Ombra Names New Chef, Rafael Vargas, Debuts Winter Menu

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Rafael Vargas at Ombra. Photo: courtesy Ombra

We liked Ombra (aka Bar Ombra) from the moment we stepped into its Venetian bar meets Martian Old West atmosphere, and we were made happy by the comfy bar snacks which, within their own minigenre, seemed one of the most authentic-to-Italy Italian food experiences to be had in town. We were less happy when we saw the menu never change, and with the departure of Carlos Ysaguirre, chef of the whole Anteprima-Acre-Ombra complex, for Austin last year, we wondered if Ombra would remain a place worth keeping tabs on. Happily, some of our concerns seem to be allayed by the appointment of Rafael Vargas as Chef de Cucina for Ombra. Vargas worked under Ysaguirre to open the Acre side of the business, and has been involved with The Harvest Cafe, a farm to table restaurant in central Illinois. But the other interesting part is that he's tackling changing the menu with the seasons, bringing in some heartier dishes for winter such as Chianti-braised short ribs and duck lasagna. Which means we look forward to what spring and summer will bring, too.