Vita Restaurant

From the SF Chronicle:

Yet another high-profile restaurant is coming to Yountville. A few weeks ago, we reported that Michael Chiarello, founding chef ofTra Vigne and owner of NapaStyle, will open Bottega Ristorante there later this year. Now Laura Cunningham, who was the driving force behind the service and front-of-the-house operations at the French Laundry, and Per Se in New York, has signed a lease to take over the space that once housed Pere Jeanty (6725 Washington St.).

The opening won’t be until mid-2009 because she plans to revamp the space, which will seat about 130 people and include a full bar and private dining rooms.

Cunningham, who has been consulting since leaving the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group nearly two years ago, has a very personal stake in the restaurant she’s calling Vita. It’s named after her grandmother, Vita Morrell, and the food will be Sicilian and Southern Italian. Cunningham says she’d been toying with taking over the space for some time. When she was back east, she had a long conversation about the project with her 90-year-old grandmother, who encouraged her to move forward. She started dictating recipes and telling her granddaughter about many specialties that are no longer around and should be put on the menu. Three weeks later she died, so Cunningham decided to open the restaurant in her honor.

While the entire project will be closely overseen by Cunningham, daily operations will be managed by culinary director Jeffrey Cerciello of Ad Hoc and Bouchon, and the team at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

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