Spuntino closes for a renovation and will reopen later this week

Back in December, we broke the news that Spuntino, chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom's neighborhood restaurant in Highland -- a restaurant that turns out everything from unassailable gelato to equally unparalleled porchetta -- would temporarily shutter sometime this February to undergo a significant renovation. Timing, of course, is relative, and Broening and Hissom stretched the planned closing a few more months, locking the doors yesterday after Mother's Day brunch.

See also: - Spuntino will undergo a remodel, expand its menu and pursue a full liquor license - 100 Favorite Dishes: chocolate caramel sea salt tart from Spuntino - Our favorite local culinary gifts of 2012: Spuntino's hot chocolate mix and salted caramel marshmallows

The renovation, which will enlist the talents of local design firm Fin Art, the same company that handcrafted much of the furniture and furnishings at Old Major, Central Bistro & Bar and Linger, will, for one thing, result in the disposal of the gelato case that currently greets guests near the front counter with its bright, kaleidoscopic hues.

And while the impassioned entourage of Lozada-Hissom's gelato will still be able to indulge -- after all, Spuntino boasts the "Rolls Royce" of gelato makers -- the case will be knocked out in order to create a sculptured metal bar that overlooks the open kitchen, a kitchen that parades a small menu that will grow to include more savory dishes: think "big Mediterranean flavors," housemade pastas and salumi -- as well as whimsical confections that include tarts, passion fruit mousse with honey-lime syrup and pink peppercorn meringue. "We're both going to go nuts in terms of creativity," says Lozada-Hissom. And the bar program, which has always been limited to wine, will also flourish in innovation.

In fact, when Spuntino reopens -- Saturday, May 18 is the target date -- the wine program will be significantly larger and a full liquor license will also allow the betrothed couple to pour craft beers and concoct inspired cocktails from a spirits syllabus that leans toward local distilleries.

Other changes will incorporate planked hardwood floors throughout the long, narrow space, walls textured with paper hued pewter and a more open floor plan, thanks to the elimination of a wall that separates the group gathering room in the rear from the main dining room, where tables face the streetscape on one side and banquettes flank the wall on the side that faces the kitchen.

"We mainly want to create and environment and a menu that's welcoming and unpretentious," Lozada-Hissom told me, when I interviewed her months ago. "This will be a full-service restaurant, where people will be able to come in and sit at the bar and comfortably grab lunch, and at night have cocktails and then dinner."

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