Adam Jones is ready to greet Fort Worth with an enthusiastic “ciao.” The owner and face of Grace and Little Red Wasp plans to open an upscale Italian concept called 61 Osteria on the west side of downtown next spring.
The restaurant will open on the ground floor of the First on 7th building, at 500 W. Seventh St. across from Burnett Park, which is also home to Neighbor’s House Grocery and Buon Giorno Coffee.
The tenured Fort Worth restaurateur says the concept is years in the making, as he’s long envisioned opening an Italian restaurant with Grace executive chef Blaine Staniford by his side.
“Chef Blaine and I talk concepts all the time, and Italian cuisine is always top of the list,” says Jones, who has been running high-end restaurants downtown for more than 30 years, previously managing Prego Pasta House in the ‘90s and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse when it opened in 1996 before he opened Grace in 2008.
Initially inspired after a 2006 trip to Italy where he traveled from Venice and Verona to Florence and Milan, Jones says, 61 Osteria’s menu will focus on simple dishes with minimal but quality ingredients — essentially the definition of an Italian osteria.
Patrons will find items like prawns with charred lemon; Sicilian oregano and toasted garlic; pappardelle pasta with pork ragu; basil and house-made ricott; and bisteca alla florentina, dry-aged bone-in ribeye with heirloom tomatoes, wild arugula, and 25-year balsamic vinegar.
Menu items will be categorized by pane (bread), antipasti (hors d’oeuvres), insalate and brodo (salad and soup), primi (first dishes), pesce and carne (fish and meat), and contorni (side dishes).
The wine list will highlight Italian producers, and hand-crafted cocktails will give nod to Italian classics, he says.
Jones says he’s eyed the First on 7th building since before he opened Grace, even buying a condo across the street. He says he knew it was time to embark on the project when Fort Worth investor and philanthropist Glenn Darden started to revitalize the property, adding the grocer and coffee shop. A wine club is also planned for the building’s basement.
“This location is very “NYC,” says Jones. “The park, the sculptures, the midcentury look, the huge patio, all of the glass — after some very good conversations with Mr. Darden, the race was on.”
The number 61 is significant — the building’s completion date was in 1961, the same year Jones was born. The restaurant is anticipated to open in spring 2022, the same year both the building and Jones will turn 61 years old.
The midcentury modern dining room will seat around 130, while the bar will seat 60 more. Both spaces will feature U-shaped booths and banquette seating, with prime street-side views along a glass wall facing Seventh Street, he says.
There’ll also be space for private dining, as well as spacious outdoor plaza dining and lounge seating for 60 more.
The restaurant will be open for dinner seven days a week, and will serve lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, he says.
Jones is also excited about weekday happy hours (popular at Grace) and a traditional Italian Sunday supper where a pre-set menu will be served family-style.
“Fort Worth is my home,” Jones says. “I look forward to building another restaurant that guests can call home, too.”