well, almost.

Yes, the floor plan, the open kitchen, the banquettes and the mirrors remain the same, but the narrow room has a moodier, sexier, more polished look, thanks to local architect Daniel Germani, who pulled everything together -- on a tight budget -- in just three weeks.

Wexler thanks his lucky stars that Lauren Bailey and Craig DeMarco of Windsor, Churn and Postino introduced him to Germani -- who designed Windsor and Churn and updated Postino Central.

"Lauren and Craig actually know a lot about design, but I knew nothing," Wexler says, admitting his sense of relief that Germani seemed to instantly grasp what Noca is all about. He entrusted the architect with the entire project.

"Now the restaurant matches the caliber of the food. The two fit," Germani says. Wexler says that he and Germani aren't finished yet. They'll be adding art work and a few other interesting touches to create more warmth and personality. Wexler would be the first to admit that the room was too stark before.

While Wexler was looking at paint swatches, his chef Claudio Urciuoli -- a Slow Food enthusiast who favors the artisan products of his homeland -- took a month-long trip back to Italy to stock Noca's pantry. "Nobody in town has a larder like we do," Wexler boasts.

Urciuoli already has been noodling around with breads, using Hayden Flour Mills flour to make a chewy, rustic focaccia that blows the fluffy, white bread-like focaccia we're all accustomed to completely away. Wait and see.

Over the summer, Wexler also connected with mixologist Jason Asher of Young's Market Company, who worked with Noca bartender Abby Martinie to create a selection of brand new cocktails for the restaurant. They should be rolled out by early next week.

We can also expect some cocktail pairing dinners in the future.

So today is the day. Nocawich is back in action for lunch. Dinner begins tonight. Tuesday still means the patty melt and Wednesday features the lobster roll.

Although Noca won't offer Sunday Simple Supper this coming Sunday, it will be back in place the following week. Wexler says the dinners will be less themed in the future. "We got a little too cute there for a while."

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Nikki Buchanan