By Nicole Romanoff / Photos by Christine Johnson Photography
Two Phoenix restaurants have come together in a unique “space share” concept that gives food lovers two dining experiences in one location. The idea is a collaboration between chef Jennifer Russo of the Market Restaurant + Bar and chef David Duarte of Finestre Modern Gastronomy.
Russo opened the Market in 2014 as an extension of Jennifer’s Catering, but to keep up with the demands of the catering business, the space sat empty Sunday through Tuesday. So, when Duarte was looking to open his own restaurant, she suggested using her closed location and bypassing some of the headaches that come with opening a restaurant.
In February, Duarte unveiled Finestre Modern Gastronomy inside the Market venue. The retired firefighter and paramedic brings high-end food from his European Michelin-star restaurant training home to his neighborhood. Finestre, which means “window” in Italian, offers five-, seven-, and nine-course tasting menus that provide a window into the culinary world.
Duarte also uses modern gastronomy to bring out-of-the-box cooking concepts, such as cooking with nitrogen or creating delectable foams and gels, tableside at a cost that is more accessible thanks to the shared space.
“We’re going to be doing some very unique stuff and creating food that nobody in Arizona has tasted,” Duarte elaborates.
One of those unique offerings is Japanese Satsuma A5 Wagyu, which Duarte describes as the best beef in the world, including specialty cuts not available everywhere. Duarte also is excited by the five-course vegetarian selection and is confident it’s something even meat eaters will enjoy.
At the Market, Russo continues to dish out a fun, fresh twist on the classics, modernizing dishes in a playful way that keeps the food comfortable and recognizable.
The shared space has a casual yet elegant feel. Exposed ducts, brick walls, and red, metal stools are softened by the sparkle of chandeliers and the warmth of honey-hued wood tables. Doors leading to the front and side patios give the space an open-air feeling, and a large kitchen window allows food lovers to watch and interact with the chefs. Regardless of who is in the kitchen, diners can expect an inviting, energetic vibe.
“It’s not stuffy,” explains Russo of the atmosphere. “You can come in on your way to the ballet or coming from a workout. We want everyone to feel welcome.”
Both chefs share a passion for supporting the community by offering seasonal menus, buying from small, local vendors, and engaging with guests. Another perk of the partnership is shared inventory, which helps keep prices down and allows for more specialty items, including a reserve list of fun and intriguing wines.
“I’m truly blessed and honored that I’m able to do this,” Duarte says.
Thanks to the shared schedule, Duarte is using his free time to host dinners with chefs across the country. In May, he also is participating in a 300-mile bike ride for No Kid Hungry to help eradicate childhood hunger. In support of that mission, Finestre is hosting a charity dinner this month, sponsored by Barilla, with all funds benefiting No Kid Hungry.
The Market Restaurant + Bar is open Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch, and the first and third Saturday of every month, 5 to 10 p.m., for dinner.
Finestre Modern Gastronomy serves dinner Sunday through Tuesday and the second and fourth Saturday of each month, 5 to 10 p.m. The seasonal menu offers five, seven or nine courses, paired with or without wine, at prices ranging from $60 to $225 per person.
3603 East Indian School Road, Phoenix; 602.626.5050; www.themarketphx.com.