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Est! Est!! Est!!! offering 'elevated' Italian at ROAR

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Est! Est!! Est!!! Italian restaurant opened March 16 on the ground floor of ROAR, 633 N. Liberty St.

Along with the opening of the rooftop bar, The Mayfair Club, on March 17, all of the food businesses in ROAR are up and running. The final space, the ROAR Brands Theater on the lower floor, will open March 24 with a series of three performances by the Shamrock Tenors.

Est! Est!! Est!!! is run by chef de cuisine Simone Conosciani, a native of Rome.

Est! Est!! Est!!! is the name of a famous Italian white wine, but the phrase’s origin comes from an old story about a German bishop on his travels. He directed a boy to travel ahead and scout the places that had good wine, writing “Est!” (Italian for “There is!”) on the walls of inns that served good wine. When the scout arrived in Montefiascone, where Est! Est!! Est!!! is made, he found the wine to be so good that he wrote “Est! Est!! Est!!!”

Conosciani also runs Zero Sei, a food stall in ROAR that features the piadinas, or flatbreads, of his homeland. Conosciani came to the United States in 2015 to work for his uncle Vinnie Mari at Vinnie’s Pizzeria on Peters Creek Parkway.

At Est!, Conosciani wants to offer fine Italian dining, with an emphasis on the seafood dishes he remembers from his childhood. “I’m from Rome, but the side of Rome near the coast, and I used to go to the markets to get fresh seafood. So, I want to do a lot of seafood here.”

The Est! menu is divided into antipasti, insalate e zuppe, primi and secondi, as with standard menus in Italy.

Antipasti, or appetizers, include cozze e vongole (mussels and clams, $16), with white-wine sauce with cherry tomatoes and garlic.

Soups ($7 to $9) include pasta e fagioli (pasta and white beans), zuppa di mare (seafood) and minestrone (vegetable). Salads incude insalata di polpo (octopus, $16), and insalata di tonno (tuna, $15). “The octopus is very tender,” Conosciani said, “because we’re doing it in the sous vide (a method of slow cooking in a vacuum-sealed bag). We’re using the sous vide a lot — like for the ossobuco.”

Primi, or first courses, include rigatoni alla carbonara ($18), orecchiette alla Pugliese (pasta with broccolini and sausage, $15) and risotto alla pescatora (seafood risotto, $23).

Secondi, or second courses, include ossobuco (braised veal shanks with polenta, $36), pollo alla Romana (chicken thighs with roasted potatoes and white-wine sauce, $18) and salmone alla Siciliana (salmon with capers, tomatoes and olives, $23).

Est! also has a brick oven for pizzas and more, but the oven installation probably won’t be complete for at least a couple more weeks.

Desserts ($8 to $10) include cannoli, tiramisu, hazelnut gelato and panna cotta. The latter uses coconut and pear to make it gluten-free and dairy-free.

Conosciani’s sous chef is George Ruiz. “George and I want to give Winston-Salem elevated Italian cuisine — still comfort food but fancier,” Conosciani said.

As with JL Caspers, Simon Burgess is the principal owner of Est!, with Joseph Correll as operating partner.

Burgess and Correll also own ROAR's Mayfair Club rooftop bar, which is open from noon until closing Thursday through Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. Sunday.

336-727-7394

@mhastingswsj

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