Butchertown Pizza Hall opens today

You can tell Allan Rosenberg is happy to be back in pizza and in command of his own place. His smile is as wide as the New York-style slices he and wife, Shelly Rosenberg, began serving Monday at their new spot, Butchertown Pizza Hall, on Story Ave. in Butchertown.

Several years have passed since Rosenberg opened a trio of Papalino’s pizzerias across the city, and with their gradual demise, many bemoaned the loss of solid pies made simply and well.

But with the closing of Hall’s Cafeteria last year, the Rosenbergs saw a chance to get back in the pizza game—literally through the window of their home, where it shares the same lane as the legendary plate lunch spot. The two buildings are so close, he could crawl if necessary and still make good time.

The dining room at Butchertown Pizza Hall.

The dining room at Butchertown Pizza Hall.

“I’m not sure if I could make it any easier,” Rosenberg joked. For several months after the 2016 closure of his last restaurant, Fontleroy’s, he worked as chef de cuisine at Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh. Now he’s in command of a quartet of brand new Marsal stone deck pizza ovens. “Maybe if we lived upstairs, yeah, that would be easier.”

But that arrangement wouldn’t work for long since the Rosenbergs plan to use the current finished space for private parties and live music, and by next spring they plan have converted its roof into an outdoor lounge with a bar.

“Don’t you think that will be cool?” he asked, eyes wide. “There’s so much potential here.”

Butchertown Pizza Hall is targeted toward a wide-ranging but not terribly disparate demographic: families, shift workers at the JBS Swift plant across the street, and late-night crowds looking affordable, sharable pies and inexpensive beer. Though craft beers are on hand, the bar is out loud and proud of its low-budget, big brewery lagers like Old Milwaukee, Miller Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The bar at The Hall.

The bar at The Hall.

“When you’re drinking beers that cost $2 to $3, and having a couple of slices, you can get out of here for around $10,” he said. Spinning around to reveal the back of his standard staff T-shirt, which reads, exactly, “Great Pizza, Shi**y Beer,” he added, “We like good stuff, too, but we want this to be as relaxed as possible. There’s nothing serious about this.”

The menu is simple: a plentiful range of pizzas, wings, salads, hoagies and desserts. Pizzas are customizable with a couple dozen toppings and cheeses, and 10 signature pizzas are available. All run 14-18 inches. There are daily slice specials ($3.50), such as a $7 lunchtime deal for a slice, two garlic knots and a soft drink.

But it’s not all about eating. There’s a nice game room with old school favorites like Ms. Pacman, Mortal Kombat, air hockey and tabletop shuffleboard, as well as a full, but limited bar. No fat-washed or hopped whiskey cocktails here: just the basics.

For now, it’s open daily during the week from 10:30 a.m. to midnight, and if business warrants, 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Chef shuffle: Rosenberg back to pizza, Dailey to Harvest, Curry to Beaumont Inn–UPDATED!

Before we start, an observation, not a criticism: Chefs didn’t move around from restaurant to restaurant often when I cooked back in the Stone Age. But don’t believe everything you hear from some in the business who like to say employees of yore were more loyal and dedicated … all that gauzy lens nostalgic stuff that doesn’t withstand much objective scrutiny.

When the restaurant boom began here in the 1980s, chefs were backroom players, not the mini-celebrities you see now. I recall watching some of my executive chef bosses panic when invited by a guest to visit them tableside. They had no clean, spare jacket waiting in their office to put on and pretty up. Most were lucky to find a clean apron.

That’s all changed with open kitchens, the evolution of star chefs, Food Network personalities, cookbook deals, etc., because people want to know the personalities who cook their meals. There simply are more opportunities for chefs now, and with the rise in sheer restaurant numbers, these skilled professionals are in higher demand, so they’re offered more to move around. Add to that, the chance to cook something different—or even run their own places—is alluring. Those are the biggest reasons they move around quite a bit in 2017, not because they’re all disloyal.

UPDATE: Where’s Newman Miller? The chef and co-owner of Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown (which is temporarily idled) is busy opening the brand-new Star Hill Provisions restaurant at Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., today, March 15. Any of you who had his amazing food at HSH can expect to be blown away by the new facility and the food. And as you’d expect, his wife, Rachel, is joining him in that operation as well.

Allan Rosenberg goes back to pizza: According to David Mann’s story in Business First, Allan Rosenberg will open Butchertown Pizza Hall, a fast-casual pizzeria and arcade, sometime this spring. Pizza is familiar territory for Rosenberg, who once owned and operated Papalino’s Pizza on Baxter Ave. Since then he’s been chef-partner at the former Fontleroy’s (now The Fat Lamb), consultant chef at Citizen 7, and culinary director at Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh, where he is now and he will stay until transitioning out to his own place.

Dailey leaves Corbett’s for Harvest: Ten years ago, Jeffrey Dailey was a Sullivan University culinary intern at Corbett’s: An American Place. As of Feb. 25, he was the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, until he departed abruptly with the announcement by owner Dean Corbett that the fine dining menu would be changed to a much more casual layout featuring the foods served at one of Corbett’s other properties, Jack’s Lounge. That’s a decade-long run, folks, which would have been a really long stay even in my day.

At Harvest, he’ll be sous chef under executive chef Patrick Roney, forming what should be a powerful culinary combination.

Flesia to Covered Bridge: Making room for Dailey’s appointment is Harvest sous chef Joe Flesia, who is moving to take over the foodservice program at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg, Ind.

Josh Bettis, former executive chef at the Brown Hotel. | Photo by Rick Redding

Josh Bettis, former executive chef at the Brown Hotel. | Photo by Rick Redding

Josh Bettis gone from Brown Hotel: I’m way behind the news here. Longtime Brown Hotel executive chef Josh Bettis left last November for work at another hotel in Colorado. Since then James Adams was named as his replacement—a job that includes oversight of the English Grill, all banquets and J. Graham’s—while chef Andrew Welenken remains the chef de cuisine of the English Grill. Expect a story on this change later next week.

Brian Curry to Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg: More than a year ago, Brian Curry left his executive chef post at Napa River Grill to take over the kitchen at what would become Finn’s Southern Kitchen. His run there was a short one, and he moved on to take over the kitchen at the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Ky. Three reasons why this is really interesting:

  1. The Beaumont Inn is a fantastic, historic hotel that won a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic award in 2015. I’ve stayed there only once, but I loved it and want to return.
  2. Curry’s boss, Dixon Dedman, (also the man behind Kentucky Owl Bourbon, who I profiled last year) told me recently that he wants a forward-thinking chef who can elevate the food there to a higher standard and give it some modern spins. Right now, the food is basically good country cooking: fried chicken, delicious though cooked-to-death veggies, corn bread, biscuits, country ham … you know the drill. Dedman knows this works for older visitors, but that younger travelers expect much more.
  3. This should result in food that matches the bourbon experience at the Old Owl Tavern and the Owl’s Nest, basically a cozier bar within the tavern itself. These places are where Dedman hosts excellent interactive bourbon tastings, and where you can get some amazing pours of hard to find whiskeys at reasonable prices. (Especially the Kentucky Owl. A pour here is half to one-third less than what you’ll pay elsewhere.) These bars are made for lingering. Go check ‘em out sometime.

Dallas McGarity leaving Marketplace to open Fat Lamb in Fontleroy’s spot

Chef Dallas McGarity, longtime executive chef at Marketplace Restaurant and veteran of spots like Equus and Z’s Fusion, is leaving to open his own restaurant, The Fat Lamb Modern Kitchen and Bar. His first solo venture will be located 2011 Grinstead Drive, currently home to Fontleroy’s.

Fontleroy’s owner Scott Dennsion inked a deal Tuesday afternoon to sell the restaurant’s equipment to McGarity and allow him to take possession of the space on Oct. 1. The price of the transaction was not disclosed. McGarity will lease the space from Grinstead LLC, which is owned by the Riley family.

On Sept. 18, the change will bring an end to Fontleroy’s 13-month run. Despite great anticipation and early promise, things began to stumble there by the spring of 2016. Dennison’s partner, Allan Rosenberg, created an ambitious menu loaded with costly ingredients—a combination that was difficult to sustain in a highly competitive and labor-strained market. The addition of its daily Biscuit Social breakfast didn’t spur sales appreciably.biscuit-social-web

Rosenberg left Fontleroy’s in June to work as a consultant chef at Citizen 7 in Norton Commons, and help develop the menu for Parlour, a pizza concept to be opened by the partners behind Citizen 7. Just last week he left that position to become culinary director over Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh. (Click here for that story.)

Dennison’s restaurant background includes roles as an early Papa John’s franchisee, a Huddle House operator and the lone Louisville Uncle Maddio’s Pizza franchisee. When that concept fell short of expectations, he closed it and took a stab at the independent market with Fontleroy’s. The end of that business coincides with the end of his lease at the site.

Dennison called the sale to McGarity “a perfect situation for him. It’s like he’s getting the keys to a late model used car. And it’ll be a turnkey with his personal touches and ideas. I think it will be excellent for him and the space.”

Expectedly, McGarity is excited about the move, calling restaurant ownership, “scary, but all mine.” He said changes will be mostly aesthetic alterations, but nothing major.

“Right now it’s all white, all wood, all concrete and metal, and that’s loud,” said McGarity. “My wife is a commercial interior designer, so that’s going to help. Right now she’s looking into sound deadening materials we can use to help the noise.”

Whether McGarity retains any Fontleroy’s employees remains to be seen. He said taking over an existing staff can be difficult if some can’t shift gears to the boss’s ideas.

“I think the staff has a lot of potential, but I think part of the problem with Fontleroy’s was that they didn’t have the leadership behind them,” McGarity said. “I’m going to talk to some who are there and see if they’re onboard with my vision.

“But really, the staff issue is not that big a deal for me. I have people who will want to come along with me.”

That includes his sous chef from Marketplace, Brad Menear, who’s worked alongside McGarity for eight years.

“We get along really well,” he said. “It’ll be fun to bring him.”

Replacing McGarity at Marketplace will be Zach Young, longtime sous chef at Ward 426. No word on his replacement at the Highlands restaurant.

McGarity said the menu for the Fat Lamb is far from finished, but said it’ll center on small plates and lean toward Southern influences.

“I want a lot of smaller portions made from super high-quality ingredients,” he said. “It’ll be creative cuisine, but accessible, not off-putting. People will understand it.”

He envisions having “a good cocktail program, but nothing psycho. I don’t want people taking 10 minutes to make a drink.”

Fat Lamb will be open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, and serve brunch on Sundays.

Peripatetic chef Rosenberg leaves Citizen 7, lands at Anoosh Bistro

Here’s one of the toughest parts of a journalist’s job: Knowing information that sources won’t confirm or deny, and rolling the dice on whether to publish that info anyway or wait.

I waited just shy of two weeks to report that Allan Rosenberg had left Citizen 7, where he was a consulting chef, to become culinary director at Anoosh Bistro. Both moves followed his June departure from Fontleroy’s, where he was partner and executive chef since last September.

Neither Rosenberg nor Shariat responded to requests for interviews, so I held tight.

And lost the scoop. Business First jumped before I did, convincing Rosenberg to chat and getting a brief interview for the publication’s online edition.

Win some, lose some. Sometimes patience is rewarded, other times not. Though technically not a dollar short, I’m clearly a day late on reporting Rosenberg’s move to rejoin Shariat, the affable and popular chef who mentored Rosenberg at Park Place restaurant. That spot, if you recall, was located on Main Street in the space now used as warehousing for barrel-aged beers at Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse. That was an early step in what’s become a lengthy odyssey of Rosenberg starts and brief stays at multiple restaurant companies in Louisville.

Following Rosenberg’s time at Park Place, he opened and closed Danielle’s, a solo venture in Clifton, and Papalino’s, a two-unit pizzeria company he started in the Highlands on Baxter Ave. Rosenberg’s partners in Papalino’s opened a second unit in Springhurst. Rosenberg closed the first pizzeria two years ago and sold his interest in the company to his partners, who operated the Springhurst pizzeria until closing it just weeks ago.

Anoosh Shariat, co-owner of Noosh Nosh and Anoosh Bistro. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Anoosh Shariat, co-owner of Noosh Nosh and Anoosh Bistro. | Photo by Steve Coomes

In 2014, at about the same time he was leaving Papalino’s, Rosenberg became chef de cuisine at The Place Downstairs, the subterranean and short-lived upscale concept operated in the basement of the J-Town Mussel & Burger Bar. A few months later he helped change the concept to Cena, a modestly upscale Italian concept that never caught on and closed 13 months later.

In the wake of that setback, Rosenberg set about creating Fontleroy’s, a modern-Southern casual restaurant in the Highlands that he and chain restaurateur Scott Dennison opened last fall. Yet as of this June, Rosenberg left Fontleroy’s after 10 months to work as a consulting chef at Citizen 7, a Latin-inspired taqueria and tequila bar opened in Norton Commons early this year. Since Citizen 7’s multiple partners prefer to stay off the record when talking to reporters, the connection to that concept and Fontleroy’s is a tad murky, but it’s arguably correct to call Rosenberg’s reassignment an intra-company move.

I talked to him about the change back in July, and discussed further work that he’d do as a consulting chef for Parlour, a pizzeria to be opened late this fall by roughly the same group behind Citizen 7. (It will be located near the Jeffersonville end of the Big Four footbridge.) A self-proclaimed “big fan of pizza”—a large slice is tattooed on Rosenberg’s left arm—he told me he was excited about a return to that crusty, saucy niche.

What he knew at that time that I didn’t was that his return to pizza would happen at Noosh Nosh, not at Parlour.

I found out a couple of months later via a tip from a source who said Rosenberg was on the move again, this time to Shariat’s operations. I requested interviews with both men to confirm or deny the rumor, but got no response. That was unusual for both, since each has shared off-the-record information with me before and, on some occasions, asked that I wait until a proper time to break the news.

Rosenberg's eventual play toy: the pizza oven at Noosh Nosh. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Rosenberg’s eventual play toy: the pizza oven at Noosh Nosh. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Believing it’s best to have a relationship with a source than ruin it in a rush to publish first, I don’t recall a time when I’ve declined that request. So despite hearing nothing but crickets, I kept still while double checking the rumor with other sources, who confirmed Rosenberg’s transition.

So yesterday I saw Business First report the story, and in it Rosenberg confirmed he’d returned to Shariat’s fold, where he’ll be culinary director for the company. I can’t say I was happy, but I can’t say I was terribly mad, either. I stuck to my principles about how I handle confidential information, though it cost me a scoop. (Yeah, we journalists are competitive that way. Petty as it may seem to outsiders, it’s one way we rank our wins.)

I can’t imagine his partner at Fontleroy’s and his contract bosses at Citizen 7 were happy either, though I know they got the news many days before.

I shared my disappointment in a text to Rosenberg and Shariat, and Rosenberg responded with a call. A little late, I told him, but to his defense, he said he was protecting his own interests by keeping quiet overall. I told him I understood that, but I said he should have at least acknowledged I knew the story and asked me to wait. But that’s the risk in my business; his risks are different in his. We agreed professionally that our separate needs simply didn’t align, and we politely maneuvered the discussion toward details of his new post.

Rosenberg said his immediate focus is Anoosh Bistro, an impressive restaurant that I’d call Shariat’s best upscale effort ever in Louisville (much as I loved his namesake restaurant operated long ago in Crescent Hill). Rosenberg said Shariat wants him to review the menu, see what staples need to remain, what dishes can be modernized and what dishes can be replaced in a seasonal rotation. According to some of Rosenberg’s chef peers, refining, perfecting and creating dishes are skills he has in spades.

Rosenberg said to expect more wine- and cocktail-paired menus and the possibility of a nightly prix fixe offering. The return of Kyle Higgins as Bistro’s bartender, will help create these new pairings.

Rosenberg also said he’ll eventually move his focus to Noosh Nosh, which is located conveniently across the Brownsboro Center parking lot from Anoosh Bistro. The move will mark Rosenberg’s return to his beloved pizza, for at the heart of Noosh Nosh throbs an Italian, gas-fired pizza oven cloaked in ruby red tiles. The flaming beast produces some of the city’s best pies, hot breakfast items and caramelized hunks of juicy proteins in its searing-hot bowels. Few kitchen toys excite chefs like one of these.

Rosenberg’s peripatetic record posits the question of how long he’ll stay at Shariat’s side. By his own admission, he’s cursed with an extreme culinary curiosity, one that sends him plunging into the piles of cookbooks stacked at home. It also seems to lead him from restaurant to restaurant in search of fresh stimuli.

Perhaps the return to Team Shariat and giving in once again to the pull of pizza will keep him working in Indian Hills for a good while. Saying that such is my hope is the easy part of my job.

Rosenberg leaves troubled Fontleroy’s to help at Citizen 7

Allan Rosenberg, chef, partner and creator of Fontleroy’s in the Highlands is no longer working at the midscale Southern food restaurant.

According to Rosenberg, he left the restaurant two months ago when his business partner in Fontleroy’s, Scott Dennison, requested he come help at Citizen 7, a Norton Commons taqueria and tequila bar that has struggled with kitchen turnover since opening earlier this year. As consulting chef for Citizen 7, Rosenberg created the menu and helped open the facility.

He insisted his departure from Fontleroy’s “wasn’t a bad thing,” and added that he doesn’t “know what’s been going on there since I left. I’ve just focused my energy on Citizen 7.”Woven-sign-Font

According to sources who declined to comment on the record, Fontleroy’s is battling sagging sales and turnover problems of its own. And while Rosenberg couldn’t comment directly on the restaurant’s challenges, he allowed that the location—set back off the road at the corner of Bardstown Road and Grinstead Drive—might not be ideal for a restaurant.

“Fontleroy’s is the best, worst location there is in the area,” he said. “There’s really only one way to get into and out of the lot there, and that’s a pain in the butt.”

Opened last fall, the restaurant garnered good reviews, and all seemed well as it added breakfast service earlier this year. But Rosenberg said adding breakfast may have dampened dinner traffic, plus he wonders if Fontleroy’s dinner menu is priced too high for the area.

“I’ve been told breakfast is busy there, but I’m not sure if it took away from dinner aspect,” said Rosenberg, who authored all Fontleroy’s menus. “Maybe it became (in people’s minds) a special occasion restaurant because of the (dinner) cost.”

A July 30 Facebook post by Fontleroy’s bartender Ashley Towning painted a picture of a restaurant facing significant problems.

“Many people have asked me what has been up with Fontleroy’s,” began Towning, whose Facebook name is Smashley Marie Towning. “At this point, everything is so messed up with management and the concept in general that I’m not really airing this to bash them or anyone, I’m sure anyone who has visited in the past 6 months or so can figure it out themselves.”

Towning’s post accused management of “not caring enough and lacking true restaurant knowledge to continue running the place properly,” and “we (the staff) have had extensive evidence pointing to the fact that the physical building space is going to be sold/rented to a new owner under our noses.”

In a private Facebook discussion with Towning, she stood by her comments, yet she remains employed at Fontleroy’s.

Asked whether Fontleroy’s closure is imminent, Rosenberg said, “(Dennison) hasn’t mentioned closing it to me, though I know it’s up for a lease renewal in November.”

Four years ago Dennison leased the building and opened an Uncle Maddio’s pizza franchise there. According to Rosenberg, when Dennison closed the fast-casual pizza concept, “he was still in the Maddio’s lease, so he just repurposed the restaurant as Fontleroy’s.” He declined to speculate on whether Dennison would renew the lease.

Dennison was not available for comment on the matter by press time.

Rosenberg also mentioned that the neighborhood around Fontleroy’s is experiencing negative changes. At the Bardstown-Grinstead corner of the Fontleroy’s lot is a TARC bus stop where homeless persons sleep on its bench and the sidewalk below it. Additionally, the Speedway C-store store directly across Grinstead is widely known among Highlands business owners and residents as a hub for drug deals.

“That whole intersection has become really sketchy,” Rosenberg said. “When I had Papalino’s Pizza down Baxter (Ave.) a few years ago, the neighborhood wasn’t like this. The Highlands is changing a lot there.”

In the coming months, Rosenberg will return to the pizza business when he opens Parlour in Jeffersonville near the end of the Big Four Bridge’s footpath. Rosenberg, whose arm bears a tattoo of a pizza slice, said he’s excited to return to the craft of pizza making.

“I’ve always liked it,” he told me recently. At one point, he was involved in two Papalino’s pizzerias, but he sold his interest in the company. Just one remains in business in the Springhurst neighborhood. “I’ve really missed not doing it.”