April 12th, 2013 - It took over 9,000 screws to secure 1,400 bright green plaster medallions into the feature green wall and ceiling at Naples new Barbatella restaurant. Basically, building the Floridian restaurant was contractor’s dream job – sore arms?! Venetian-born chef and restauranteur Fabrizio Aielli purchased two separate buildings connected only by a courtyard with the intention of transforming them into one restaurant. Aielli teamed up with Griz Dwight of Washington D.C based GrizForm Design Architects to unify the two spaces that are located steps from the shores of Naple’s swanky Port Royal.
After opening two successful restaurants, chef Fabrizio Aielli knew exactly what he wanted in his new Italian joint, Barbatella. The chef wanted to turn two separate buildings into one restaurant, he wanted the design to cater to a casual dinner patrons, but also attract a sophisticated cocktail crowd, he wanted the space to cultivate two different styles of Italian architecture, and one of the chef’s most important requests was that the restaurant should function to serve three meals a day, seven days a week.
Dwight, along with his team at GrizForm managed to pull the two spaces together and meet the programmatic needs by creating a comfortable place where old world authenticity meets new age sophistication – giving Barbatella a dual personality.
Barbatella’s bar side offers a more sophisticated dining experience with a long wood communal table, birdcage chandeliers, an eye-catching green medallion ceiling where light bulbs sporadically pop out, and bright yellow upholstery, attracting an uptempo night-owl crowd.
“We just kept adding more medallions and before we knew it, 1401 medallions lined the ceiling and wall,” Dwight explained of creating the feature wall. The architect admitted that the chef was initially hesitant about painting the wall bright green, but because the two have previously worked together, chef Fabrizio lent his trust. “Chef was calling asking me ‘are you sure green?’ trust me, bold color and bold gesture.”
The dining side takes a more rustic approach, celebrating its Italian roots with brick floors, wood tables, terrazzo counters and copper finishes, exuding the warmth and roughness of the Italian countryside. “Together, the spaces illustrate two very different styles of Italian architecture. One takes a more, practical utilitarian approach, while the other is a bit more flashy and decorative,” Dwight explained.
The open kitchen on the restaurant side further characterizes the honest and open features of the dining side of the restaurant. The fire of the copper-clad, wood-burning pizza oven further warms the space, creating a welcoming environment for guests. Photographs line the left wall featuring both unknown and celebrated Italians, including Toto and Sophia Loren, enjoying Italian feasts.
The restaurant has only been open a few months, but is kicking off to a great start with a design that comforts and ‘wows’ guests at the same time. “Make sure you try the Pizza’s” Dwight insisted. “They are light and refreshing, perfect to have during a day at the beach.”