rendering of the dining room at casa don alfonso in the ritz-carlton courtesy the johnson studio

Michelin-starred restaurateur Mario Iaccarino will open new restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton this fall

The Ritz-Carlton in Clayton will soon become the home of a new concept from Mario Iaccarino, an owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant Don Alfonso 1890, located on the Sorrento peninsula in Southern Italy. Casa Don Alfonso, which is projected to open in the luxury hotel at 100 Carondelet Plaza in November, will be his first venture in the U.S. 

Casa Don Alfonso will be located on the first floor in the space that previously encompassed The Restaurant, The Grill and Cigar Club. The space has been completely reconfigured to accommodate a new layout of those spaces. The project started two years ago when Iaccarino met the hotel’s general manager, Amanda Joiner. “The philosophy of the Ritz [and Iaccarino] go well together,” said Casa Don Alfonso general manager Alen Tanovic. “It was a no-brainer for the ownership and Amanda Joiner to start this adventure.”  

Tanovic steps into a central role at the new restaurant after a long history in the hospitality industry – he previously acted as director of operations for the hotel, and then worked for the Four Seasons for several years. “I’m coming back to my home at the Ritz-Carlton,” he said of the new project. 

The centerpiece of Casa Don Alfonso will be a Mediterranean menu inspired by the Italian cuisine of Don Alfonso 1890, which features recipes passed down from the Iacarrino family for generations. Though the menu is still in development, some dishes will include Sorrento-style gnocchi, “Grandmother Titina’s ziti” and a robust Neapolitan pizza menu. Overseeing the kitchen as chef de cuisine will be Sergio Chierego, who was previously chef de cuisine of Azzurro at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. Tanovic said that Chierego is working closely with Iaccarino on the menu.

chef sergio chierego // photo courtesy rj hartbeck

Cementing the Italian vibe is the fact that much of the food will be imported from the Iacarrino farm and estate in Italy. “We will use the olive oil that is specifically made in their family farm that they purchased in 1919,” Tanovic said. “And we get most of the [other] products from there, too, so there will be a direct line to the family.” The restaurant will also use coffee imported from the estate.  

In addition to the dining room, which will seat around 90, the bar will seat just under 50 and the lounge will offer space for an additional 30. “As soon as you enter the restaurant, you will see the U-shaped, beautiful bar,” Tanovic said. “Behind the bar will be a glass wine cellar with 2,700 bottles – temperature-controlled, top-of-the-line wines.” He explained that many will be Italian, but New World wines will also be represented, especially California. The bar menu is still in development, but a focus on signature cocktails will play a big role. 

In all, the 2,745-square-foot restaurant and 1,270-square-foot bar will offer around 200 seats. According to Tanovic, Casa Don Alfonso will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, though the development team is still figuring out what the hours will look like.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, to include information about the location within the hotel.