The owner of Nachobot, located along Fifth Street between Garfield and Roosevelt streets, hired the restaurant’s first chef last week with plans to revamp the menu by bringing in new culinary talent.
Mario Etsitty, formerly a specialty chef at the Phoenix Public Market, has partnered with John Sagasta, owner of Nachobot, Jobot and Bodega 420, and will be the eatery’s first chef since its inception.
Sagasta wanted to provide Etsitty a kitchen canvas after the Phoenix Public Market closed, Sagasta said.
Etsitty contributed to the menus at Rúla Búla Irish Pub in Tempe and at the public market.
Sagasta hired Etsitty to manage the kitchen so he could focus on other projects, he said.
“It’s a two-guy job,” Sagasta said.
Nachobot was “loosely run,” and Etsitty’s many years of experience will tighten it, Sagasta said.
Aaron Johnson, owner of nearby Lawn Gnome Publishing, said he believes hiring Etsitty benefits downtown residents on multiple levels. Etsitty will create dishes for new customers while bringing with him his old customers, Johnson said.
Etsitty said he is creating “something different” for Nachobot. The appearance of the interior may change along with the food, once they work out the details, Etsitty said.
Soon after Etsitty starts full-time in July, Nachobot’s chalkboard menu will see changes, Sagasta said.
Etsitty wants to adjust the theme of Nachobot to bring in a healthy, refreshing menu.
“This is a food and art gallery, in a sense,” Etsitty said, “so I’m coming in here to kind of make pretty art-food, and hopefully we can sell it.”
Sagasta said they have brainstormed new items to add to the menu including tamales, soups, stews, a new type of crepe, fresh juices, aguas frescas and salads.
Plans regarding the food and drinks won’t be finalized until July, Sagasta said.
Etsitty said the food at Nachobot now is like fast food, and he wants to make changes to it.
“Really it’s just still going to kind of be the same thing … except the food’s going to be better,” Sagasta said.
Soups and frescas are Etsitty’s specialty, he said, and he wants to give more to the neighborhood eatery.
“On top of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bodega ends up getting some of Mario’s pastas and frescas,” Johnson said. “Or Jobot getting something that Mario created. He’s part of the team now.”
Sagasta said he welcomes any new dishes Etsitty creates for Nachobot. Although he sets boundaries, Sagasta said, he allows his employees to flourish.
“There’s just a quality control that he can add to it, you know, that I couldn’t from afar,” Sagasta said. “But he’s going to be in there doing it. … He’s going to have his hands on, and he’s going to be working it.”
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