Late summer and fall always bring a slew of new restaurant concepts and this season’s theme is clear: Italian, Italian and more Italian.
These concepts will bring authenticity, however, as most are being created by ex-pats or those from rich Italian-American cultures, like New York. In Los Angeles, for example, chef Lucio Bedon’s Vicini Ristorante spotlights his family recipes from Venice, and in San Diego Cesarina Mezzoni shows off some real nonna recipes at Elvira, named for one of the partners' great-grandmother. Meanwhile, Anthony Scotto and his wife Theresa bring a taste of Italy via Brooklyn, N.Y. at the new Pelato.
Also in Nashville, Sean Brock is converting his Bar Continental into a vinyl listening bar, with music from his own collection—Nashville is a music town, after all.
And Wolfgang Puck is creating again. In Las Vegas, his fine dining group debuted the new 1228 Main in the arts district, with an all-day café and bakery, that converts to a craft restaurant and bar at night.
And in Los Angeles, Puck is reportedly planning to redo the iconic restaurant Gladstone’s, which is one of few located directly on the beach. After 50 years, Gladstone’s is scheduled to close in October. With the help of famed architect Frank Gehry, Puck is planning to completely rework the site to an as-yet-named concept.
Here’s a look at notable openings and closings this fall:
A coastal Italian restaurant dubbed Saint Bibiana is scheduled to open Sept. 20 in Savannah, Ga. Set in a historic mansion, the restaurant by Executive Chef Derek Simcik is the first phase of the new Hotel Bardo Savannah, which is scheduled to open in February 2024, as well as a cooking school. Simcik will also handle Food and Beverage for the hotel.
The 123-seat restaurant will include indoor and outdoor seating and a 17-seat bar, of course. Saint Bibiana is named for the patron saint of hangovers.
And, speaking of bars, Nashville, Tenn., restaurateur Sean Brock is about to debut his “listening bar” concept, which will be called Bar Continental.
Inspired by Japanese tea lounges that featured jazz music, called “kissas,” the new Bar Continental will offer a dinner menu and bar service (or pastries and coffee and tea during the day).
And, of course, there will be music—specifically vintage vinyl—and an excellent sound system. The music library includes more than 5,000 records, including some of Brock’s own collection.
Bar Continental, however, will replace Brock’s fine-dining concept in the Grand Hyatt Hotel called The Continental, which will have its final day of service on Sept. 17.
The new concept will actually include two bar areas separated by an acoustical curtain, giving diners spaces where the music can be enjoyed at lower volumes.
Christophe Moser, the former director of operations for Saraghina Hospitality Group, is opening his first venture in mid-September in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. Described as New American-meets-Mediterranean, the new Neeloo was inspired by the south of France, where Moser was raised.
And it’s a family affair. Joining Moser as sous chef is his son Sean Moser (previously of Zou Zou, Gramercy Tavern, and Olmsted). And Moser’s wife Gaëlle and daughter Isabella will work the front of the house. Kevin Rojas (also formerly of Olmsted) will be chef de cuisine.
The menu will be seasonal, but look for dishes like octopus with confit tomato, almond and radicchio; or marinated eggplant and zucchini with miso, labne and puffed grains.
Chef Anthony Scotto and his wife Theresa Scotto in August opened this casual New York-Italian comfort-food concept with traditional pastas, some meat dishes and elevated street food, like focaccia, and there’s a Sunday Supper with family-style offerings. It’s the second Nashville concept for the New York transplants, who opened Luogo there eight months ago.
Groot Hospitality (Komodo, Gekko Lounge and more) and Tao Group Hospitality (Tao, Hakkasan, Lavo and more) are joining forces to open this Riviera-style Italian concept in October. It will be New York-based Tao Group’s first foray into South Florida. It will be a 366-seat indoor/outdoor venue described as “lush, leafy, stately and golden.”
Oysters all day and other seafood classics, along with low-ABV bar options, are the draw at the Little Shucker in San Francisco, which opened in August. Executive Chef Adrian Garcia (Quince, Benu, Addison) is joined by managing partners Shane Matthews, Zack Schwab, Jacob Racusin and Liv Ringo, who are also owners/partners in The Snug nearby.
Sekoya Lounge + Kitchen
Palo Alto, Calif.
Restaurateur Steve Ugur (Pausa Bar & Cookery) opened this new concept in August with chef de cuisine Jason Johnson (Adele’s Nashville; Wayfare Tavern; Quince, Chez TJ) helming the kitchen. Thai snapper crudo; grilled quail with roasted grapes; lamb tartare; and roasted sea bream.
Vicini Ristorante and Wine Bar
Chef Lucio Bedon opened this “love letter to Veneto,” where he was raised, in August. Bedon plans to cure his own sardines, using a family recipe, and serve up dishes like Bigoli in Salsa with toasted bread crumbs; squid ink risotto with grilled cuttlefish; a prime bone-in ribeye; and Chicken Paillard.
The team of Prince Riley, Athena Riley, Kassady Wiggins and Sammy Monsour opened Joyce in downtown LA in August. Monsour (Preux & Proper) created a menu of soulful Southern dishes with a Carolina influence, such as Black Tiger Prawn and Oyster Perloo; a hickory-smoked tomahawk pork chop; and cornmeal-crusted Nashville hot catfish. Wiggins’ bar menu also has a zero-waste focus.
Roman cuisine is the inspiration for this new concept by Cesarina Mezzoni, co-founder of Cesarina Group with Niccolo Angius and Giuseppe Capasso, all Italian ex-pats. Scheduled to open in October, Elvira will be the group’s second concept, following the opening of Cesarina Ristorante, also in San Diego. It’s named for Niccolo’s great grandmother and a private dining room, dubbed Cucina di La Nonna, is designed to look like the original Elvira’s home. Look for wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas and seasonal Roman entrees, along with Italian spirits and wines on draft from the Lazio region and served vino della casa in carafes.
Coda Restaurant Group (The Salty Pig, SRV) opened the modern Italian Gufo over the summer, with Andrew Herbert as executive chef. It’s designed for communal dining with boards with different bites and other shared plates, as well as pizza. In addition to dine-in, there’s a café with to-go offerings, coffees, pastries and sandwiches.
Wolfgang Puck is at again with longtime partners David Robins and Tom Kaplan in Las Vegas, where they have opened 1228 Main in the downtown arts district. It’s a 6,000-square-foot artisan bakery and café by day and craft restaurant and bar at night. On the menu at dinner: grilled California squid with gigante beans, Castelvetrano olives, herbs and lemon; or truffled chicken pot pie with puff pastry. At lunch, pair house-baked breads with niçoise tapenade, anchovy, goat cheese and thyme or chicken foie mousse.
David Chang is reportedly closing the Momofuku Ssam Bar on Sept. 30. The New York chef had tried moving the restaurant to the Seaport in 2021 after 15 years in the East Village, but it seems to have lost its way. Chang did not give a reason for the closure.
The 50-year-old restaurant Gladstone’s in Los Angeles, one of few located on the beach, is scheduled to close for good in October. But the space is reportedly going to be completely reworked by Wolfgang Puck, with the help of famed architect Frank Gehry. Puck hasn’t said what he’s planning for the spot, but it will include a full-service restaurant alongside a more casual food-and-beverage outlet for those visiting the beach.
Union Square Hospitality Group in August closed the concepts Marta and Maialino, which were both in The Redbury Hotel in Manhattan. The hotel was repurposed as housing for asylum seekers that have been flowing into the city since last spring. USHG expressed support for the hotel’s decision to offer housing and said the group will continue to advocate for policy change to expedite work permits for those asylum seekers.
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