When Avanti opened last year, we knew that the restaurants would come and go as time progressed. Farmer Girl left, making room for Bamboo Sushi and, most recently, Poco Torteria made its departure to be replaced by chef Kevin Grossi’s concept—The Regional.
Grossi left his post at Lola Mexican Fish House in LoHi at the end of February after five years. From there, he headed out on a three-week road trip to experience the authentic foods of various regions throughout the country. He explored the hot chicken in Nashville, roasted pork sandwiches in Philadelphia and shrimp and grits in Georgia. What he came back with was a better scope of how to approach the country’s cuisines. “What I wanted to do is something simple with different comfort foods throughout the country,” said Grossi on his new endeavor.
The Regional’s menu features sandwiches, tacos and bowls for main courses with fruits and veggies as sides. While the term “comfort food” may conjure up thoughts of heaping dishes of salty, nap-inducing food, Grossi’s iterations of comfort food stay true to tradition but in a healthier, simpler way. Grossi is also culturing his own sour cream, sweet cream and malt vinegar in house, truly bringing the down-home country food back home.
The shrimp n’ grits ($8) is made with more water and less cream and butter with grits from Riverview Farms in Georgia, bringing a light and fluffly texture to them. Shrimp are simply sauteed with additions of Cajun spice, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, the Hoppin’ John ($6)—a dish you might find in South Carolina—is a bowl of rice, black-eyed peas and ham hocks. It sounds like a salt bomb, but each bite of Grossi’s dish is a fine balance of spice and salt on the palate.
Grossi’s fried chicken sandwich ($6) is made with a gluten-free batter of tapioca starch and cornstarch, fried and tossed in a hot cayenne oil, then served on a bun with house-made pickles and onion.
While fried chicken sandwiches seem to be all the rage these days, the roast pork sandwich ($7) is the bite you can’t miss at the Regional. The roasted pork is chopped up with rapini and pickled peppers, then stuffed inside a hollowed out roll from City Bakery and finished with a drizzle of provolone cheese sauce. The peppers bring a welcome heat to the juicy and savory pork that fills the roll.
The Regional is a welcome new taste to the lineup at Avanti with approachable and familiar fare. Grossi’s lease on the space is for two years, so there is plenty of time to get comfortable having him and his team around. The Regional opens today at 11 a.m.
All photography by Danielle Webster.