Arken Elhicheri, a veteran restaurateur who has owned or managed several area establishments dating back to the French restaurant Tartine’s in the late nineties (and more recently, Bolt Bistro in downtown Raleigh), has opened Garibaldi Trattoria in the former Daniel’s on Main building in Fuquay-Varina. Elhicheri has given the dining room a makeover with a more open look and a warmly inviting tone set by colorful impressionist paintings of Venice and Naples on sunset yellow walls.
Elhicheri hired chef Robert Sumber, whom he met while working at Gianni & Gaitano’s, to develop an ambitious menu that covers the traditional Italian spectrum from house-made gnocchi Bolognese to zuppa di pesce. The chef occasionally shows his creative side with the likes of costoletta di Carolina: pan-seared double-cut pork chop, caramelized pears and gorgonzola cheese with a cider reduction and roasted rosemary potatoes gratin.
The offering includes plenty of casual options, too, from home-style lasagna to New York style pizza, and a weekday lunchtime selection of sandwiches and flatbreads.
While the menu is, as the owner puts it, “95 percent Italian,” you’ll also find a handful of French dishes such as tournedos and crème brûlée “because I’m half Italian, half French, and I grew up in France.” The restaurant’s name is a tribute to the French-born Italian general who played a key role in the formation of the modern nation of Italy.
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Garibaldi Trattoria (900 N. Main St.; 919-552-8868) is open for lunch and dinner daily. The website isn’t up yet, but you can find them on Facebook at facebook.com/Garibalditrattoria/info.