Giorgios Bakatsias, the restaurateur behind Giorgios Hospitality & Lifestyle Group, will open Osteria Georgi in Chapel Hill this spring. Chef Daniel Jackson, an Eleven Madison Park and MoMA alum, will join as partner and chef. Named in honor of Bakatsias’ late friend, George Tarantini, an Italian native and former North Carolina State soccer coach, the restaurant will focus on Italian fare made with locally sourced ingredients from the area. “George had such love and respect for hospitality, and for all the small details that make it such a special way of connecting,” says Bakatsias.
“We’ve had such a great history in Chapel Hill since Bin 54 opened 15 years ago, and Kipos Greek Taverna in 2013,” Bakatsias tells Eater Carolinas. “We felt like there was an opportunity to introduce more exquisite flavors inspired by food-loving Italy — done simply and with excellence — and are grateful to have found such a favorable lease in this prime location, surrounded by so many potential guests within walking distance,” Bakatsias adds.
Jackson returned to his hometown of Chapel Hill, and University of North Carolina alma mater, after a lucrative 17-year culinary career —including a three-year tenure at New York City’s three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, executive sous chef for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group’s catering and events, and executive chef at MoMA, overseeing three restaurants.
“I’m definitely drawing on my past experiences at Eleven Madison Park and MoMA,” Jackson tells Eater Carolinas. At MoMA, Jackson was chef at Cafe 2, an Italian trattoria, which he describes as a similar concept to Osteria Giorgi, but on a larger scale. “We served light Italian fare — pasta, paninis, salads, antipasti — to upwards of 1,500 people per day.” Expect a little touch of Jackson’s Eleven Madison Park days in the mix. “Eleven Madison Park taught me how to push in the kitchen and always work with a sense of urgency,” he adds.
The osteria will serve lunch, dinner, and brunch, plus offer a market component allowing customers to buy housemade pasta and sauces to prepare at home. Jackson is excited to work with local ingredients. Expect dishes like ricotta agnolotti with seasonal vegetables, North Carolina seafood brodetto (fish stew), potato and spring onion soup with crispy quinoa, fresh crudo dishes utilizing local fish, and prosciutto pie — set to become a fast favorite. “Dan’s food is divine,” says Bakatsias. “His pasta, all of which he’ll be making by hand, left me dreaming and wanting more.”