Food & Drink » Flavor

Nate's on Marsh dishes up Central Coast cuisine with 'Italian soul'

By

comment

Nathan Long is a San Luis Obispo native, while Libry Darusman was born in Indonesia and raised in Germany.

Together, Long says they whip up contemporary American fare with "Italian soul" at Nate's on Marsh, which replaces Gennaro's Grill & Garden at 450 Marsh St. in SLO.

Founder and owner Long debuted the eatery—as well as parent company NRL Food Group—in September. His first hire was executive chef Darusman, who "literally took my vision and perfected it through his recipes," Long said.

HEAD HONCHOS From left, Nathan Long, owner of Nate's on Marsh, and executive chef Libry Darusman, co-develop the restaurant's evolving menu based on seasonal ingredients. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • HEAD HONCHOS From left, Nathan Long, owner of Nate's on Marsh, and executive chef Libry Darusman, co-develop the restaurant's evolving menu based on seasonal ingredients.

"I think it's kismet that we found each other and awesome that we have this yin-yang partnership," he added. "Love the guy."

Darusman, most recently the chef at Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, boasts a lengthy resume, including formal training at the Art Institute of California in Santa Ana, and experience at Los Angeles and Las Vegas establishments.

"While in Los Angeles I catered the Oscars, the Emmys, multiple museum openings, and I even cooked for an American president," he said.

PASTA WITH PIZAZZ The pappardelle ragu dish at Nate's on Marsh features hand-cut pasta, Tablas Creek lamb ragu, and walnut gremolata. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • PASTA WITH PIZAZZ The pappardelle ragu dish at Nate's on Marsh features hand-cut pasta, Tablas Creek lamb ragu, and walnut gremolata.

In Las Vegas he helped open Encore at Wynn, handling "400 to 500 covers a night cooking till almost 1 in the morning," he said.

For more than a decade he has refined American and Italian cuisines.

"I'm very passionate about making my own pasta, my own bread, my own cheeses, etc.," he said. "My inspiration for menus definitely comes from the farm produce and proteins in the area ... so our menus are very much driven and inspired by the seasons."

Darusman is also drawn to tradition.

"My favorite dish to consume would have to be roasted pork shank with potato dumplings and braised red cabbage," he said. "This is one of my earliest food memories. [My grandma] would roast pork shank all day slowly in the oven and make her own potato dumplings, and ferment and braise her own red cabbage.

"The reason that's special to me [is] because it's a perfect blend of food and family."

At Nate's, Darusman dishes up California-inspired classics such as Niman Ranch rib eye, free-range chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, as well Italian specialties, including rigatoni Bolognese, and spaghetti pesto and pomodoro.

LOCAL BOUNTY Seafood options at Nate's on Marsh include sea bass with smoky tomato cioppino, seasonal vegetables, garlic aioli, and house-made lavash crackers. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • LOCAL BOUNTY Seafood options at Nate's on Marsh include sea bass with smoky tomato cioppino, seasonal vegetables, garlic aioli, and house-made lavash crackers.

One repeat customer, SLO resident Vicki Carroll, is partial to the cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), featuring house-made chitarra pasta with buerre fondue and Parmigiano Reggiano.

"The food is delicious," said Carroll, adding that the beverage list isn't too shabby either. Carroll is president of SLO's Hospice du Rhone, a nonprofit vintners' association supporting Rhone wine producers and grape growers worldwide.

She says there is "something to please every palate" at Nate's, from craft cocktails to a "very thoughtfully curated" selection of local and Italian wines.

Long spent several months remodeling the 2,500-square-foot restaurant, which features Western-themed paintings from local artist and syndicated cartoonist Jerry Scott.

Scott is known for his beautiful "Edna-scapes," Long said.

COWBOY CHARISMA Local artist Jerry Scott's paintings evoke the West at Nate's on Marsh. "I'm happy with the way they came out," Scott said, while crediting Ali Jansen, owner of Frame Works in San Luis Obispo, for expertly framing his originals. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • COWBOY CHARISMA Local artist Jerry Scott's paintings evoke the West at Nate's on Marsh. "I'm happy with the way they came out," Scott said, while crediting Ali Jansen, owner of Frame Works in San Luis Obispo, for expertly framing his originals.

"I grew up riding and have always loved horses, so that just seemed perfect for the space," he added.

Scott whipped up seven originals in six months, a task that might seem daunting to some, but not to Scott.

"Deadline is my native language," Scott said, "It was a pretty big lift to make it happen, but I'm happy with the way they came out."

Long was thrilled. "The calmness of Jerry's work against the lively wallpaper makes for a beautiful combination," he said.

Former owner of the establishment, Gennaro Rosato, is a fan the new restaurant and the team behind it.

"I was both pleased and happy to see the restaurant transfer to such dedicated new hands." Rosato said. "After spending so many years establishing Gennaro's Grill & Garden, I wanted to make sure the right person would come along and preserve its history.

"When Nathan approached me and walked me through his strategy plan, I knew he would make the perfect next owner. I am proud and honored to pass the restaurant to another local that prides himself in excellence."

Long's deep roots in SLO include a degree in agribusiness and agricultural business operations at Cal Poly.

He fine-tuned his restaurateur skills in San Francisco, "with acclaimed mentors like chef Joseph Manzare of Postrio and Spago fame," he said, as well as Mary Klingbeil.

HIDDEN JEWEL Nate's on Marsh, an easy stroll from downtown SLO, accommodates 80 guests, with additional seating for 40 on its covered and heated outdoor patio. Walk-ins are accepted, but reservations are preferred. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • HIDDEN JEWEL Nate's on Marsh, an easy stroll from downtown SLO, accommodates 80 guests, with additional seating for 40 on its covered and heated outdoor patio. Walk-ins are accepted, but reservations are preferred.

Under their guidance, Long "managed and marketed a number of celebrated restaurants, including Globe, Zuppa, and Joey & Eddie's," he said.

Now he's excited to take the reins at his own restaurant—in his hometown.

"Both my parents went to high school here as well," he said, "so I feel deeply connected to this community."

Long has grand plans for both himself and SLO.

Nate's on Marsh is just the first cog in his new consortium NRL Food Group.

"Saddle up," he teased. "We're just getting started."

Eat, drink, and be merry

County tourist board SLO CAL (slocal.com) has a comprehensive listing of establishments offering dine-in and takeout options on Christmas and New Year's Day, with fixed-price menus, seasonal specials, and more. Check back later in December for the organization's annual listing of eateries participating in SLO CAL Restaurant Month in January. Δ

Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte is hoping for restaurant gift cards as stocking stuffers. Reach her at cwhyte@newtimesslo.com.

Tags

Add a comment