Patron Saint of Italian Cuisine

Esteemed team invigorates Patrono’s kitchen, and our appetite for it.

stsory by by Greg Horton | photos by Trace Thomas

“Jonathan is joyful; it comes across in his food,” Robert Painter said. “He loves to cook, and he loves to feed people.”

We are sitting in Patrono, the cozy Italian restaurant just north of the Civic Center on Walker, where Jonathan Krell has recently become executive chef, and Painter is general manager. Actually, Painter hates titles. “What shall I call you then?” I ask. “I don’t care. Robert. I hate titles. We’re a team. We all work.”

Evening service—the only one the restaurant has for now—is only an hour away, and Krell has just finished putting together “family meal” for the staff. Many restaurant veterans comprise the group, including staff familiar to both men prior to the recent sale of Patrono. They all share an afternoon meal every work day.

The obligatory (and delicious) meatballs at Patrono.

Over the past 12 years, the pair have worked together off and on, and the comfort and familiarity between them are palpable. Both Krell and Painter worked for Deep Fork Group, but diners perhaps know Painter best for his work with Iguana Mexican Grill. Krell also has worked at Nonna’s, Stella, and Boulevard Steakhouse.

Krell and Painter share an affable and gregarious nature.

“I love being in a restaurant again where I can talk to people, get feedback, get to know the guests,” Krell said about his return to downtown. “I keep coming back down here, but this is the first time I’ve had this level of control of a menu. I talk to Robert about it, but if I don’t want to run something, I can say ‘no.’”

Chef Jonathan Krell

Krell then rattles off a sentence that would make many general managers and owners nervous: “I have control over the menu here.”

Full story in the Summer Issue of Territory, on stands now. For a full list of stockists, jump over the the Find a Copy page.

Krell's so-summer semifreddo.