James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Smith will relocate his namesake restaurant, reopening in a new space with a new name.
Smith and his wife, Nancy, opened the restaurant Michael Smith at 1900 Main St. in 2007. Now it will move west to a 5,500-square-foot space at 1901 Baltimore Ave. A Michael Smith investor recently purchased the former Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art & Design building.
Michael Smith will continue to operate until the new space opens as Farina by Michael Smith in late November or early December.
It will serve a menu Smith introduced in mid-2017 for the restaurant’s 10th anniversary — antipasti, fish, chops, seasonal sides and desserts. The couple chose the name Farina — Italian for flour — to showcase their handcrafted pastas including duck ragu gnocchi, buckwheat sagnarelli, mushroom and cheese tortellini and black truffle linguini. It also will have a wood-burning grill.
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“The Italian changeover is working, people are responding really well and we wanted to make the space look more Italian,” Michael Smith said. “We love our spaces that we have right now. But instead of remodeling the (Michael Smith) space, putting more money into a place we don’t own, we have a chance of ownership in the new building.”
Farina will seat 90 people. It will have a small cocktail bar, a fresh oyster bar and a private event space seating 25 people. Helix Architecture + Design plans a decor of “rustic elegance” with natural light, stone, wood and wide-planked floors.
Smith will be the executive chef and partner. Nancy Smith will serve as general manager, wine director and partner. Alberto “Berto” Santoro will oversee beverage operations at Farina and sister restaurant Extra Virgin, which opened next door to Michael Smith in 2007.
After the Michael Smith restaurant closes the space will be used for private events. The couple had remodeled the former Zin restaurant space for Michael Smith, but with Extra Virgin they did the build-out from the ground up to fit the concept, just like they will do for Farina.
Haw/Contemporary in the West Bottoms will take a 2,000-square-foot space in the building for a second location, scheduled to open in March. It will have Extra Virgin on one side, Farina on the other.
“A gallery build-out is a lot less complicated than a restaurant build-out — beautiful walls, new floor and track (lighting) on the ceiling. That’s pretty much all you need,” said Bill Haw Jr. “It’s really going to be a great little corner.”
More than two decades ago, John O’Brien opened Dolphin gallery in the 1901 Baltimore building.