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Trattoria Nostrani to close, reopen as a French place, same staff [Santa Fe]

finlero Dec 9, 2012 10:03 AM

Trattoria Nostrani is going to close on 1/1 and reopen a week later as a mid-priced French restaurant. Nelli Maltezos will still be the chef, Eric Stapelman will still be there as well. There are plans for value options including a prix fixe menu and 25 wines priced at $25. Shibumi is staying as-is.

Although I have every confidence the new place will be one of the tip-top chow destinations around town, I'm nonetheless going through a little bit of mourning over the loss of one of the best Italian restaurants I've ever been to, anywhere. Here's hoping they do an occasional Italian night for old times' sake.

  1. n
    ninrn Dec 10, 2012 09:01 AM

    Oh crap. After seeing all your glowing references to this place, I was hoping to visit over the holidays. Are they still operating as Nostrani for a little while longer?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ninrn
      finlero Dec 10, 2012 09:09 AM

      Yep, clear through the end of the month.

      1. re: finlero
        ninrn Dec 11, 2012 12:09 PM

        Just enough time to go see what I've been missing. Thanks, finlero.

    2. fyfas Dec 13, 2012 08:43 AM

      Maybe Eric and Nellie will be feeling nostalgic and rename the place Rociada.

      It was an excellent French restaurant named that when they first opened; believe they had an investor who owned a 400 acre ranch near that town in San Miguel county.

      1. n
        ninrn Dec 13, 2012 04:51 PM

        Any idea why they're doing this change?

        10 Replies
        1. re: ninrn
          finlero Dec 13, 2012 08:01 PM

          I believe they're closing 1/1, reopening about a week later.

          1. re: finlero
            ninrn Dec 14, 2012 11:39 AM

            Was asking why, but it's good to know exactly when, too. Have to try to get there.

            1. re: ninrn
              finlero Dec 14, 2012 05:12 PM

              Ah, gotcha, my mistake. (I was wondering why you were asking that question again...)

              I don't have any inside knowledge, but from what I've heard I'm given to understand that above all else, Nelli and Eric are just tired of the public perception that Nostrani is an expensive, special-occasion-only destination. They're specifically trying to portray the new project as a medium-priced option rather an a high-priced one.

              It also sounds like it's just time for a change, and perhaps a chance for Nelli to get back to her culinary roots. She's fond of saying, "Think about the food I've been cooking -- it's basically French food made with Italian ingredients."

              1. re: finlero
                ninrn Dec 18, 2012 12:16 AM

                Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the whole 'no fragrance' thing is off-putting and may be costing them more business than they realize. Any time I try to talk anyone into going there, this issue comes up and we end up not going, -- not because everyone I know is so highly scented, but because it makes it feel like you'll be scrutinized prior to admission. I think I read somewhere that one of the owners has an extreme sensitivity to smells or something like that, but when you don't know the place or the owners and hear of this policy, it comes off as a bit precious and judgmental.

                1. re: ninrn
                  finlero Dec 18, 2012 08:19 AM

                  Yeah, I know what you mean. That said, I'm a fairly recent SF transplant, and whether Nostrani has a newfound humility in this extended economic slump, or whether people are just hyperbolically, irrationally annoyed at Eric's and the restaurant's quirks (or quite likely some combination of the two), I've never seen any of the cartoonish shenanigans that some people have described.

                  It also doesn't change the fact that the chow is pretty darn good regardless.

                  1. re: finlero
                    ninrn Dec 21, 2012 12:28 PM

                    Yes, people are probably making too much of it. When I called to make a reservation, the young man I spoke to sounded so gloomy and apprehensive while delivering the little spiel about the fragrance policy that it made me think he's taken a lot of heat for it. Anyway, we're all set to go next week. And they tell me they'll be open every single evening from now through New Year's Day, -- even Sundays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Thanks for your posts about this place, Finlero. Can't wait to try it before it morphs.

                    1. re: ninrn
                      finlero Dec 21, 2012 01:35 PM

                      Aw man, now it's all built up.

                      1. re: finlero
                        ninrn Dec 21, 2012 10:14 PM

                        Yep, sure to be a disappointment, and then, of course, I'll blame you.

                  2. re: ninrn
                    tenacity Mar 4, 2013 08:48 AM

                    I've talked with Eric and he DOES have a stupidly sensitive nose - it's not a bad thing as a chef but it can be crippling for him to concentrate when all he can think about is the wafting smells coming from folks' perfumes and such (and they do lay it on heavy in that town).

                    So.... yes he does get testy when his rules are tested, but there's a good reason for it and it's his restaurant(s). His cooking skills are worth experiencing at either spot.

                    1. re: tenacity
                      ninrn Mar 4, 2013 01:54 PM

                      The weird thing, as I wrote in another thread where someone was complaining about the scent policy, is that the smells from their adjacent ramen place are so strong. When we walked into Nostrani, we were almost knocked over with the smell of something like grilled mackerel. If he can't concentrate with somebody's extra splash of aftershave nearby, how does he concentrate with that going on? That's why the policy seems a little sketchy to me.

          2. n
            ninrn Dec 31, 2012 09:43 AM

            Hey Finlero, Finally went to Trattoria Nostrani. No need to worry about having built it up too much, because we really enjoyed it. I love it when I feel like I've learned something about cooking after eating at a restaurant, and I definitely felt that way after eating at Nostrani. We weren't head over heels for every single thing we ordered, but everything was so intelligently complex and flavorful that it was still great fun to eat and think about. I totally get what the chef was saying when she told you she was essentially doing French cooking with Italian ingredients. That's exactly what her food tasted like to me. Maybe this change in format won't be such a big change after all, and will just bring a whole other range of possibilities to the table. Thanks for the great recommendation. Happy new year, Ninrn

            1. fyfas Jan 15, 2013 10:31 AM

              Drove by Trattoria Nostrani earlier and signage says it will be known as Vivre.

              1. bhoward Feb 9, 2013 06:17 PM

                And this just in--as a continuation of the very enlightened and brilliant "fragrance free" policy so successful at Nostrani, French Laundry in Napa Valley has just upped the ante. As of 02/01/13 there is a rule of NO DEODORANT! Sure, the odor of Degree or Secret is subtle but who can take a chance. Thomas Keller (who certainly has nothing on the folks at Vivre!) promises that if this is as successful as he thinks it will be he is going "Brush Free'! You got it--no teeth brushing within three days of a visit. This will not only protect the palate of the diner but will also insure that the closest table doesn't have a meal destroyed by a breathing guest. Yuck! Word is that baking soda is still up in the air.

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