By Anna Grace Usery
Oxonians lamented the loss of authentic Italian take-out eatery Tarasque when it left its initial location on 14 County Rd. 307 in September of last year in hopes of relocating. However, as a surprise to many locals who can’t get enough of their homemade pastas, crusty garlic bread and innovative appetizers, they are officially back in business whipping up all of their favorites.
Owners John and Lauren Stokes officially celebrated opening night April 11 in their new location, a house behind Kiamie’s Package store—located at 1611 Jackson Ave. West—that used to house a restaurant. In an Instagram post on April 12, Tarasque owners expressed their gratitude to the community saying, “it wouldn’t have been possible without the ridiculous support of our friends and family.”
While the dining area is not yet open, food is available for pick up and Landshark delivery Wednesday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Chef tastings are still a-go, Lauren said, but have not yet been announced.
Lauren Stokes, owner of the husband and wife-run eatery, said being in the new space felt so right like they were meant to be there.
“We saw so many dear faces (this weekend) and everyone was so supportive,” she said. “It’s completely overwhelming in the best way.”
Lauren said in a previous interview the menu will stay the same—charred radicchio salads, pappardelle bolognese, rigatoni with sausage and peppers, linguine with shrimp and cream and homemade garlic bread, among others—but they will try to incorporate more vegetables and chef specials like their famous butterbean hummus.
She said an added bonus to the experience was honoring those who cooked and created in the house before them. The descendants belonged to the Kiamie family, who now operate the wine and liquor store in front of the restaurant, and began their flagship restaurant in 1952.
The house where Tarasque sits was the home of the Kiamies for three generations, according to Lauren. She said they are honored to operate out of a space that saw decades of Oxford restaurant and nightlife history.
“The Kiamies love the space and how we’ve honored their family’s restaurant history in Oxford and that means the world to us,” Lauren said.
Another addition to the space is Gretchen Williams’ Heartbreak Coffee, a small-batch coffee roastery that made its local debut in the Hendricks building—the former location of Yalobusha Brewery—in Water Valley. Heartbreak’s opening date has not yet been announced.
Lauren said the restaurant still has its brown bag license, meaning patrons can bring wine and liquor that’s encased in a brown paper bag to enjoy with chef’s tasting dinners on the premises.