Frank Bonanno's empire may now stretch over 10 restaurants and bars, but the chef's first love will always remain Mizuna. "Mizuna is my baby. It is my first restaurant and I feel particularly close to that kitchen and that style of cooking," he shared. "I had an opportunity to come back and spend some time there cooking. I changed the menu almost entirely. What you find on there now are my dishes, the way it was in the beginning."
That beginning was 14 years ago when Mizuna opened in a space that previously housed Aubergine at 225 E 7th Avenue. Through the years, only four chefs were named executive chefs at Mizuna aside from Bonanno with Stephen McCary being the last of them. When McCary moved to New Orleans to take a job at La Petite Grocery earlier this year, Bonanno seized the chance to hit the reset button.
"It is a very young kitchen crew we have at Mizuna now," he explained. "Stephen and I, of all the chefs I've had, were so very much on the same page. His food was simple, but all about great technique, classic French cooking. I want to get back to even more of that and show our cooks what my style is in a more hands on way."
One of the cooks paying close attention is Ty Leon, who has been working at Mizuna for the last seven months. Prior to joining the Bonanno group, Leon cooked at a small restaurant in Littleton. He has been chosen as Mizuna's new executive-chef-in-training. Over the next six months, Leon will introduce some of his own dishes, starting to slowly put his own stamp on the menu.
Mizuna is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Highlights of Bonanno's new menu include the capellini chasseur (rabbit confit, wild mushrooms, and fines herbs) and the veal T-bone (potato-veal carré, grilled arugula, truffled demi-glace).