Terra Momo, a local restaurant group owned and operated by brothers Carlo and Raoul Momo, will operate a restaurant and cafe in the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, in the space currently occupied by the Dinky station.
The restaurant and cafe are slated to open in summer 2015.
The University chose Terra Momo to operate the new restaurant and cafe because of the group’s long-standing ties to the community, said Kristin Appelget, University director of community and regional affairs and former president and CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, the University was looking for a restaurant organization that would operate both the restaurant and cafe, which Terra Momo said it was interested in doing.
Appelget also mentioned that the selection committee was interested in the sustainability of the restaurant candidates. Members wanted to know whether the restaurants they interviewed recycled or served food that was locally grown.
Terra Momo’s restaurant, Raoul Momo said, would be a “many-craft kitchen that would serve with local ingredients,” with an emphasis on artisanal baking and pasta-making. He added that by "craft," he meant a method of preparing food with minimal processing and the ability to be served fresh.
“No one does that in America anymore,” he said, referring to this craft process. “We’re going back to what we used to be, which is what the consumer wants.”
“Local,” according to Momo, is defined as “within an immediate radius of where you live.” Many of the ingredients used in the restaurant meals would come from farms within a 26-mile radius of the Princeton area, he said. He added that during the "summer" season from May to October, more than 50 percent of the food would be locally sourced.
Momo said that the cafe would be similar to a typical cafe in Italy. Breakfast would be “coffee-oriented,” with menu offerings like fresh brioche and frittata. Lunch and dinner would serve pizzetta (individual pizzas), pasta and gelato as well as artisan-crafted foods such as focaccia.
A meal, including a drink, would cost an average of $25 at the cafe and an average of $45 at the restaurant, Momo said.
Appelget mentioned several groups that might be interested in patronizing a new cafe and restaurant on the Arts and Transit site. She cited patrons of McCarter Theatre as an example, and noted that the McCarter administration had told her that “having dining options close to McCarter is one of the top requests that they get from patrons.”
Potential clients, said Appelget, would also include faculty and staff members who work in nearby locations, such as the Lewis Center for the Arts, the New South Building and the MacMillan Building. Furthermore, she said that the eateries’ close proximity to student dormitories would make them of interest as dining options for students.
Construction of the Arts and Transit Neighborhood is scheduled to begin this year and is set to be completed in 2017. The project covers an area east of Forbes College and south of McCarter, and includes, in addition to the restaurant and cafe, plans for the relocation of the Dinky station and the Wawa.
Appelget said that while negotiations with Terra Momo have yet to begin, as the group has just been selected, Terra Momo will proceed to sign a letter of intent and a lease on the restaurant space.
“We’re very excited to be getting started,” she said, “and we’re really looking forward to working with Carlo and Raoul.”
Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated the title of Kristen Appelget. She is the former CEO and President of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. The 'Prince' regrets the error.