The Nomad Bar is about to get a weekly dose of red sauce. Chef Daniel Humm has been cooking Italian-American food like lasagna, shrimp scampi, and chicken parm at the behest of Will Guidara ever since they met a decade ago, and now, the people behind The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park will be sharing their love of this food every Sunday at The Nomad Bar, through an Italian-American dinner called Mamma Guidara’s. It’s a four-course, family-style meal, and it’s the first time the public can experience dishes like a Humm-made fried calamari.
"This is food that’s really just about being delicious," the chef says. "I don’t know, I think all food is that. But everyone who comes to these dinners has that kind of reaction. It’s very soulful. So many people have memories with that kind of food."
The three Michelin-starred chef’s experimentation with Italian-American food has been entirely the doing of Guidara. Guidara’s father ran the now-shuttered Times Square Italian restaurant Mamma Leone’s for years. The restaurateur grew up eating there, spending every birthday at the "big, crazy, Italian American restaurant," he says. "It was just a spectacle," Guidara says. "They had balloon animal guys. It was theatrical in every sense of the word." Now, Italian-American food is his favorite genre of dining, and he took it upon himself to take Humm to spots like Bamonte’s on the regular. "He’s told me about foie gras and Michelin star restaurants," Guidara says. "The greatest thing I’ve taught him is the importance of carbonara and chicken parm."
Don’t expect any of dishes or recipes to be reinvented or upscale takes. Mamma Guidara’s will be a love letter to Italian-American classics, more traditional food intended to be eaten in a relaxed atmosphere the way that Humm and Guidara have always experienced it. Besides serving the meal family-style, The Nomad Bar will be decked out in decor, music, and lighting that’s a tongue-in-cheek riff on the theatrical elements of Mamma Leone’s, Guidara says. Menu items will change weekly, and dishes like baked clams, Caesar salad, chicken parm for two, spaghetti carbonara, meatballs, cannoli, and tiramisu will pop up. Cocktails will also be special for the night, with options like an amaretto sour and grasshopper.
Tickets cost $68, excluding drinks, and can be purchased online. Mamma Guidara’s starts on October 2 and will continue every Sunday. "This is crazy," Guidara says. "I get to serve, in one of the restaurants that I own, fried calamari. That’s a dream for me."