Abingdon, Virginia’s, newest restaurant, Foresta, is filled with art – both on and off the plate.
From the deep blue in the bar area to the lighter shades in the dining area, Zane Triplett has chosen the colors, art and antique furnishings with painstaking care. The restaurant is filled with art from local artists ranging from talented high school students to internationally known Charles Vess. Some of the art is from Triplett’s personal collection and some is on loan. Diners who are interested in purchasing artwork should ask Triplett about its availability.
Triplett, who is from Abingdon, will be creating a cocktail menu, helping to tend bar and whatever other tasks are necessary to help his restaurant succeed. He started working in restaurants when he was attending Carson Newman University, Jefferson City, Tennessee. He continued to work in restaurants and high-end bars throughout Tennessee.
“This is just something I’ve always enjoyed doing,” he says. He owes his return to Abingdon to another restaurateur, Josh Fuller of The Tavern. “He said, ‘You’ve got to come home. Morgan’s building is available. Two days later I was here. One month later, the lease was signed. Three months later, my house in Nashville was sold. The restaurant life is what I know, and it’s what I enjoy despite the horrors and the pain it sometimes inflicts. There’s a lot of good in seeing someone’s face light up with something they’ve never had before or serving their favorite dish or cocktail,” he says.
His cocktails are beautiful – some with gold flakes floating in them – and some are playful, such as a sake cocktail served over cereal. The artistically plated food is upscale Mediterranean with an Italian flair.
Triplett brought his chef, Marco Rossi, with him from Nashville when he came home to open Foresta.
Rossi trained at the hotel school in Rome. From there he began traveling around the world. He worked at The Connaught in London and The Hermitage in Nashville. He worked in Paris, on cruise ships and then in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. He moved to Nashville to open a restaurant and met Triplett and his sous chef, Gabriella Grady.
His mentors were all Italian and as he says, “I was fortunate to have people that I always looked up to. Not only because they were successful, but they were also very kind,” Rossi says.
When creating one of his dishes, he says he always starts with a picture in his mind of how he wants it to look, taste and smell.
“I always start with a picture in my mind because you eat with your eyes first. And then we practice. Personally, I like to stick with the basics and then put in a twist here and there without going off the wall. I like to cook. I like to create things. There is always something new. It’s not a boring job at all. But you have to love it. To me it’s not a job, because I love what I do,” Rossi says.
He also gives credit to his sous chef and the rest of his kitchen team. “It’s all about teamwork, but you have to be a good teacher.”
Grady grew up around food as her father was a general manager of a restaurant. “It was just always a part of my life. Food was how we showed our love. I decided to go to culinary school at Nashville State, and then I met Marco and we worked together at The Hermitage,” she says. When Rossi agreed to come to Abingdon, he asked Grady to accompany him.
Foresta is obtaining much of its produce locally. One grower specializes in vegetables popular in Italian cuisine, such as purple asparagus. Triplett and Rossi continue to meet with potential local produce suppliers. Their salmon is from north of Scotland, the sea bass and jumbo shrimp from South America. The beef and lamb come from Georgia.
“I like to work with a lot of fish because it’s Mediterranean. So we’ll have a lot of fresh ingredients and flavors. I can’t wait to open. I like what we’re going to do, so it’s a beautiful challenge. And, I love the area,” Rossi says.
Foresta is located at 190 East Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia. For more information, visit their Instagram page.
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