New Kids on the Block

Our take on the valley’s newest restaurants.

By Joohee Muromcew

Joshua Governale and Fred Peightal, owners of Cafe Genevieve, opened Orsetto Italian Bar and Eatery, shown, last winter. Photo by Bradly J. Boner

LOCALS GREET NEW restaurants in mountain towns such as Jackson Hole like new recruits to a football team. Everybody cheers, excited by the prospect of fresh talent, hopeful and optimistic for touchdowns and field goals. (To be clear, that exhausted all my knowledge of football.) Jokes aside about newbies to the field, the restaurant business in the valley is not for the hobbyist restaurateur with an ego to feed. Extreme seasonality, sky-high rents, and a constantly shifting workforce make for an unforgiving environment for the hospitality trade—all the more reason locals are deeply grateful and supportive of new ventures.

Jackson saw a flurry of openings in the past twelve months (read about five of our favorites on the following pages), and, not surprisingly, established owners with track records were behind many of them. While not locally owned, Glorietta Trattoria is backed by a team of seasoned hotel, restaurant, design, and retail talent from around the country. One gets the sense that successfully running one year-round restaurant here is an all-consuming, Herculean task, much less opening a second. Fine Dining Restaurant Group and Blue Collar Restaurant Group, both founded by local entrepreneurs, have defied market vagaries and continue to thrive through a careful balance of expert-but-approachable management, dependable consistency, and invigorating change.

The owners of local favorite Cafe Genevieve opened Orsetto Italian Bar and Eatery last year, offering Italian-American comfort food in a cozy setting. Managing partner Fred Peightal explains the straightforward appeal of the venture: “We were interested in the space and its proximity to the Town Square and parking. The opportunity to move into the space came up, and we jumped at the chance to totally redesign [it].” Despite all the work and risk, for restaurant owners passionate about their trade, it sometimes comes down to, “Why not?” Asked if he’d open a third restaurant anytime soon, Peightal strikes a typical entrepreneurial tone: “I don’t think a third is going to happen anytime soon, but never say never.”

Glorietta Trattoria

Glorietta occupies the former Nani’s space, a decades-old stalwart of simple Italian fare, but make no mistake, the space and cuisine have been completely transformed along with its partner hotel, The Anvil. A central bar commands the open, hearth-warmed dining space and creates a convivial, unpretentious atmosphere. Wood-fired oven techniques inform much of the rustic Italian menu. A sizzling cast-iron skillet of cauliflower roasted with lemon, sea salt, mint, and almonds sets the tone for hearty pasta and meat courses to follow. The roasted half or whole rabbit often sells out, though the duck would be a worthy stand-in. Try the grilled wild mushrooms, satisfyingly salty and earthy, to share, and definitely order a plate of the excellent house-made giardiniera for refreshing bites of marinated cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, and celery to cleanse your palate now awash with umami. Glorietta is the kind of place where you can drop in at the bar for drinks along with a bite or two. The specialty cocktail menu, curated by the folks behind New York’s Death and Co., is almost as fun to read as imbibe. Lighter spritzers share space with darker, moody concoctions like the “Sticks and Stones,” a heavyweight made with Drambuie and Scotch. The creative, approachable wine list spans across all regions, with an expected Italian predominance—and is delightfully reasonable in pricing—as well as the added benefit that all wines are available for purchase to go.

Orsetto Italian Bar and Eatery

Orsetto, from the owners of Cafe Genevieve and Genevieve Catering, brings a welcome panache to the corner of Center and Deloney Streets, set back half a block from Town Square. Its dapper bear welcomes diners for homey, classic Italian-American fare. “We knew we wanted to do an Italian restaurant, because it’s the kind of food you want to eat when it’s winter for nine months,” explains the aforementioned Peightal. Orsetto is the kind of Italian food most of us grew up with—hearty bolognese sauces, eggplant parmesan, and veal marsala—but refined for a sophisticated, grown-up audience. The bruschetta are generously portioned and perfect to share before a more substantial pasta or secondi course. Order the chicken liver bruschetta for the table, a Tuscan classic, laced with balsamic shallots. Follow it with the little gem Caesar salad, briny with fresh anchovies and a little heat in its Calabrian chili dressing. Rigatoni with vodka sauce and the chicken cacciatore would make fine second and third courses, all accompanied by a fun all-Italian wine list. The wines offered by the glass are scattered across varietals and price, encouraging course pairings and some reasonable splurging. Treat yourself, as the kids say, to a glass of the Guidalberto Tenuta San Guido with the Steak Diane.

Moe’s Original Bar B Que

Reading the backstory on Moe’s BBQ makes you want to grab the three founders and give them all a bear hug and a high five. They learned to smoke meats while undergraduates at the University of Alabama under the tutelage of Tuscaloosa barbecue legend Moses Day. (By the way, that would be enough information for a lot of Southern folk to drop this magazine and immediately drive over to Moe’s.) Jeff Kennedy, Ben Gilbert, and Mike Fernandez started their first barbecue business in Vail, Colorado, with an old diesel barrel sawed in half. Fifteen years later, with more than fifty locations across the country, they partnered with local Tom Fay of Pinky G’s Pizzeria to bring Moe’s to Jackson Hole. Moe’s fans will recognize most of the Jackson menu, but every Moe’s location is slightly different, allowing each “friendchise” owner to cater to its local market. Moe’s is decidedly Southern, a “Southern soul food revival,” as its website claims, and the menu is pegged with classics like crispy fried pickles, fried catfish, and banana pudding. Nevertheless, the smoked meats are the stars here, with pulled pork, smoked turkey, and ribs taking center stage, served with Moe’s signature white barbecue sauce. Regulars swear by Moe’s take-home and catering menus to feed crowds for Super Bowl and ski team dinners. Carry out a couple of whole smoked chickens and a pan of mac and cheese for Moe’s take on après-ski.

Big Hole BBQ

Devoted fans of Big Hole’s original location in Victor, Idaho, no longer have to find excuses to drive over Teton Pass for Nick and Lindsey Jacob’s homegrown barbecue. They opened a second location in Jackson, and it elicited collective elation across the valley. Try the smoked brisket and pulled pork on your first visit, served with Nick’s secret barbecue sauce, but go back for outstanding Carter Country burgers served on 460 Bread’s brioche buns, or for Big Hole’s surprisingly good tacos. There is a certain genius in smoked brisket tacos topped with tangy slaw and that secret sauce, and also in the cultural mash-up of their loaded fries, blanketed with house-made onions, cheese sauce, jalapenos, brisket, green onions, and barbecue sauce. It’s like a messy love triangle between barbecue, nachos, and poutine. I even recommend Big Hole to vegetarians or wannabe vegetarians who eschew typical barbecue fare. Have the shamelessly rich and addictive macaroni and cheese. It’s the perfect foil for the mahi mahi or shrimp tacos, just smoky enough off the grill and topped with slaw and firecracker sauce. There’s no shame in ordering salads at Big Hole, especially the crunchy cabbage salad with honey-sesame dressing. You can order it with brisket on top.

Palate

From the husband-and-wife team behind Gather in downtown Jackson, Palate is a total revision of what was previously the Rising Sage Cafe at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Mostly open for lunch, with occasional wine-centered dinners, the menu is equal parts Jackson Hole rustic and ladies’ luncheon elegant. Redbird chicken wings with chicharron and black pepper glaze share space on the starters section, with smoked trout served with Pommes Anna, sorrels, and caraway cream. A BLT is elevated and redefined with pork belly, tomato jam, caper-lemon aioli, sunflower pesto, and juustoleipa, a Finnish cheese. Try the bison gyro, a Jackson take on the classic Greek lamb sandwich, with whipped feta cheese and zucchini baba ghanoush, and wrapped in Indian fry bread. They used to say beware of restaurants with good views because the food can play a lazy second to the vistas. Not the case at Palate, where the fare can certainly stand on its own and is worth a drive out to the museum just for lunch. Now, whether the art on the walls can compete with the art of our landscape, that can be discussed over lunch with a glass of wine!

Christian Bustamante and Troy Furuta get to work in the kitchen at Glorietta Trattoria, one of two Italian restaurants recently opened in Jackson. Photo by Ashley Cooper

Chef de Cuisine Chas Baki spent a couple of years downtown at Gather before moving to Palate. Photo by Ryan Dorgan

The popular Victor, Idaho, eatery Big Hole BBQ opened a location in Jackson on Pearl Avenue across from Jackson Hole Twin Cinema. Photo by Bradly J. Boner

| Posted in JH Living
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