After much anticipation, Portuguese-inspired restaurant Uma Casa is set to open in a few weeks in Noe Valley's former Incanto/Porcellino space (1550 Church St.). Chef-owner Telmo Faria says he hopes to open the doors before New Year's Eve. (Update: the restaurant is opening on Thursday, Jan. 5th.)
Originally set to open this fall, Uma Casa has now been in the works for over a year; Faria has been running dozens of pop-ups all over the city (and in Mexico) for twice that long.
While the Incanto space has "good bones," Faria said he's still working to add the finishing touches that will give it the right feel. He's launched a Kickstarter to help raise the last bit of money needed to finish the restaurant; with eight days left, it's at about 65 percent of its $30,000 goal.
Faria, whose parents emigrated from Portugal, says that he's always wanted to cook Portuguese food, so this project is "a personal one." Though he was born in the Bay Area, his family moved back to Portugal for much of his childhood, returning to the Bay Area when he was 12.
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in 2004, Faria worked for three years at Sonoma's La Salette. He eventually became the executive chef at Tacolicious, which he departed in June 2015.
Faria says he wants Uma Casa's food to be "really approachable, and at a good price point," blending traditional and contemporary Portuguese food with Bay Area sourcing, sustainability, and seasonality."
The menu will be centered around small, shareable plates. "When you're introducing a cuisine to a city that's not familiar with it, I think it's important to make it so that people can come in and share dishes with their friends or their date," he said. "We will have small plates and little snacks, but even the bigger plates will be shareable."
The restaurant will serve both Portuguese and local beers and wines, as well as low-ABV cocktails curated by Nora Furst, Faria's business partner and beverage director. In keeping with the Portuguese theme, it'll offer plenty of port, along with other aperitifs and digestifs.
Faria says that Noe Valley neighbors have been very supportive of the restaurant. He and his staff recently participated in a block party, where they cooked food and met the community.
"At the end of the day, we are a neighborhood restaurant, and I want our neighbors to embrace us first and foremost," said Faria. "What's great about Noe Valley is that getting to it is easy, since it's off the highway and there's no downtown driving. It's walking distance from other neighborhoods, and Muni runs right in front of the restaurant."
"It's just nice to be somewhere where we can grow with the neighborhood and where the neighborhood can grow with us," he added. "We want to be here long-term, and I think this is a good neighborhood to do it."