Pulito Osteria is a new restaurant in Jackson, Miss., that serves traditional Italian cuisine with a Southern twist. It’s helmed by Chaz Lindsay, a Jackson native who returned to his hometown after more than a decade away.
Lindsay began his culinary career as a teenager working at the local Pizza Shack, eventually leaving to sharpen his skills in New York. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New Hyde Park and then worked in some of New York City’s top kitchens, including Eleven Madison Park, Colicchio and Sons, and Craft. Looking for a new adventure, he moved to Italy and worked at a restaurant in Tuscania (which is about 60 miles north of Rome), before making his way back to the states and settling in El Paso, Texas. A few years later, he found his way back to Mississippi to establish his own concept.
“Jackson is home, and I always wanted to come back,” Lindsay said, describing Jackson’s restaurant scene as ‘small but emerging,’ and one to watch out for.
When Lindsay moved back home, wasn’t sure if he’d stay, but he soon decided to create a restaurant for his community. Pulito Osteria merges Italian cuisine with flavors of the Deep South. The dining room has a romantic vibe, with hints of red, and there’s a spacious patio for outdoor dining. The menu, which changes regularly, currently features a variety of handmade pastas, including pappardelle Bolognese and gnocchi cacio e pepe, as well as wood-fired pizzas. Entrees range from a roasted half chicken and butter-braised flounder to pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin and a massive porterhouse with port demi reduction.
Lindsay is intentional about choosing produce and proteins that are fresh and seasonal, which is a common Italian culinary process. He wants to create straightforward dishes that emphasize the flavors and textures of the ingredients.
“A great restaurant is measured by its ability to take fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and turn that into something memorable, which is my goal — to create these memories for all of our guests,” he said.
Lindsay is joined by general manager Jonathan Webb, who has worked his way through Jackson's restaurant scene, working behind the bar and managing at multiple restaurants. Webb runs the wine and cocktail program, both of which walk the line between approachable and refined. You’ll find a classic Negroni, but also a NASCAR Spritz, which combines a Miller High Life with Aperol and lemon.
“It was important for us to create a dining experience that would reflect the heart of our community, and we’ve worked hard to build a strong team that will help us achieve that mission with professional yet personal service,” Webb said.
Lindsay recognizes the differences between operating a restaurant in New York City and Jackson, and he says that you can’t talk about the two in the same light because New York has such a deep-rooted history that has impacted the global dining scene.
“And then you have my restaurant, which is slightly radical for not serving redfish,” he said. “I try to make sure that people feel they are receiving value via a new experience in Jackson. There’s a status quo that we are gently chipping away at, but still finding a way to make guests feel comfortable without realizing they are being nudged in a different direction.”
For now, Lindsay is enjoying the moment, but he’s still got an eye on the future:
“I think what we have created at Pulito is special and needs my full attention. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in El Paso, Texas, and I love a good taco…”