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Chef Chit Chat: Anthony Sitek & The Crown Republic

March 27, 2019

Chef Anthony Sitek first came to visit Cincinnati in his college years, with his now-wife Haley Nutter-Sitek, a Cincinnati native. Sitek remembers that back then OTR, meaning the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati, “was still a place you could not venture into.” Over the years, the couple watched the remarkable growth of the area, and decided it was something they wanted to be a part of. Having met at Johnson & Wales University, a culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island, the husband and wife duo bring culinary experience from many different cities in the eastern United States, such as New Jersey, Chicago, and Miami. They now own and run Crown Republic Gastropub together in downtown Cincinnati, with Anthony as the Executive Chef and Haley, the General Manager. “We knew that we could help the food scene thrive, and we were excited to plant our roots and raise our family here,” Sitek reflects. Haley and Anthony have two boys, Aiden (7) and Pierson (3). Crown Republic Gastropub has been open for breakfast, lunch and dinner since June 2018, and has been flourishing ever since.

Their restaurant, known for its everything-made-from-scratch offerings, has a slight Mediterranean-influence, but is really a “reflection of a melting pot cuisine,” as Sitek puts it. The meats are smoked and cured in house, the dressings and sauces are made from scratch, and so is the pasta. As a result, seasonal availability plays a large part in their day to day operations. “You can taste the difference when produce is in or out of season. We rotate our menu to make sure we are only serving the freshest ingredients - from our side dishes to entrees, even down to our cocktails - we want to make sure we are putting the freshest and most sustainable products in front of our guest,” Anthony explains. Anthony learned to cook from his Italian grandmother as a child, but his first restaurant job was at Mediterra in Princeton, NJ. “Their sister restaurant had a 2-acre farm attached to it, where we would get all of our produce from. This restaurant and its restaurant group really broadened my horizons when it came to "farm to table" cuisine. I fell in love with their flavor profiles and how similar they could be to what I grew up with,” Anthony adds. Signature dishes served at CRG include the house-made Gnocchi Sorrentina, with tomato, burrata and basil, and the Farro Salad, with roasted sweet potatoes, fennel, arugula, dates, goat cheese and cornbread croutons. Sometimes specials like the house-made Chorizo & Clams make an appearance, served with house-made Ciabatta bread. Their Saturday brunch features classic delicacies like Steak & Eggs and house-made Pastrami Hash. Sundays the restaurant is closed so the employees, as well as the owners, are free to enjoy family time.

Another commendable aspect to CRG is its mindfulness about being a restaurant that can serve everyone in its community. They try to keep prices below $20 and even offer a signature Business Special, giving customers the option to add on a $2 “adult soda” to any lunch entrée. Sitek says “At the end of the day, we just want to create dishes that everyone can enjoy. We aren't here to put a hole in your wallet. We wanted to be the place where you can come 2-3 times a month and not sweat it, rather than once every 6 months.” Being family run and operated, the owners know firsthand why it’s important to be sensitive to such things.

And speaking of adult sodas, being a Gastropub after all, CRG also delivers an eclectic beverage menu, with signature craft cocktails, seasonal drafts and $3 tall boys. Just like the kitchen, everything is made from scratch. Syrups and purees are created daily, and the juices are even juiced in house. Fresh and refreshing cocktails are quite clearly an important part of the establishment’s culture. 

When asked how the duo rewards themselves after a long day of hard work, there is no hesitation when they answer with one of their pasta dishes. As Haley puts it, “a nice warm bowl of fresh pasta is really the best way to end any day!” We couldn’t agree more.

 

Written by Marianna Marchenko