When his high-profile Brooklyn restaurant closed, Rikki Giambruno knew the time was right to move back to his home state of Minnesota and open his own place.
This summer, Hyacinth (hyacinthstpaul.com) — an ode to his personal history — will take over the space of the former specialty shop Golden Fig (790 Grand Av., St. Paul). Golden Fig (goldenfig.com), meanwhile, has moved next door to a larger space and will debut a new small menu of espresso drinks this summer.
“I want to create an intimate, homey-feeling restaurant serving food inspired by Mediterranean and Italian cuisines,” Giambruno said. “That’s my heritage.”
Giambruno grew up in a Sicilian-American family in Victoria, and has been cooking in New York for the better part of a decade after going to culinary school there. Most recently, he worked his way up to executive chef at the lauded Franny’s, a neighborhood eatery and pizzeria in Brooklyn. When the restaurant closed, Giambruno decided to move back.
When he found the old Golden Fig space, he thought it was intimate with room for no more than 40 banquette seats, enough space for a small bar and a lovely opportunity for an open kitchen. He named it Hyacinth, after the street he grew up on.
“It’s just so beautiful,” Giambruno said of the space. “I want it to feel very much like you’re stepping into someone’s home.”
The menu will be in the style of a traditional trattoria, broken down into antipasti, primi (pasta), secondi (meat and fish) and contorni (sides). Giambruno and chef de cuisine Paul Baker — another Minnesota native who worked with him at Franny’s — will make some pasta in house and also rely on a special dried semolina pasta from Naples.
“It doesn’t jump off the page like making your own pasta does, but it’s pretty unique in the U.S.,” Giambruno said. “It’s really a different thing.”
He’s hoping to have a full bar, license pending, as well as wine and beer, including from Bad Weather Brewing Co., which his brother owns and operates (his brother is also curating the beer list).