Ella’s by Christian Petroni captures the flavorful authenticity of Italian cooking

Ella's by Christian Petroni
Ella's by Christian Petroni / Ella's by Christian Petroni

While Nashville might not necessarily mimic the look of the Italian coast, the flavors, ambiance, and vibrancy of Ella’s by Christian Petroni captures the essence of an exceptional Italian meal. Gathering around the table offers a bounty of delicious food and inspires spirited conversation.

Food Network fans have watched Christian Petroni’s journey. From earning the title of Next Food Network Star to empathizing with this pandemic restaurant struggles on the documentary, Restaurant Hustle, viewers are connected to the talented chef. He is the chef that you want to sit down, enjoy a plate of his food, and engage in a spirited, thoughtful conversation.

At Ella’s by Christian Petroni, the restaurant captures what people expect from a menu curated by Petroni. The table is full of Italian favorites, shareable plates, and food that fills the stomach and the soul.

During a conversation with Chef Christian, he shared the inspiration behind this endeavor, how people are responding to his culinary offerings, and why being his authentic self is vital to his success. While the chef always shows his personality on food television, his genuine, thoughtful, and positive outlook on his culinary journey is inspiring.

When asked why branching out to a Nashville restaurant fit into his career, Chef Christian believes that this opportunity allowed him and his operating partner to add their flare to a restaurant property that appeals to both travelers and locals. More importantly, he believes “having the ability to cook food that I grew up with, that resonates with me, that I love” and seeing how that food “resonates with other people” makes him very lucky. The stars aligned for this opportunity, and he could not be happier.

The enthusiastic response from dinners comes from one key factor, the food is authentic coastal Mediterranean, coastal Italian. These dishes and flavors are the ones that Chef Christian grew up eating.

He said, “every summer my family would go to Italy, a little island off the coast of Naples. I would experience the authentic island cuisine. My lens on what Italian food is dances between authentic Italian and the style that evolved here in America.”

That approach can be seen on Ella’s by Christian Petroni’s menu. His iconic sauce, that simmers for hours, to classic dishes with his own personal flare, guests happily linger around the table to eat, talk, and enjoy the total experience.

That vast appeal comes from what Chef Christian does best. Offering a craveable dish that appeals to the person who has a nonna who stood by the stove all day to the person who only has a frame of reference from a restaurant.

As he explained, “you have to think about the approachability factor. I want to celebrate signature dishes, flavors, and authentic recipes but not stray too far away from what I do best.”

Over a few laughs, Chef Christian admits that many people have probably had a bad chicken parmigiana in their life. He wants to erase that bad food memory with his soulful cuisine.

Chef Christian Petroni said, “I cook food that people want to eat.”

While much of Ella's by Christian Petroni’s menu features dishes that people know, it is more than familiarity that makes people hungry. He believes that authenticity and focusing on food that people want to eat is key to his success.

Chef Christian said, “if you are able to be the most authentic version of yourself, whether it is the food that you’re cooking or the way that you present yourself,” people will respect it. That approach is why people want to support him, and they can taste that commitment in his food.

Since Italian food is best enjoyed in a family style meal, Ella's by Christian Petroni invites that communal experience. From shareable plates to the overall atmosphere, the space feels lively and inviting.

Chef Christian believes that from the moment a guest crosses the threshold till they leave, the experience should feel like “they are coming home” or “waking into someone’s house.” Overall, the focus is about making “people feel good.” More importantly, he believes that every guest should understand how grateful the restaurant is that they chose to dine with them.

Given the pressures and tumultuous nature of the hospitality industry, his "coming home" goal might be intangible, but it is vital. The difference between success and failure comes down to the connection between the diner and the dining experience.

As more people experience a meal by Ella's by Christian Petroni, the ambiance and taste will have them excited to come back time and again. Christian Petroni succeeded in showcasing his authentic self through this curated menu and that commitment will bring the restaurant success.

Ella's by Christian Petroni is located in Downtown Nashville, inside the Hyatt Centric. Reservations, operating hours, and menus can be found on the restaurant’s website.