The Providence G has named Robert Sisca executive chef for all of its culinary ventures: GPub, the Rooftop and Garde de la Mer. Although he spent much of his career in highly regarded restaurants in NYC and Boston, Robert has roots here in L’il Rhody – and he’s excited to be back. We met up to talk about his artistic visions for Garde de la Mer and how he plans to bring Providence G to new culinary heights.
You started cooking in Providence and spent a lot of time in premier kitchens in NYC and Boston. Tell us about your journey and why you came back to Rhode Island.
I came to Providence in 1999 to attend the Johnson & Wales University culinary program. During that time, I worked at Gracie’s when it was located on Federal Hill. That was my first venture into fine dining. Then I moved to NYC and worked at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. That experience made me want to move up and see what I could do at a higher level. I landed at Le Bernadin and finally chef partner at Bistro du Midi in Boston.
Le Bernadin was incredible: the precision, the accuracy, the ultimate fine-dining kitchen experience. I had no idea I would last there for five years. I started at Bistro Du Midi eight months before we opened the doors. It was my baby right from the beginning. But then I met Colin Geoffrey from the Providence G. I came in, looked at the building and the space and thought, “this is incredible. I would love to be a part of this.”
Now that you’re executive chef, how will you give Providence diners something new with Garde de la Mer?
Garde de la Mer opened as a French seafood restaurant, so I really want to showcase that style of cuisine I’ve worked with my whole life. We’re going to make the dining experience more fun. We’re taking the tablecloths off. We’re changing the menu to focus on small plates and a sharing atmosphere. We want our guests to have fun and be adventurous. There will be more crudo dishes, grilled octopus and hand-made pastas. As Chef Repirt would say, “keep the fish the star of the plate. Don’t overpower anything and keep everything simple.”
If you were to write down your “guidelines for cooking” and frame them for all your cooks to see in the kitchen, what would they be?
Tasting is my biggest thing. It’s easy to become accustomed to what things taste like. But every minute is different in a kitchen. A dish may need a little more salt, pepper, acid or different textures. If you don’t constantly taste your cooking, you won’t know how it’s coming out for the guest.
The next is consistency. When a guest comes in March and tries a dish, and then comes back in April and orders that dish again, they should experience a consistent level of quality. Maybe the menu has changed through seasonality, but they’re still getting that amazing bite they remembered from last time.
What kind experience do you want people to leave with?
I want to wow the guest. I want it to taste amazing and be visually stunning. Chefs are artists in their own way. Their heart and soul is on each plate. I want our guests to see my work of art on the plate. They should have fun with the food, be adventurous and try different things.
Describe your signatures dishes.
Spanish octopus has been one of my signatures. We braise the octopus for three hours in a stew with prosciutto, a little bit of mirepoix (celery, carrots and onion), sherry vinaigrette and olive oil. After it’s nice and tender, we grill the octopus “to order.” Another favorite of mine is grilled Mediterranean sea bass with chorizo, broccoli rabe and a little bit of blood orange. That’s definitely one of my signature dishes for the winter and early spring.
Outside of Garde de la Mer, what can we expect to see at the Rooftop and GPub?
I want to keep each of the three venues separate and unique. The Rooftop has a great view and scenery. There will definitely be more presence of a raw bar during the summer with oysters, clams, shrimp cocktail and crudo dishes. The menu will be broken down into cold and hot plates, so you can go up there and get a great dinner, but we’ll also include a nice burger choice and house-made gnocchi. For the GPub, we’re going to work some French classics in there like steak frites and croque madame, and some more “gastro pub-style” dishes.
Providence G Restaurants
100 Dorrance Street