Photo by Sydney Cromwell.
Brianna and Benard Tamburello are opening Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila next door to their current restaurant, Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato, in Moss Rock Preserve.
Benard and Brianna Tamburello used to joke that if their Moss Rock restaurant neighbors, The Boot at the Preserve, ever left, they wanted to buy that space for Vecchia Pizzeria and Mercato. So when The Boot relocated to The Grove shopping center, the Tamburellos didn’t hesitate.
“We saw an opportunity, and God led us in the right direction,” Brianna Tamburello said.
But instead of expanding their Naples-inspired, brick-oven pizza restaurant, the Tamburellos are creating something new: Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila. Their new concept will feature some familiar ideas from The Boot, including a bar and live music, but with a new restaurant and new ideas.
“We want to continue the tradition of a great neighborhood anchor restaurant here,” Brianna Tamburello said. “I think it’s going to bring a fun element to the neighborhood.”
Like with Vecchia, the Tamburellos are going to start with a limited menu before expanding it.
“Start small; get it perfect,” Brianna Tamburello said.
There will be traditional tacos like pork with chipotle sauce — a particular favorite for Brianna Tamburello — and carne asada, as well as salsas and guacamole, but Benard Tamburello is ready to try some creative options with the tacos. His ideas for the eventual full menu include Buffalo wings, soft-shell crab, oysters, cheeseburgers, Southern BBQ and Reuben sandwiches in taco form.
“It’s really going to be a surprise … We really kept the menu close to our hearts just while we fine-tune it,” Brianna Tamburello said. “I’m interested to see his [Benard Tamburello’s] creativity in a totally different something outside his comfort zone. I think it’s challenging as a chef for him, and we’re super excited to see how it ends up.”
Benard Tamburello said that while his background is in Italian cooking, there’s a surprising amount of similarity with Hispanic foods. Trade a brick oven for a fire pit and “take basil out and add cilantro,” and the two cuisines begin to overlap.
“It’s basically the same techniques, just a slightly different flavor,” Benard Tamburello said.
Brianna Tamburello said individual tacos will be between $2 and $5, with a sushi bar-style menu that offers more flexibility in ordering. Behind the bar, there will be a wide selection of tequilas from the Jalisco region of Mexico, where the tequila originated, as well as margaritas and other mixed drinks.
Eventually, they also want to add Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila will look significantly different from its predecessor. Brianna Tamburello said they moved the entrance and roughly tripled the size of the bar, as well as adding covered outdoor seating. The decor features reclaimed wood from a distillery in Kentucky, “rescued” tiles from the now-closed Carraway Methodist Medical Center downtown and tables from the U.S. Steel plant in Fairfield.
“We really wanted it to feel like a brand-new restaurant when you came in,” Brianna Tamburello said.
There also will be murals from Hoover art students inside and a professional artist outside, and Benard Tamburello said he plans to turn the restaurant fireplace into a Dia de los Muertos-style altar for his father and other family members and friends who were “inspirational in getting to this point.”
The Tamburellos are shooting for an opening in late February or early March for Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila, and Benard Tamburello said he is hoping to see “a line out the door and a vision coming to life.” They plan to have multiple soft opening events to get the staff ready for a full opening.
“I think it’s going to add a cool little element here just to balance what we have at Vecchia, and I think the neighborhood is hungry for something new,” Brianna Tamburello said.