Bernie Kantak Announces New Restaurant Concept in Former Piccolo Virtu Space

Nikki BuchananJanuary 30, 2024
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Original Chopped Salad | Photo courtesy In Good Spirits Hospitality
Original Chopped Salad | Photo courtesy In Good Spirits Hospitality

You know, I’ve been thinking about Bernie Kantak lately. At a time when indie chefs/restaurateurs are opening multiple restaurants at a clip, it’s been all quiet on the Old Town front for Kantak and his partner Andrew Fritz of In Good Spirits Hospitality.

As it turns out, that’s not true. They’ve been working on something too: an all-day comfort food restaurant housed in the Main Street spot most recently occupied by Gio Osso’s Piccolo Virtu. Named Beginner’s Luck, it will feature casual, moderately priced brunch, lunch and dinner options for locals and the hordes of tourists wandering around Old Town most of the year.

If you’ve ever dined at Piccolo or Nonna Urban Eatery, then you know it’s a difficult location — small and situated at the end of dead-end sidewalk tucked between storefronts. But for what the guys at In Good Spirits have in mind, it should be perfect.

Kantak, known for crafting food that’s both creative and approachable, says the menu will be small, 12 to 15 items total with some crossover from day to night. There will be a few more elevated dinner selections, but all-in-all, it will be well-traveled (read: global) comfort food presided over by chef de cuisine Benjamin Graham. As for lunch, we can expect lots of easy, snacky stuff. Kantak jokes that he wants to put a chopped salad (God knows he’s famous for that) in every tourist’s hands. He also plans to do something akin to what he did at Devour last year, using a whole Iberico hog from Niman Ranch in various applications –  grilled, slow-roasted, something with a Duroc chop. He also intends to source smoked sausages from Schreiner’s and bread from Noble for sandwiches. He may even make kolaches, both savory and sweet.

The sweet ones would pair nicely with the restaurant’s third wave coffee program, which will scratch an itch for Fritz, who is much more of a coffee nerd than Kantak. Third wave coffee is 180 degrees from Starbucks, which, in this case, means it will be sustainably sourced from specific regions and roasted a bit more lightly by local roasters to create a balanced and palatable cup. Expect to find the usual coffee options.

Oh, and of course, there will be cocktails, headed up by barman Curtis Williams, who oversees all things alcoholic at The Gladly and Citizen. Kantak says that the cocktail program will be slightly less robust than those found at the other two locations, which I take to mean slightly less nerdy and more approachable.

Kantak says he and Fritz plan to spruce up the patio, adding asparagus ferns and other plants to keep the space light, airy and pleasant. Meanwhile, the cozy interior will be quaint and comfortable, a place to watch the “play going on” in the open kitchen.

They hope to be open by the end of February at 7240 E. Main St. in Old Town Scottsdale.