Have you noticed a cute little flying pig in downtown Rye lately?
If you have, you might want to know that the pig is the mascot of Gordito, a Latin Fusion restaurant coming soon to 24 Purchase Street.
The 75-seat eatery is the brainchild of Chef Raffaele Ronca, co-owner of Rafele Rye, which has served Italian cuisine next door at 26 Purchase Street since 2018.
A departure from Ronca’s long history of working in and leading Italian restaurants (he also co-owns Bianca in Greenwich), Gordito Latin Fusion By Rafele — its full name — will serve a unique combination of Spanish and Mexican foods.
Ronca had thought of creating a Latin Fusion restaurant for five years. He was spurred to make that a reality when Rafele’s landlord alerted him that the space next door (formerly Angela’s, the women’s fashion boutique, which relocated to Theodore Fremd Ave.) was available. Transforming the space from retail to restaurant has taken over a year to complete.
A 2016 winner on The Food Network’s show “Chopped,” Ronca is no stranger to the mixture of celebrity and fine food, and he leveraged that knowledge to develop the concept. Last year he spent time in the kitchen of Chef Jose Andres, who Ronca said was generous in sharing his knowledge of Spanish cooking and managing a restaurant kitchen.
Referring to Gordito’s just completed menu, Ronca said the restaurant would feature his take on Latin classics such as individual-size paellas, gambas, pan con tomate and jamon Iberico from Spain, and tacos and burritos from Mexico.
Ronca said he is confident that his six years of catering to the preferences of Rye diners will help him make Gordito a popular destination. “Give people a great product at a reasonable price and you’ll be a success,” he said.
Although he is optimistic Gordito will be embraced by local patrons, he is under no illusion that the restaurant business is easy. “I was shocked when I learned that Meso (at 22 Elm Place) closed earlier this month,” he said.
Several special touches should build enthusiasm for Gordito among diners. For example, in designing the layout, Ronca carved out a special nook to create a private “VIP table” for six. Vibrant artwork from Mexico will enliven the interior design. And Ronca expects that a value-priced wine list of 30 red and 30 white Spanish wines will prove popular.