One of the highest profile restaurant closings of 2020 is leading to a new beginning.
Bellecour, Gavin Kaysen's shuttered French restaurant in Wayzata, will be reborn this spring as Josefina, an Italian restaurant from a team that includes chef and restaurateur Daniel del Prado.
The menu will be inspired by the cuisine of Rome. "It's Italian, but we're trying to focus on the region," del Prado said. "It's pork heavy. Amatriciana is from Rome. Cacio e Pepe is from Rome. Rice fritters. We're doing our interpretation of salt cod fritters. But heavy on pasta, heavy on vegetable sides, and pizza."
Pizza, in fact, will be a focus of the connected former Bellecour bakery, which will utilize a takeout window to distribute round Roman pies as the offshoot Pizza Fina.
Del Prado and business partner Aaron Switz teamed up with chef Steve McMullen, who was the opening chef de cuisine at Burch Steak and Pizza Bar under del Prado, who was executive chef.
McMullen had since moved to New York, but when the pandemic brought him home, he reconnected with del Prado.
"I love him," del Prado said. "He is great."
This is a busy time for del Prado, whose restaurants include Martina and Colita, and the recently opened Argentine-Sicilian pizzeria Rosalia.
The soonest we can expect Josefina to open is sometime this spring.
"It's the best I can do right now," he said. "I'm trying to be more present at the restaurants. I work every day, and I stop by all the restaurants every day. I'm super connected to everything and make all final decisions." But, he emphasized, if the pandemic taught him anything, it's that running a restaurant is a team effort. "It's a whole group of people," he said, that will get Roman-style pizza into the hands of Wayzatans.
Of course, the address — 739 E. Lake St. — is a storied one. In the 1970s, it revolutionized French cuisine in the Twin Cities as Chouette. More recently, it was home to Kaysen's four-star bistro.
"Right away, I called Gavin and I asked for his blessing, out of respect," del Prado said. "These are big shoes. I know people are going to compare it no matter what. I can only do my best."
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853