Kelly is no stranger to this part of the country, though. He was born in Fremont, Nebraska, and also lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he first fell in love with restaurant kitchens while working as a busboy at a little place called L'Osteria Mondello. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he eventually made his way to Yountville and Napa in California's wine country, then worked in several prominent Bay Area establishments, including La Folie, Angèle and the Au Bon Repas group, where he was executive chef of culinary operations over five restaurants. Most recently, Kelly was the opening executive chef at Lure + Till.
Kelly describes his cooking style as anchored in local and seasonal ingredients, as evidenced by a new menu rich in fall flavors and produce — cauliflower, turnips, radicchio, Tuscan kale and celery root, to name a few. And, of course, this season also brings Italian and French truffles to Panzano's table; Kelly uses them on several pasta dishes and entrees.
While Kelly brings his own style to Panzano, he's also maintaining certain themes that have made the restaurant distinct: handmade pastas (including a few rarities like tajarin, lumache and cresta del gallo), a good variety of meatless options and a gluten-free menu that has become known as one of the best in town.
Kelly has been adding his own dishes to the menu over the past several weeks to allow his crew to master each plate, but the full menu is now available, including a five-course tasting tour for $65 per person. Here's a look at a few of the new dishes, from antipasti to dessert.