Pomodoro East, the much-anticipated collaboration between chefs Willy Thomas and Joe Shaw, opened its doors quietly in mid-April, bringing East Nashville its first fine-dining spot devoted to Italian cuisine.
Thomas, along with wife Yvette, already owns two popular restaurants: Park Cafe and its East Nashville sister, Eastland Cafe. Shaw is a chef and manager with decades of experience, a veteran of legendary chef Frank Stitt’s operations in Birmingham, Ala., including Stitt’s Italian outpost, Bottega. Shaw came to Nashville to be the first chef at Watermark, and also made his mark at Miro District and The Standard. (He even helped out briefly last year at the venerable Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village — the guy’s flexible.)
Pomodoro East fills the former Cooper’s on Porter space at 701 Porter Road. Shaw, who lives in the neighborhood, said the goal was dual: to create a place with high standards for ingredients, preparation and service that’s also a relaxing neighborhood spot.
Another big emphasis is the farm-to-table philosophy, with fresh ingredients — local whenever possible — and a seasonal menu.
When the team remade the building’s interior, they added a wood-burning oven, which Shaw uses to bake pizzas and pasta dishes such as mussels al forno, fresh mussels in a broth of white wine and garlic.
Pizzas are topped with elevated combos such as artichoke-and-goat cheese; smoked salmon and mascarpone; and lamb sausage with fennel, tomato and arugula.
Another change to the interior is a wide-open kitchen. You may see Shaw — tall, broad-shouldered and gray-ponytailed — striding between the front and the back delivering dishes to tables.
The menu sports some classic appetizers like carpaccio and calamari, the aforementioned pizzas and entrees like the oddly named but hearty stinco de mailale (braised pork shank with Mediterranean potato salad and gremolata).
And there are multiple price points: pastas come in half or full portions ($8-$13 for the former, $15-$22 for the latter). Pizzas are $9-$12, and the primi piatti (entrees) are $15 to $26, except for the previously promised “big fat steak”: a strapping, 18-ounce roasted porterhouse with mushrooms for 32 bucks.
Pomodoro East serves dinner nightly; there’s a full bar with beer, cocktails and a wine list emphasizing Italian vintages.
Meanwhile, two other high-profile restaurants previewed in this column have opened in the past couple weeks. Urban Grub opened in late April, finally giving folks a close-up look at the striking restaurant space on the 12South corridor, full of unique niches and multiple patios. Jay Pennington and William Inman are the owners, and Deb Paquette helped develop the menu, with Edgar Pendley manning the kitchen as executive chef. Wood-fired lobster pizza appears to be an early favorite among diners. Urban Grub is at 2506 12th Ave. S. (679-9342).
Downtown on Third Avenue South, at the base of the Pinnacle tower, restaurateur Tom Morales’ project The Southern is now in full swing after three weeks in business. The Southern is open seven days a week, and we hear there’s been a lively response to lunch and dinner, but people haven’t yet figured out one of the more novel contributions to the SoBro scene: weekday breakfast. The Southern is at 150 Third Ave. S. (724-1762).
West Nashville, more specifically the neighborhood north of Charlotte Pike known as The Nations, is getting an intriguing new pub and music venue. As my Nashville Scene colleague D. Patrick Rodgers reports, it’s called The Stone Fox, and it’s the labor of love of a team that includes guitarist William Tyler (Lambchop, Silver Jews) and his sister Elise Tyler, who’s an entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The Stone Fox is going into a 100-year-old house at 712 51st Ave N., which was converted to a bar decades ago. (Among its former incarnations: Len’s Den, Area 51 and Grandpaw Too’s.)
Elise Tyler promised a small menu of “simple food ... fresh, delicious, and creative.” The music side will accommodate about 200 folks, and in addition to a couple shows a week with local and touring acts, she hopes to host other entertainment like karaoke, trivia and movie and DJ nights. The drinks list will be diverse, with libations to please fans of both dive-bar suds and artisan cocktails.
“We want The Stone Fox to be a happy, safe place for friends and the community to gather, a modern-day pub,” she said. Opening is planned for early July.