“It feels like I’m waiting for the school bus on the first day of school — I’m that giddy,” says Artley, who officially starts his new job today although his employer is closed for service on Mondays.
Artley replaces Chris Nye, who took over the kitchen from Edan MacQuaid, the original pizzaiolo at Orso. Nye had been a sous chef at the formal 2941 , whose operators own the popular pizza restaurant; he plans to cook at Birch & Barley , the beer-themed dining destination in Logan Circle, sometime in March.
Artley’s hiring begs the question: Does he have any experience making Neapolitan pizza, Orso’s signature dish?
He does now. His bosses recently sent him to Marina del Rey, Calif., for a week of training at VPN Americas , an international nonprofit organization that cultivates the art and traditions of Neapolitan pizza. The chef’s proudest moment of the certification process was when the pie for his practical exam was met with a buss and a hug from an instructor, who asked him, “Are you sure you’re not Italian?”
Although Artley got a call from a potential employer the day his separation from Evening Star was announced, he wanted to take some time off before committing to another full-time gig. “I wanted to make sure the next place was going to be a good fit,” says the chef, who turns 35 in March. The closest he got to returning to a professional kitchen was his week-long pop-up restaurant, Project 2312, staged earlier this winter in unoccupied space loaned out by Pork Barrel BBQ in Alexandria.
Artley plans to interview his new staff and Orso diners before making any changes on the menu, but he intends to keep it simple. “I want to continue to grow as a chef,” he says, “but I’ve never been a foam or a froth guy,” a reference to trends that have emerged in the wake of so-called molecular gastronomy. One thing he learned to do during his time off was make his own burrata, a cheese he’d like to serve to his new audience.
“I want to turn a good neighborhood restaurant into a great neighborhood restaurant.”
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