Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JAN-FEB 2019

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Page 75 of 135

Written by Neil Charles / Photography by Andrew Kung ITALIAN COASTAL Nesso offers a light touch. Located on the ground floor of the Alexander hotel, Nesso occupies the space formerly home to the experimental restaurant Cerulean. Showcasing contemporary Italian cuisine that eschews red sauces and checkered tablecloths, this latest addition to the steadily expanding Cunningham Restaurant Group (CRG) marks another digression from comfortable Midwestern-themed dining into fresh culinary waters. However innovative and complicated Italian cuisine might become, it always seems to pay homage to the way Mamma used to make it, which is one of the reasons why this fabulous and diverse culinary culture never seems to go out of fashion. Nesso serves up dishes whose names we may well recognize, but prepares them in a way that incorporates on-trend ingredients, fresh local produce and cooking techniques that owe precisely nothing to Chef Boyardee. Always one to mix up styles and influences, executive chef Layton Roberts finds ways to incorporate fresh local ingredients into classic Italian dishes while maintaining the integrity of both. "I like to elevate things, but I really like to get something into every dish that fires the imagination," explains the veteran chef. "Something that maybe sparks a memory of the best thing they ever had at home." Trained as a pastry chef at Sullivan University in Louisville, Roberts describes his cooking as being rooted in classic French techniques, but his influences are far-reaching. Growing up in southern Indiana, with grandparents from the Kentucky-West Virginia border, he learned how to pickle vegetables and cure meats at an early age. An industry veteran, the chef executes all new CRG openings, menu development, and event planning, having been a member of the group since 2010 when he was hired to open the popular Mesh on Mass restaurant. 74

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