Chef leaves First and South, will host ‘PawPaw’ pop-up restaurant

Aldo Maiorana inside his Greenport coffee shop on Thursday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Aldo Maiorana inside his Greenport coffee shop on Thursday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Chef Taylor Knapp has left First and South restaurant in Greenport and will soon host a weekly pop-up restaurant under the name “PawPaw” at nearby Aldo’s Cafe.

The first dinner will be held on Monday, Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at the Front Street coffee shop, according to owner Aldo Maiorana and Knapp. That event is already completely booked.

“I’m trying to offer a different way to eat out here,” Knapp, 27, told northforker. “I want it to feel like someone invited you to their home for dinner.”

Knapp will focus on locally available ingredients, including some that might seem unusual to the average diner. He said he may use flour made from local tree bark or tea made from pine needles.

An Indiana native, Knapp studied at Johnson and Wales and later worked at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, widely considered to be one of the world’s best restaurants. He is also the owner and head snail wrangler at Peconic Escargot snail farm in Cutchogue.

“It’s an opportunity to focus on what’s available in the winter time on Long Island,” Knapp said. “It can be difficult for a lot of the restaurants doing a farm-to-table concept.”

Following the inaugural dinner on Jan. 19, weekly diners will continue on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. The cost is $65 per person which includes dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and tax. A maximum of 16 people can attend and the event is BYOB.

Knapp said the meal will be five courses with snacks served in between.

Maiorana, who currently only serves biscotti and scones along with his lattes, cappuccinos and coffees, noted Knapp will have creative reign over the event.

“The first dinner he is 100 percent in charge,” Maiorana said on Thursday.”I don’t know where it’s going to take us.”

Maiorana, who last operated a restaurant in Greenport in 2005, said he was happy to partner with Knapp.

“He’s young and ambitious, yet humble,” Maiorana said.

Knapp’s fiancé, Katelyn Luce, will head the front of the house. Expect to also see Knapp serving diners, as well.

“It’s a good opportunity to really focus on the guest,” he said.

A sample menu includes inventive dishes like Peconic Bay scallop hush puppies, goat’s milk yogurt with cauliflower and smoked anchovy and burdock and beetroot with monkish. The rotating menu is American-style and will always include local ingredients.

The name PawPaw refers to a fleshy, grapefruit-sized fall fruit found in the Midwest, Knapp said.

“Its about this experience of being able to go out and grab something that is only available for a short amont of time,” Knapp said.

Knapp described the split from First and South as amicable and said he left to focus on the snail farm.

Those who wish to make a reservation on a future date can click here.