Michael Gulotta, the New Orleans chef behind popular fusion restaurants MoPho and Maypop, is working on a third restaurant, he announced this week. And while the new project may seem like a major shift in focus for Gulotta, to diners who’ve followed his career over the years it might seem like more of a return to his culinary roots.
Tana is the newest restaurant from the MoPho team (owned by Gulotta and his partners Jeff Gulotta and Jeffrey Bybee; Maypop is owned by Gulotta and Bybee) — a group that once also ran a popular pop-up by the same name. That pop-up, an ambitious Italian kitchen inside the now-closed Mid City bar Trèo, served Sicilian-style plates like garlic spaghetti with clams and sausage and grilled snapper with harissa-roasted cauliflower, quickly becoming a favorite among critics. It debuted in 2016, the same year Gulotta opened Maypop, a progressive, Southeast Asian-meets-Southern restaurant downtown. The team closed Tana three years later in 2019 as Gulotta prepared to open a second location of MoPho in the new New Orleans airport.
Gulotta’s reincarnation of Tana, done in partnership with Bybee and two local restaurant investors, will be in Old Metairie (in Jefferson Parish, a neighboring parish to Orleans). At 5,000 square feet, the spacious restaurant and bar is branded “upscale Italian,” and will serve Sicilian dishes influenced by Gulotta’s great-grandmother, Gaetana — nicknamed Tana. It seems like a natural progression for Gulotta, a former August chef who left the Besh Group in 2013 to venture out on his own, particularly given more recent reflections on who gets to cook what in the culinary world. Gulotta was a finalist for the James Beard Awards Best Chef South in 2020.
With an emphasis on fresh pasta dishes, Tana will feature a pasta rolling station visible to the street and to diners to witness how it’s all made. In a press release, Bybee promises “Tana will be one of the better restaurants in this area and similar to something you’d find in Miami, Chicago or New York, but with Old Metairie ambiance.”
Tana is projected to open at 2929 Metairie Road in early 2023.