Daniel Costa is back with a new restaurant — and three others planned

· The Pulse

Daniel Costa, the chef-owner of Uccellino and Bar Bricco, is working on not one, not two, but three new restaurants for the Citizen on Jasper apartment building.

Costa has been a major player in Edmonton's food scene since opening Corso 32 in 2010. His newest plans coincide with the opening of Bar Henry, Costa's first new spot since Uccellino opened in 2015, and the closure of Corso 32, his cosmopolitan, original concept.

"We definitely didn't close Corso because of a financial issue," Costa, chef-owner of Corso 32 Group, told Taproot. "We consciously closed it because we thought it was the right move. Because Corso was closed for two years (due to the pandemic), we were kind of like, 'You know, I think let's move along.' Corso closed on a high note."

A renovation and expansion of the adjoining Bar Bricco followed the closure. With help from The Artworks co-founder Peter Turner, Costa knocked down a wall, refreshed the interior aesthetic, and made the former Corso space cohesive with Bricco's. "We still kept the soul of what Bar Bricco is, which is a very dark, intimate, lively, place," Costa said.

Costa's new venture, Bar Henry — a Northern Italian aperitivo bar at 160, 10220 103 Avenue NW — opened in February for nighttime service (4:30pm to 11pm, Wednesday through Saturday). Daytime hours are coming in March. The idea began to take shape when Henry Singer, an Edmonton-founded luxury menswear retailer, reached out to Costa about developing something adjacent to its downtown storefront.

"The original concept was more of a café style," Costa said. "If you've been to Europe, you go into a bar in Spain or Italy and they're just called 'bars.' You go in and you can get a coffee, but at night you can also get a spritz or a cocktail, wine, some snacks. So it's kind of our interpretation of that." But Bar Henry is only part of Costa's plan. He said names and timelines for his three upcoming restaurants, set to reside in ground level of the Citizen building, aren't ready to share just yet. The complex at 10110 120 Street NW is run by ONE Properties and is 33 storeys tall. Still, Costa explained the three establishments will be a bar, a sit-down restaurant, and a lounge.

"The idea was to bring a hotel lobby experience into the base of a residential building," he said. "There's going to be a restaurant, there's going to be a central lobby feel. People can come together at all hours and have meetings. But then also at night, they can have cocktails and little snacks, along with great music. And this one will also be very dark."

Sparkling wine, chips, and menus reading "Bar Henry" on a marble table.

Bar Henry, the Corso 32 Group's collaboration with Henry Singer, is now open. Next up for chef-owner Daniel Costa? Three distinct concepts at the Citizen on Jasper apartment building. (Mack Male)

It's not every day that a luxury retailer or apartment complex asks a restaurant operator to build a new concept (or three). Costa, 39, credits his growing group of business partners for developing the capacity to move at this pace. He's also a world traveller and culinary veteran, so he has a few insights on trends to look out for in the industry.

So, as Costa surveys Edmonton's restaurant landscape, he also wants to see a few things change.

"I'm hoping that more chef-driven restaurants keep popping up in small locations, and I do think that it's necessary because build-outs right now are crazy," he said. "That's one thing in the industry, for sure. Building a restaurant is really fucking expensive. I wish that we had more pop-ups … It's a different way for a chef to express themselves, or for a restaurateur to try new concepts and events. And people want new, exciting things. People are looking for experience more than ever."

Small restaurants are well-positioned for success, he said. "When you open a smaller restaurant, I think that people can be much more expressive and creative in their concept. When you open a large space, you can become very vulnerable," he said. "I don't think Bar Henry would ever work in a large space, because it's so niche."

Costa believes a key to a restaurant's success is top-tier ingredients. He thinks menu prices will continue to rise, and diners won't pay for less than the best.

Costa, whose focus is Italian food, is excited about Lebanese, Greek, and other Mediterranean cuisines right now when it comes to the larger restaurant scene.

"There's a lot of those restaurants that are popping up in New York and London that are turning heads," he said. "If someone can pull that off, where it's a little elevated and it's a fun, interesting vibe, I think that's the trend that I'm seeing right now."