The Rapidian

Local chef to open osteria in renovated Kendall building

Chef Christopher Perkey and business partner Brittanie Bonham are preparing to launch a new Italian themed restaurant in the heart of downtown.
Chris Perkey and Brittanie Bonham

Chris Perkey and Brittanie Bonham /Eric Tank

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Rooftop view from the Kendall building

Rooftop view from the Kendall building /Eric Tank

Osteria Rossa under construction

Osteria Rossa under construction /Eric Tank

Come the new year, January tentatively, downtown Grand Rapids will be the new home of Osteria Rossa. The Italian inspired Midwestern restaurant will be located in the Kendall building at 16 Monroe Center NE that is currently getting a makeover.

Chef Christopher Perkey and business partner Brittanie Bonham have teamed up to create the osteria, which according to Perkey translates to "country house or tavern." In this case, Red Tavern; rossa meaning red. The reason: the building is constructed from red brick, and will be remodeled to show off the original aesthetic.

The west end will house a full bar that in addition to drinks will offer mozzarella, olives and charcuterie appetizer plates. An open kitchen will sit in the back and televisions will be available for watching sports.

Local beers including Founders will be available on tap and the wine options will mainly consist of Italian varietals. Osteria Rossa will also be doing a quartino club. Think mug club, instead wine carafes displayed on the mantle.

The kitchen will be equipped with a wood burning pizza oven and a pasta extruder and press so Perkey can make fresh noodles.

The east wing will be a quieter dining hall. Using reclaimed barn wood for shelving will add to the rustic atmosphere that will seat just about 50 people.

"This is going to be a more intimate place that if you want to come down and have a three course dinner with your partner, you can," says Bonham.

The entire storefront will be large glass doors that open to the outside onto a patio, which is literally Monument Park. The outdoor seating could fit as many as 30 people, but until the construction is complete on the park that number is yet to be determined.

Bonham has recognized that there is a growing residential population in the downtown area and thinks that Osteria Rossa can serve as an affordable, casual place for folks to eat and relax. "We are a neighborhood restaurant in the heart of downtown", Bonham says.

Perkey says the Kendall building location bridges the gap between Heritage Hill and Downtown. His vision is to appeal to both sides of the divide.

"We wanted to do something casual, family friendly, approachable but still taking those four star culinary philosophies and beliefs, working with the farmers, the high end service and put that in a very casual and approachable neighborhood restaurant," says Bonham.

Perkey, the original chef at Bistro Bella Vita, moved to Grand Rapids from Chicago 15 years ago after spending an extensive period working in the restaurant business. After Bistro, he owned the Firehouse Grill in East Grand Rapids.

His philosophy has always been the farm to table model. Bonham says Perkey had been doing since before it became the trend that it is today.

The concept came about four years ago when Perkey and Bonham were considering options and ideas for different types of restaurants. When the Kendall building became available, they knew that it was perfect spot for an osteria. Osteria Rossa is intended not only add to the diversity of Grand Rapids' burgeoning culinary scene, but also add to the urban neighborhood culture.

"It's Italian inspired cuisine with Midwestern roots," says Bonham. "We love this town. We're passionate about this town and we're passionate about food. We're [bringing] those things together."

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