Chef and owner of Youngstown’s beloved Jaguar at the Bistro, Victor Parra Gonzalez, will open his much-anticipated new restaurant, Las Puertas, later this year. Las Puertas, or ‘the doors,’ located in city’s vibrant West Side, will be an intimate space seating only 35 guests. This is considerably smaller than Jaguar at the Bistro, which seats roughly 150. The size of the restaurant will encourage interaction between the kitchen and guests, and allow Parra Gonzalez to express more fully his creative culinary potential. Moreover, the restaurant’s location within the city will make Parra Gonzalez’s cooking more accessible to many current and soon-to-be fans.
Readers of Buffalo Rising may recall the Indiegogo campaign that Parra Gonzalez launched a while back to finance Las Puertas. Although Parra Gonzalez did not achieve his goal, the campaign ignited a sense of excitement about his project. Indeed, it was through news of the Indiegogo campaign that I first learned about Las Puertas. During my chat with Parra Gonzalez, I asked him whether his failure to meet the funding goal forced him to compromise his plans for Las Puertas. He assured me that it did not. Instead, Parra Gonzalez has put everything on the line to see to it that his vision for the restaurant becomes a reality. Undoubtedly, there have and will continue to be minor changes along the way; however, Parra Gonzelez has remained faithful to his original plans for the restaurant.
Parra Gonzalez studied at the École Hôtelière des Laurentides in Montreal where he developed a decidedly French approach to cooking and operating a restaurant. As a chef, he places a great deal of emphasis upon technique and presentation. He is also committed to serving complex dishes using elements that must be created in stages within the kitchen. Virtually everything – queso fresco, sauces, tortillas — will be made in house with the highest quality local (when possible) ingredients. Parra Gonzalez hopes to change the way that his guests think about various well-known Mexican dishes.
When dining at Las Puertas, you should not expect to see the ubiquitous oval dish divided into rice, beans, and entree, found at popular Mexican restaurants throughout the United States. Instead, Parra Gonzalez will challenge your palate and assumptions about classic Mexican dishes. His culinary style combines an understanding and appreciation of tradition with a meticulous but passionate commitment to artistry and refinement.
Parra Gonzalez and his team have put considerable thought and attention into the physical space of the restaurant. In keeping with the restaurant’s approach to food, they created a space that is classic but contemporary. According to Jean-Michel Reed, the interior designer behind the project, the “entire restaurant is laid out so that the kitchen is always a part of the space.” This, along with other design choices, makes the restaurant feel “bright and open—a space that people want to be in.”
Parra Gonzalez has not set a date but hopes to be open by the end of the year.