For the past four years Chef Amalia Scatena has been running Charlottesville, Va’s Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards restaurant and event space. So tackling Spring Street’s new Cannon Green restaurant and venue — Pippin Hill’s sister property — is no big change. What is different, however, is Scatena’s new urban digs. But swapping a rolling vineyard for downtown Charleston has done little to lessen the chef’s enthusiasm for her new home. In fact, she’s eager to get her hands on the Holy City’s fresh local seafood for her Mediterranean-influenced dishes; a menu locals will get to taste by mid-December when the restaurant officially opens.
“My style of cooking — I studied in Europe and grew up in San Francisco — is I have this intense Italian background,” Scatena says. “My family is Italian, food is the center of what we do. We always start with cheese or cured meats and salamis and pâtés so that’s just how I roll.” But even though Cannon Green will be a space where passersby can sit at the bar or one of the reclaimed wood door high top tables and enjoy small bites of charcuterie and wine, Scatena says the menu will really be about dinner.
“I would say the menu will be Mediterranean,” she says. “The connection that I have to water growing up, and when I was in Europe I traveled all over the place — it’s definitely a coastal city kind of thing. So there will be a big seafood component. I think that since you can get all this wonderful product fresh off the boat here is just the coolest.”
Scatena says guests can expect a variety of crudos as well as fresh pasta permanently on the menu. “There will always be seasonal fishes, as well,” she says. “There’s going to be one steak dish, quail — I love any sort of little game bird — seasonal salads. I try to tell my staff this, things that were imported from Europe 10 years ago, like prosciutto and cheese, the U.S. does a killer job of all that now. So we’ll be showing what’s coming out of Oregon and Iowa, California olive oil, and all those other places.”
And for Cannonborough-Elliotborough brunchers, Scatena has good news: Sunday brunch is in the works. “I think my brunch is a little different than what is more traditional here,” Scatena explains. “It’s a balance of the comfort food meets sophisticated food. I don’t think you’ll have to take a three hour nap afterward, but I think you’ll get your fried fix if that’s what you’re looking for.”