By the very name he gave his new restaurant that opened in Franklin earlier this year, Andrew Ackerman said the mission of Chrysalis Modern Italian is to provide a transformative experience for its guests.
From the reception he and his staff have been getting since the place opened Jan. 1, it appears Chrysalis has found its transformative niche.
“The feedback has been shockingly well,” said Ackerman, who spent the previous 10 years as sommelier at the Opryland Hotel. “Even in my wildest dreams, I never thought we’d be this well-received. … We’re here on the floor every day, and we’re really engaged with our tables and our guests, trying to feel the quality of the experience.
“In 22 years in the industry, I’ve never been more well-received. It’s just amazing.”
Chrysalis brings a twist of sorts to Italian dining. Ackerman and the restaurant’s manager, Josh Tyree, said they’ve purposely strayed from describing the cuisine as authentic or of a particular region of Italy.
“What I’ve taken away from working a lot of Italian restaurants is, it can be a little bit of a trap,” Ackerman explained. “When anyone tries to present anything being authentic or regional, inevitably you’re going to have someone say, ‘No, it’s not. That’s not how my grandmother made it.’ We also felt that a lot of Italian cuisine is a little too regimented, and too constrained.
“We felt there was a lot of room for creativity, and you can’t have that if you try to present yourself as authentic or regional. We wanted to be able to present all the amazing dishes and ingredients of Italian culture.
“What we want to do is provide a 21st century approach to a 19th century cuisine.”
That’s evident from a glance at the menu, one that features fresh takes on main dishes such as chicken breast pesto, pork loin marsala and salmon puttanesca, and a variety of small plate options. Diners can choose from a seemingly endless list of piatto items from its antipasti menu, as well as ample choices of wines and Italian cocktails.
The menu’s creativity comes from the head chef at Chrysalis, Jeff Brown, a veteran in the Nashville area restaurant industry.
“The most important reason this is working is because of the chef,” Ackerman said.
Location has much to do with the success as well. Chrysalis is located on Carothers Parkway near the intersection of Bakers Bridge Road. The previous tenant in the corner spot was also a restaurant.
“We felt that this is a well-established area with people that are very active and engaged in their community, and frankly felt that they were a little underserved in this particular category of restaurant,” Ackerman said. “The main offerings in this area are corporate chains. There is increasing demand for independent establishments that can offer unique experiences that chains don’t.
“We saw a really good opportunity, and that was coupled with this particular location. We saw this was perfect.”
Chrysalis Modern Italian is located at 9040 Carothers Parkway, Suite A201. It is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It offers “social hour” Mondays through Fridays from 2:30-5:30 p.m., with 20 percent off beer, wine by the glass and classic cocktails, and also offers 20 percent off cocktails (except house) on Tuesdays and 20 percent off wines on Wednesdays.