With numbered carts full of rabbit meatballs, roasted peppers, alici anchovies, fried artichokes, and albacore crudo, and salumi sliced “until it’s gone,” chef Nathan Lockwood’s Carrello is now open on North Broadway.
Watching him carefully but forcefully slicing a robust mortadella from Olympia Provisions out of Portland, you might get the idea that he opened Carrello just to showcase the blade passing through the loaf of pork, pistachios, and “warm spices.”
“I got one of these slicers about 15 years ago for a different restaurant. You sort of never forget them. They’re magical,” Lockwood told CHS Wednesday night on the restaurant’s second night of business. “I just wanted to put it in the dining room.”
Born into the space where Poppy grew into a Capitol Hill classic over its 11 years, Carrello is Lockwood’s answer to eight years of creating upscale, chef-driven dining on Broadway at his “elevated” Altura across the street. The warmer, more playful concept at Carrello is intended to be a simpler dining experience focused on “seasonal, artisanal traditions and familial generosity of Italian dining.” With Carrello, Lockwood told CHS he’ll be free to indulge his affinities for “big cuts of meat” and “rustic pasta” that weren’t always conducive to the small space at Altura and its focus on its lauded set menus.
The new business is also an experiment for the veteran restaurateur. The Carrello carts, he hopes, will provide diners with fast and impulsive access to his creations, a move he says is in line with the “faster pace of dining vibe, where things are happening the minute you sit down.”
Carrello’s prices are also designed to be more accessible with plates of stuzzichini, antipasti, and salumi rolling by from $4 to $9, pasta entrees in the teens, and big cuts of meat, whole chicken, or a grilled fish priced to feed you and a few friends.
Lockwood’s menu, he hopes, will also be as exciting as his meat slicer. “Please note, our menu is subject to change – sometimes daily,” the restaurant cautions. “We try our best to keep it updated online, but sometimes we’re too busy cooking!”
Wednesday, as Lockwood talked about the joys of prosciutto from Iowan heirloom pigs, the chef said you had better order what you want when you see it. “We’re gonna slice different things every day. A lot of salumi from Italy. Something new every time,” he said.
“When they’re gone, they’re gone.”
As for this summer’s conversion of Poppy into Carrello, you’ll still find some echoes including the great bar and the patio herb garden. Lockwood said the change lives up to his hope to “bring the kitchen and the dining room together but in a totally different way.”
“I couldn’t be happier with how it came together,” he said. “Feels exactly like I thought it would.”
Carrello, Lockwood is happy to report, is like his meat slicer in the middle of a dining room.
“It’s simple and fancy at the same time.”
Carrello is located at 622 Broadway E and open Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 5 PM. You can learn more at carrellorestaurant.com.
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