Paragary’s new chef promoted from within

Paul DiPierro is the new chef de cuisine at Paragary’s.
Paul DiPierro is the new chef de cuisine at Paragary’s. Carla Meyer

Paragary’s restaurant has promoted executive sous chef Paul DiPierro to chef de cuisine, the position recently vacated by Scott Ostrander, who has taken a job at the Inn at Park Winters.

DiPierro, 29, had worked beside Ostrander since Paragary’s reopened in June after a $1 million makeover, and before that, at Paragary Restaurant Group’s Esquire Grill.

A Rio Americano High School graduate, DiPierro received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in St. Helena. Before Esquire Grill, he worked at St. Helena’s acclaimed Restaurant at Meadowood and at Sacramento’s The Kitchen.

It’s been a smooth transition since Ostrander left, DiPierro said: “Scott and myself have similar ideologies with food. We both have a fine-dining background, and (show) attention to detail.”

DiPierro reports to Paragary Restaurant Group executive chef Kurt Spataro.

Customers will notice recent menu changes, Paragary’s owner Randy Paragary said. But they’re tied to the change in season rather than Ostrander’s departure.

The restaurant’s fall menu varies from night to night, but squash will be a steady presence, in selections like the kabocha squash risotto fritters appetizer found on the menu last week. Fall also factors in Paragary’s wood-fired pizza, which holds Brussels-sprouts leaves, and Little Gem salad, which features pumpkin seeds and pomegranate.

Chilled lamb’s tongue, which Paragary’s served when it first reopened, and which seemed daring at the time, did not last. Nor did a leg-of-lamb offering.

“There were things we changed based on customer comments and practicalities,” Paragary said. “‘Is a dish so fussy that it slows the kitchen down?’ Those adjustments are always part of a new restaurant opening.”

Paragary’s makeover might have extended the restaurant’s patio season. Glass doors between dining room and patio – new with the remodel – have made the patio “part of our aesthetic,” Paragary said.

Pre-renovation, patio furniture sat under tarps or in storage during the coldest winter months. Now “we don’t want the patio to look abandoned,” Paragary said. Canvas hung over the patio for shade on warm days might also help contain warmth on cooler days, Paragary said.

Factor in the patio’s heaters and fireplace, and it might be possible to dine alfresco on a mild December day. But not a rainy one: The canvas isn’t water-proof.