His restaurant Arista might be closed forever, but Chef Ben Herreid cooks on.
Two local business owners had been looking at opening a restaurant in the former Arista space, with plans to hire Herreid as chef, but that project fell through.
That left Herreid looking for a job. He quickly found one.
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Herreid began cooking last week at Cafe Vincero, a downtown Tacoma restaurant in the middle of a great neighborhood for dining and nightlife.
Owner Kevin Cornwell opened his restaurant in 2014 with a menu of traditional Italian classics with an oven fueled by wood that churns out thin crust pizza and blistered calzones (which I gave high marks to in my tour of calzones).
Cornwell said he’d had a kitchen-staffing change just as Herreid closed his restaurant. Cornwell said he told Herreid, “Come down now.” The two knew each other from when Herreid sold his handmade ravioli at the Tacoma Farmers Market. Cornwell served Herreid’s ravioli at his restaurant.
Herreid said he’s eager to make the move to a Tacoma restaurant.
“There’s a lot happening in Tacoma and this is a great opportunity to be downtown,” he said.
Herreid and Cornwell have modified the menu at Cafe Vincero.
“Kevin had a very traditional Italian menu. The things he felt important to leave on are actually dishes I’m really happy to do,” Herreid said.
The carbonara, for instance, will stay. However, Herreid swapped the fettuccine for his fresh, house-made black pepper tagliatelle.
He has added other fresh pasta, including pappardelle and his shrimp and crab raviolis. Cornwell praised the pea and tarragon ravioli new to the menu.
As for other menu additions, Herreid said he’s eager to work with the restaurant’s wood-fueled oven.
“I’m loving the idea of having a wood-fired oven. Kevin hasn’t used it for anything but the pizza, but I’m going to get the most use out of that and use it for other things,” he said.
Fresh produce will be trucked in from the Puyallup valley farm that Herreid founded with farming partner Drew Constant.
“Drew already brought product down. He brought rhubarb and greens and garlic. Radish will be coming on soon,” Herreid said. “We’re doing a wilted green salad with soft boiled egg and asparagus. That wilted salad will be a mix of greens from the farm, Tuscan kale and all kinds of greens.”
The farm is also a CSA. Members buy into the farm for a share of the produce through its growing season.
Herreid also brought with him some former Arista employees, including sous chef Hailey Gift and a number of servers.
Herreid and Cornwell want former Arista diners to know that Cafe Vincero will honor all of Arista’s gift cards.
“I don’t care how many are out there, I’m going to honor them,” Cornwell said.
As for RoastHouse, the Parkland restaurant that Herreid opened last year, it is back in business at 14506 Pacific Ave. S.
It reopened in March with Puyallup restaurant owner Tim Hall of HG Bistro at the helm and Chef Nathan Hawes in the kitchen.
The menu shifted to a Latin-inspired menu of street tacos, roasted meats and a mix of Mexican and Argentinian-themed dishes. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner and offers table service.
Where: 714 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-503-6141; cafevincero.com.
Open at: 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays. Closed Mondays.