Storico Fresco has always been a hidden gem—not because it’s underappreciated, but it’s literally been underground. It started as a pasta-making operation in executive chef Michael Patrick’s basement, then graduated to a small handmade pasta shop in a basement in Buckhead before becoming the current Italian restaurant and market that sits in the lower-level of a building on Grandview Avenue. Now, Patrick and partners Pietro Gianni and Steve Peterson are preparing to open their second restaurant, a Roman concept called Forza Storico, located in—where else—the basement of the Westside Provisions District.
The space is unrecognizable as the former home Anne Quatrano’s Little Bacch, which closed in 2016. Westside Provisions District owner Jamestown Properties—hoping to spruce up the lower level underneath Zeb Stevenson’s Redbird—partnered with the Storico team to renovate the space, according to Gianni, adding floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the train tracks and new staircases leading down to the restaurant.
“We applied everything really great about Storico and amplified it,” Gianni says. “We want to give the feeling of Italy; the old cantinas and wine shops that turn into restaurants [in the evenings] with simple, sharable foods.”
“It’s where the real Italians hang out. There are no white tablecloths,” Patrick adds.
The space is now light, bright, and airy, dotted with wood tables and stools. A dark wood bar in the center seats 30—as opposed to Storico Fresco’s 12. Like the original restaurant, Forza features a table in the kitchen where lucky diners can watch the action as they indulge. Adorning the brick-and-concrete walls are graffiti-style murals of the “SuperPope,” a replica of Roman street art endorsed by the Pope.
“It’s art that has been painted over in Rome. We’re bringing it back just like we brought back historic pastas at Storico,” Patrick explains.
Forza Storico will offer 30 types of Italian beer. “We’ll match profiles for what people are looking for,” Peterson says. “If you want a [Sweetwater] 420, we’ll have something for that.”
The wine list will be 90 percent sourced from South and Central Italy. A great deal of attention will be put into serving each glass at the appropriate temperature. All the bottles will be vacuum-sealed each night, allowing for most of the offerings to be available by the glass.
“We’re [trying] to reflect our demographic, which is predominately female,” Gianni says. “The drinks will be lighter, fresher. I call it a pregame spot for girls’ night out.”
Jose Pereiro will craft “true Italian” cocktails like negronis and spritzes. They will fall into three categories: aperitivos, cocktails, and digestivos. Ingredients will focus on campari, aperol, gin, prosecco, amaro, and cynar.
Patrick will serve as executive chef and Riccardo Navas as chef de cuisine, overseeing both Storico kitchens. At Forza, the dishes will use the same pasta noodles with different sauces. Ninety percent of the menu will be unique to Forza.
“Classic Roman all-stars take the central place on the menu,” Patrick says. “There’s carbonara, cacio e pepe, amatriciana (pig cheek-based tomato sauce), gricia guanciale (pig cheek), and coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail).”
Entrees include guinea hen and quail cooked on the rotisserie or braised. Antipasti skew more traditional and might overlap some of the Storico Fresco offerings, such as fried squash blossoms, fried artichoke, and fried cod.
Nearly everything will be made in-house—including cured meats—or imported from Italy. When the restaurant opens, it will serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch service may come after the winter holidays.
In need of dry goods or pastas? Head to Storico Fresco, as Forza Storico will not have a retail component.
“This is a Roman beer and wine bar, not an alimentari,” Patrick says.