Etrusca on Stone Street. Photo: Charlie Schuck

On Sunday, June 11, the Financial District’s Etrusca abruptly closed, just one day shy of its five-month anniversary. The Tuscan spot was one of New York’s big surprises of the year, an original restaurant — in an increasingly homogenized dining landscape — that was making noise without a massive PR budget, the backing of a big-name restaurant group, or TikTok virality. Instead, chef Elisa Da Prato was winning over fans with dishes like fresh macaroni with chamomile and lemon and fried rabbit with sage. Unfortunately, it is no more.

“The investors pulled out. The business wasn’t profitable yet, and they didn’t see a future for it on Stone Street,” Da Prato says. According to a statement posted on its website, the restaurant was “not financially viable.” (Per the SLA website, the investors are James Hendricks, Paul O’Connor, and Thomas Ryan, who have experience in other sectors of the market, namely pubs like Mad Dog & Beans.) “I mean, that’s the long and the short of it,” Da Prato continues. “They didn’t see a world or a possibility where this restaurant would be profitable in that location anytime soon, so they wanted to cut their losses and move on.”

It’s a shame because signs were pointing in the right direction. In an early review, Eater NY’s Robert Sietsema called Da Prato a “chef with a vision,” and here on Grub Street we praised her “intimate knowledge of Tuscany” and top-tier grissini. It seemed as though a major review from the New York Times could be just around the corner, one that would have made good on the investments. In fact, Da Prato says a reviewer from Gambero Rosso — “the Italian Michelin guide” — had just been in. “We were going to be in the book next year,” she says. “He was like, ‘This is exactly the kind of thing that I’m interested in because it’s Italian but it’s contemporary.’”

In his review, Sietsema points out the restaurant’s incongruous location on Stone Street, a pub strip that is no New Yorker’s idea of a restaurant row. Da Prato says as much herself, calling the location “really difficult” and saying Estruca was hidden behind pubs and different places. “In any event, I think the restaurant would’ve been much more successful had it been in a different location,” she says. It’s easy to see how this could have played out differently if the restaurant were in, say, Bushwick, Downtown Brooklyn, or the West Village. “I mean, we weren’t doing poorly. People were coming to the restaurant; we were busy at dinner. There just wasn’t enough growth fast enough for the investors to stick around.”

Now, Da Prato says she’s weighing her options. It has been a long four years: She opened her first restaurant, Elisa, in Barga, Tuscany, in 2019, only for it to close during COVID because of the temporary collapse of the tourism market. She’s thinking about doing a pop-up in the fall, and some people have already reached out to her about potential projects here. Her brother wants her to come to Los Angeles, but she would like to stay in New York. There’s some writing she’d like to get done.

“I feel positive about the future, but I’m going to be very cautious about future projects. I’d be very, very cautious about entering into something again that wasn’t super well padded,” Da Prato says. “I’m not really sure. This all happened ten days ago.”