Williamsburg is already known for its impressive restaurant roster—home to the iconic Peter Luger Steakhouse on Broadway Street, Missy Robbins’ ever-buzzy Lilia (plus Misi, too, in South Williamsburg), and Egg, one of our great restaurants to work for. So it should come as no surprise that there’s another major concept on the horizon, tentatively scheduled to open in April 2020. This week, Bâtard’s John Winterman shared with Food & Wine that he and chef Chris Cipollone are planning a new restaurant in the neighborhood, which promises “real cooking” in an elevated setting. Just a block away from Peter Luger at 134 Broadway, the (yet-to-be-named) restaurant represents Winterman’s first concept outside of a group—he’ll still be retaining his role as owner/operator at Bâtard—and Cipollone’s chance as executive chef to put his food on a stage. While brasserie might suggest purely French cuisine, the restaurant skews more broadly European, inspired by the feeling of a brasserie as opposed to the meals themselves.
“We’re calling this a brasserie because it conveys an emotion to New Yorkers of a busy restaurant with really great, approachable, delicious food, and a convivial lively atmosphere,” Winterman told Food & Wine. “An egalitarian atmosphere as well. So that’s the energy we’re going for.”
Winterman and Cipollone initially met through a separate project that didn’t pan out. With the encouragement of mutual friends, they decided to work on a restaurant of their own—one that’s long-term, and “not a two-year, three-year, five-year flash in the pan,” Winterman says. He feels Cipollone has a strong background, having earned great reviews when he was at the now-shuttered Tenpenny and Piora, and emphasizes the restaurant is going to be all about his cooking, really honing in on core ingredients and products such as braised meats, homemade pastas, roasted vegetables, and whole animal butchery.
“[These ingredients] speak to people in good times as a fun place to be, and they speak to people in economic downturns, when you want something that’s solid and comfortable,” Winterman says.
The menu isn’t finalized yet, but Winterman was able to give us a few highlights. Expect plenty of handmade pastas—something Cipollone specializes in—like bucatini cacio e pepe with kale and agnolotti with lobster and tarragon, as well as house-made breads and pastries, too. An indulgent côte de boeuf for two will be available, along with roast chicken. While there will be some snacks and small plates on the menu, Winterman considers them to be dishes for customers to enjoy as they're deciding on their meals for the night. You can have your charcuteries, and pick cheeses from a cart. But make no mistake, this isn’t the restaurant for ordering large plates for the table. Rather, the focus is on individual dishes, which Winterman hopes people will order in the traditional starter, main, dessert course-format, with some variations in between. Guests can also peruse a wine list and cocktail menu curated by a beverage director.
As for the space itself, the restaurant will be housed on the ground floor of a building developed by Joshua Caspi—with five floors of office space above it—and New York-based architect Glen Coben will design the restaurant. (He's also behind Carbone, Empellon, Del Posto, Gabriel Kreuther, and more.) Winterman wants the restaurant to fit into Brooklyn, creating a space that’s warm, inviting, and modern—a destination that becomes a neighborhood gathering spot. But don’t think that the Williamsburg location automatically means industrial-chic interiors lit by Edison bulbs. Instead, the team envisions a space that will look timelessly urban and contemporary, even 20 years from now. Think leather banquettes and beautiful sconces, exposed brick, and a private room that’s currently being referred to as “the library.” Thanks to the ground floor corner location, there’s also going to be plenty of light.
“Glen is really great at creating a warm and inviting environment, with the kind of lighting that makes people look good,” Winterman says.
As the soon-to-be owner/operator of two restaurants, Winterman will have a busy schedule, no doubt. He spent nine years working for Daniel Boulud, watching him flit between his various outposts in the city—starting at restaurant Daniel, then to Café Boulud, and then jetting downtown to DB Bistro before coming back to Daniel once more. He also cited Drew Nierporent, owner of Myriad Restaurant Group (which owns Bâtard), as a great inspiration for the project, who’s opened 38 or 39 different restaurants over the course of his career.
“It’s hectic, but it’s also the lifestyle, the fun behind it,” he explains. “And I just feel like as long as my presence is felt in both places, then I’m going to be able to pull this off.”
In the end, he’s most looking forward to the first plate of Chris’ pasta coming out from the kitchen. For the next few months, they’ll be working on menus, training staff, and watching the restaurant unfold before their eyes. Come April next year, service will start with dinner, before expanding to brunch on the weekends and eventually, lunch and a small morning concept. But on opening night, it’s that first plate that will be the telling moment—and, considering Bâtard won a James Beard Award for best new restaurant and currently holds a Michelin star, the restaurant is sure to be a promising one.
The as-yet-unnamed restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in April 2020 at 134 Broadway at Bedford in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.