By LISA MONTI
Chef David Dickensauge is bringing upscale Italian fare to Old Town Bay St. Louis.
Dickensauge and Lee Parrish are opening Corks & Cleaver Italian Bistro this month in the spot that was vacated by Old Cuevas Bistro after about a year.
The two have partnered on the Italian restaurant through their newly formed restaurant group. The Parrish Family owns the building at 111 Main St.
Dickensauge, who recently won Mississippi’s Seafood Cook-Off competition, opened Corks & Cleaver in 2015 in downtown Gulfport. That restaurant, whose menu offers Mediterranean and Spanish dishes with a Southern touch, is being relocated while the chef and his staff get the Bay St. Louis restaurant up and running.
“I’m going to be in the kitchen daily for the first two months after opening to help assure development of our new Italian brand,” Dickensauge said. “It’s an awesome building and I’m looking forward to coming to Bay St. Louis.”
The owners said they wanted to keep the Corks & Cleaver name “because it has a following and is so successful.” Parrish and Dickensauge have hired David Woodward, the longtime executive chef at the New Orleans Hilton, as a consultant on the new restaurant.
Dickensauge has extensive experience in Italian cuisine. He interned in Italy and worked in the kitchens of some of Chicago’s top Italian restaurants.
The menu won’t be extensive at first, with a few artisan pizzas made from scratch, fresh pasta, small plates and entrees for lunch and dinner. Offerings will expand over time and the chef plans to create a unique dining experience in the area.
“It will be a bistro with true Italian fare, not just lasagna and eggplant parmesan but dishes you would find in upscale rustic Italian restaurants all over Italy and in New York, Chicago and New Orleans,” said Dickensauge.
Ingredients will include local, sustainable produce from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama and imported cheeses and meats. All the pasta will be made in house. Wine selections will be eclectic, he said.
Dickensauge promised the “same foodie-style food like at Corks & Cleaver, but with a different flavor profile, ingredients and ambiance. What we do is not the food everybody else does.” He promises lots of different pastas and other unique dishes, in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The decor will feature coastal photographs by popular photographer Alex North.
One feature that will set the bistro apart is a Marra Forni brick wood fired pizza oven, one of just a few in the South. Dickensauge said it’s the best of its kind and it was be the centerpiece of the dining room.
“What we are going to do is going to be amazing. The main thing is, we will create a fine Italian dining experience in Old Town,” he said.
Dickensauge and Parrish also will offer catering as well as onsite event space and outdoor seating at the new location, which is near the Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor and among the city’s many restaurants, bars, shops and galleries in the historic downtown district. Their target opening date is July 1.