In July, a new restaurant will move into the subterranean space on Chapel Street previously occupied by the Italian restaurant Scoozzi.
Harvest Wine Bar, named after a sister restaurant in Greenwich, Conn., will join a group of five restaurants in the state owned by restaurateur Vincente Siguenza and his family. The restaurant will employ a “farm to table” concept according to Siguenza, attempting to source as much of its ingredients from local and organic farms as possible.
For Siguenza, who has been in the restaurant business in Connecticut for over 10 years, using local ingredients makes all the difference in serving fresh food.
“The taste is just day and night,” he said. “You pick a tomato from any store and you pick it from a farm, and the taste is 100 percent different.”
The idea to open the new restaurant was hatched around three months ago, Siguenza said, adding that the process of obtaining the proper permits and rights since then has been “very simple.”
The Siguenza family opened its first restaurant, called Caza, 10 years ago in New Canaan, Conn. Since then it has opened restaurants in Fairfield, Darien and most recently, a Harvest Wine Bar in Greenwich. The family, which owns a small farm in Easton, Conn., is dedicated to sourcing local produce for their restaurants, according to Siguenza.
The restaurant plans to cater to the fine dining crowd, though Siguenza said he hopes it will especially appeal to the health-conscious segment of the New Haven population.
“The chicken needs to be free range, and the meat needs to be grass-fed,” Siguenza said. “What you put in your body is our main concept.”
He added that the wines they serve will be, whenever possible, organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed.
Natalya Perlman ’17 said that she doesn’t eat out much, but when she does, she would pay higher prices for food that has been locally sourced.
“Local food is connected to so many things — better treatment of farm workers, engagement of the community, reduction of transportation and energy costs. It’s healthier,” Perlman said.
She added that she feels better eating somewhere when she can support where the money is going.
However, serving local food during winter becomes significantly more difficult, as not as many ingredients are grown in an immediate radius during the cold months.
“Most local cuisine is about the poster ingredient being local rather than the less prominent ingredients like the herbs or the milk,” said Zak Schelssinger ’17, who works on the Yale farm. Schlesinger added that it’s very expensive to source everything locally.
Yet the restaurant will try to carry “99 percent” organic, pesticide-free, and local food — qualities that may not be mutually exclusive — Siguenza said.
Scoozzi closed in October 2011 after 24 years of operation.