50 Best Dishes: Glorietta Trattoria’s Eggplant

By on April 4, 2018

Pairing the flavors of tradition and invention

No. 41 in the 50 Best Dishes series is awarded to Glorietta’s Eggplant Parmesan. (Helen Goelet)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Glorietta Trattoria, voted Best New Restaurant and Best Italian Restaurant by PJH readers, is empty at 2 p.m. on Friday. Chairs hibernate on the bar and bistro tables. They’ll be put to work soon enough.   

“I love this time of day,” said general manager Chuck Greenwald as he flipped a light switch.  The room warmed instantly, yellow flecks of light reflected off the wood-paneled floor and forest green walls. “It’s the calm before the storm,” he said.

Greenwald took the helm at Glorietta in June 2017, just five months after the grand opening and while he and his wife were expecting their first child. His long black beard, he quipped, is “just a result of not having time to shave.”

Given Glorietta’s four key components, its wood-fired oven and grill; the cocktail menu; its housemade pasta and an Italian-centric wine list, it’s no wonder Greenwald hasn’t had time for a shave.

The wood-fired oven and grill, or la parrilla as it’s known in Argentina and Uruguay, is the epicenter of the restaurant. During service, the iron-wrought instrument glows through the open bar and into the dining room. It hinges on the delicate management of wood-fired heat—how most of the proteins and vegetables on the menu are cooked. 

“It’s a great piece of machinery,” Greenwald said, “but it’s not an easy one.”

Sheer space limits how much can actually be cooked on the grill. But the menu is largely comprised of charred dishes and items of smokey-perfection that depend on the warmth of the high maintenance parilla

The bartenders depend on the grill too. “Our contract with Death and Co. [the New York-born craft cocktail empire] has really helped us cultivate an interesting bar menu,” said bar manager Scott Kitchen as he shook a Perma Grin. The signature cocktail is made with tequila, lime, smoked salt and grilled pineapple. Grill-blackened tomatoes, meanwhile, make their way into the house bloody marys.

A must-sip: the Bivouac Collins, with cognac, rye, pressed apple, ginger, lemon, bitters and seltzer.

Like the cocktails, it is the marriage of fresh flavors and a transformation of something classic or tired into something delicious, light and familiar, that merits the Eggplant as one of the 50 Best Dishes. The flavors are nostalgic and warm.

Thinly-sliced eggplant is fried in a tempura-like batter with parmesan. It is served over a light, sun-kissed pomodoro and topped with fried basil. This is the freshest bite of eggplant parm you’ll ever try. “We want to keep things simple with fresh flavors, and our chef team, led by Mac Jarvis, really speaks to that,” Greenwald said.

Growing up in Seattle, Jarvis attended culinary school before working his way into some of the city’s best restaurants.  In 2016,  he was recruited to David Chang’s Momofuku Las Vegas location. That’s where he met sous chef Eddie Gomez, who he brought with him to Jackson Hole.

Meanwhile, Greenwald, a California transplant by way of New York, quickly adapted to the difficulties of Jackson’s restaurant sphere. He knows that produce, certain wines and liquors are not easy to come by, so he has brought experts on board.

“We work with an Italian wine specialist based in Oregon, he’s really helped us cultivate a nice breadth of unique wines from all over Italy,” Greenwald said.   

The wine menu pairs well with the modern-Italian food and the ambiance of Glorietta. Its New York-city based owners, Eagle Point Hotel Partners, which operate the restaurant in conjunction with the Anvil Hotel, brought inspiration from the city’s contemporary twists on traditional styles.

What’s next for Glorietta? Saturday and Sunday brunches are on the menu and a gelato shack is in the works too. 

[Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story misidentified Chef Mac Jarvis. – Ed.]

About Helen Goelet

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