Nico Heirloom Kitchen tinkers with its menu to bring customers new experiences

Wood-Fired Salmon, Nico Heirloom Kitchen
The Wood-Fired Salmon ($24.99) has a butternut squash puree, apple fennel slaw, charred broccolini and basil oil. (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Wood-Fired Salmon ($24.99) has a butternut squash puree, apple fennel slaw, charred broccolini and basil oil. (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The menu and the cocktail list are ever changing at Nico Heirloom Kitchen thanks to the efforts of owner Brad Kircher (left) and Chef Eric Rippey. (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Nico Benedict ($13.99) has poached eggs dressed with mortadella, spinach and a calabrese hollandaise on focaccia. (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Pan-Roasted Chicken ($22.99) has sage sweet potato, beach cap mushroom gravy, crispy kale, arugula and balsamic. (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Butternut Pesto ($17.99) has campanelle pasta with sage pesto, roasted butternut, wild mushroom, toasted walnut and spinach. It can be served with lobster ($36), filet tips ($25) or shrimp ($25). (Isabella Short/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eric Rippey was 5 years old when he took up cooking, experimenting with fresh ingredients and herbs in his home.

“My mom would come in and be like, ‘What are you doing? You’ve got pots and pans and whisks and everything all over the kitchen,’” he said. “I was just always in the kitchen creating stuff.”

Now at age 25, Rippey is encouraged to do much the same in his job as chef at Nico Heirloom Kitchen, the upscale Italian eatery on the Heritage District’s Restaurant Row.

Owner Brad Kircher has Rippey in the kitchen whipping up new creations that vie for a menu spot.

“It doesn’t have to be Italian, so long as it tastes good and we stick to our roots,” Kircher said. “Ultimately, it’s fresh ingredients and trying to always do better, always make additions to make it a little bit better and put some flavors together that maybe you don’t think should go together.”


Kircher’s background was in corporate restaurants with Brinker International, which operates Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants. He said that gave him an education in processes and maintaining consistency.

He and his wife, Melody, opened Nico in 2016.

“We just try to bring good food to downtown Gilbert,” he said. “Over a four-year period, we’ve started to hit our stride. More people know about it. More people are starting to understand what we do.”

The menu changes constantly as Rippey’s creations are added and others are taken away. Kircher wants the menu to stay small so the restaurant can execute its dishes perfectly each time.

Some customers can be disappointed to find a favorite dish gone, but other regulars look forward to trying what is new, Kircher said.

“I want to create a kitchen environment where it’s not just you come in and you’re doing the same thing over and over again,” Rippey said. “It’s constantly changing. It’s not a muscle-memory job. I want the creative juices in your mind flowing.”

Nico Heirloom Kitchen

366 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert

480-584-4760

www.nicoaz.com

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.,

Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
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By Tom Blodgett

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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