Louisville businessman Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman and Fourth Street Live owner The Cordish Cos. teamed up to create the Italian restaurant and bar. Media was given a sneak peek and taste ahead of its Feb. 29 open.
Executive chef Bruce Mosley started creating the menu for Birracibo (pronounced Beer-A-Key-Bo) in late December, a process that included brainstorming over the phone and testing recipes in the Sports and Social Club’s kitchen next door.
“You get to eat a lot. You get to play around with plate design and how you might want to present something,” Mosley said. “We sit down and say, ‘Hey, if I’m a customer sitting down, would I like this?'”
Prior to getting the job at Birracibo, Mosley spent a year as chef at Junkhouse Gastro Pub in San Diego and worked for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant for 12 years.
When designing the menu, Mosley said he wanted it to reflect the restaurant’s more relaxed atmosphere.
“There are no white table clothes on the table,” he said. “We wanted to keep it casual and fun and fairly straight-forward and simple. The way you do that as a chef is you maximize flavors.”
Ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are full of flavor and make items like spaghetti sauce “pop,” Mosley said, adding that freshness is an important part of the menu.
“People know food a lot more than they used to,” Mosley said. “People can discern a fresh hamburger from a frozen hamburger… I think that has pushed chefs to be that much better and that much more creative.”
One of the hardest menu items to craft was the Neapolitan-style pizza dough, Mosley said. Birracibo uses all the ingredients for a traditional Neapolitan pizza including imported Italian olive oil and fresh yeast, but it doesn’t have a brick oven.
Another key aspect of the menu — which has become almost a requirement for any new restaurant — is the inclusion of some regionally sourced food. Birracibo will feature products from Greenville, Ind-based Capriole, Kuttawa, Ky.-based Broadbent B&B Foods, and Austin, Ky.-based Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese.
The full menu is still subject to change, but it currently features four Italian tacos, six pasta dishes, five salads and a dozen 11-inch pizzas, including one with duck confit and fig jam, another with steak, blue cheese and watercress, and a third with meatballs and mozzarella. Appetizers include truffle fries, fried mozzarella sticks and a trio of meatballs.
Most importantly, the dessert menu features ricotta cheesecake, bread pudding and house-made ice cream.
When it opens, customers can eat at the bar, in the dining room or reserve one of three semi-private dining rooms. The largest seats up to 100 guests and has its own bar.
Parties and events are going to be a big focus for Birracibo, said general manager Bobby Frizzell, but he also wants it to be more than a special occasion restaurant. The average check is expected to be $20 per person.
Opening at 11 a.m. daily, Birracibo will remain open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and until either 1 a.m. or midnight the rest of the week. The restaurant will serve late-night pizzas and keep its charcuterie bar open for customers looking to end their night there.
“You can do the meats and cheese; you can do our marinated olives; you can do the chilled asparagus. You can have that at midnight instead of a plate of nachos,” Frizzell said. “I feel like this is a great place to start the night and end the night.”