One of Smith Street’s hottest young chefs was arrested this week and charged with a single misdemeanor charge of petit larceny, police said.
Jason Neroni, 30, the former chef at Porchetta, surrendered to police at the 76th Precinct on Wednesday, a police spokesman said, six days after he and some of his staff stormed out of the restaurant in a huff citing “irreconcilable differences.”
The “differences”? The restaurant’s owner wanted to open the eatery for lunch and serve, hold onto your toques!, sandwiches.
The fiery Neroni could bear it no longer.
The walkout was covered widely by gossip and food Web sites. Eater.com called it “the beginning of the end” for Porchetta.
Neroni never came back. On Tuesday, the restaurant’s owner, Marco Rivero, turned up the heat, telling Eater that “Jason was fired for unauthorized misappropriation of funds from the business.”
He also claimed that cops had a warrant for Neroni’s arrest.
In his own response on Eater.com, Neroni said he was “shocked” at Rivero’s accusation and swore that “there was absolutely no criminal behavior on my part or any misappropriation of fund.”
Neroni is no newcomer to the New York scene. He came to the city in 1999, working under different chefs for months at a time, while tweaking his own approach to food.
In 2004, he became the third replacement for Wylie DuFresne at 71 Clinton Fresh Food in Manhattan. When that closed, he presided over high school cooking competitions before finally going to work at Porchetta in October.
Once there, he garnered plenty of attention for the restaurant and, perhaps more importantly, for himself.
A month after Neroni took over the burners, none other than The Brooklyn Paper’s esteemed food critic, Tina Barry, credited Porchetta with curing her “Smith Street fatigue,” adding that “Porchetta adds something special” to the area with Neroni’s “imaginative, highly personal approach to the dishes.”
Two months later, the New York Times gave Porchetta a favorable one-star review. That paper’s critic, Frank Bruni, compared Neroni to famed chef Mario Batali, adding, “While Mr. Neroni may not have his act fully together, he’s definitely got the goods.”
Petit larceny involves a theft of less than $1,000 in cash or goods and carries a penalty of up to one year of imprisonment.
Rivero had no comment and Neroni was still in custody at press time.
©2007 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.