The new version, officially called Chow Morso Osteria, takes over the corner space most recently occupied by the Squeaky Bean (which closed a year ago). Fletter says the basic theme of the Avanti food counter will carry over to the osteria, but with more space to explore the food and wine of Italy. "We get to broaden the menu here," he explains. "Over there, we were maxed out. We were making everything in that shipping container."
The menu comprises favorites from Avanti, including the gnocco fritto, puffy pillows topped with paper-thin salumi; the arancini, fried risotto balls oozing with fontina; and fried calamari. Flatbread sandwiches called piadini will also carry over, but the pasta menu will be greatly expanded and there will be a few larger entrees, including a flatiron steak, Alamosa striped bass and breaded chicken with lemon butter.
Barolo Grill is known for its upscale, creative takes on Italian cuisine, but Fletter says Chow Morso will give regulars a chance to partake in more rustic classics like spaghetti carbonara (which Barolo Grill will make on request, but doesn't offer on its regular menu), caccio e pepe, linguine alla vongole, spaghetti puttanesca and slow-cooked Bolognese over tagliatelle.
Chow Morso Osteria will give Fletter and Truett the opportunity to tap into a new customer base downtown. "We're lucky on this corner, because you see a little bit of everyone," he points out. Two Italian scooters parked out front (which Fletter and Chow Morso's general manager ride to work every morning) hint at the casual, breezy style of the space, transformed from the darker, closer digs of the Squeaky Bean. Whites, blues and burgundies, illuminated by light fixtures that mimic pasta shapes, give the bar and dining room an almost coastal feel. And a coffee station up front, backed by the Bean's vintage Bevador cooler (which will eventually be filled with Italian bottled drinks and snacks), give daytime passersby something to stop in for.
Chow Morso Osteria will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, transitioning to happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and dinner every night but Sunday. The original Chow Morso will close inside Avanti Food & Beverage on September 30.
Update — September 6, 2018: Chow Morso has pushed its opening date to Thursday, September 13, 2018.