Last summer, word spread that Kenny Tufo and Jeff Lederman, the chef and owner, respectively, of Cobble Hill’s Bocca Lupo, would be opening a new American bistro in the neighborhood, called Strong Place. Rumors had the restaurant opening “soon,” but in the subsequent months, it failed to materialize.
But according to Kenny Tufo, the wait is nearly over. “It’s getting very close,” he tells Fork in the Road. “We’re pushing for May 1. It could even be mid-April if the world turns the right way.”
So what was behind the delay? Setbacks with plumbing inspectors and a change in work crew were part of it, but also, Tufo says, they had to do a complete build-out of the space, which used to be a gift and card shop called Shakespeare’s Sister. “I don’t think opening anytime last summer was realistic,” Tufo says. “That was never gonna happen.”
When Strong Place, named for a nearby street that Tufo calls “one of the prettiest streets in Brooklyn,” opens at 270 Court Street, customers can expect what the chef describes as a “modern American bistro” menu, with “medium-sized plates” all priced under $20. “I hate the term ‘gastropub,’ but you could kind of put it in that term,” Tufo says. “It’s upscale from pub food but definitely casual as far as the style of the food. I love re-working Betty Crocker-style recipes.” His market-driven food will include brisket and savory bread pudding, as well as a raw bar. Although his style is “definitely heavy Mediterranean in general” and his background is in French and Italian fine-dining, doing a modern American menu, Tufo explains, “just means I can use soy sauce.”
Plenty of things excite Tufo about the 50-seat restaurant, which will have 24 beers on tap and a big backyard that will seat an additional 30. But perhaps the most thrilling detail will be the one that customers won’t be able to see or taste. “We’ll have gas,” Tufo says. “I’ve been cooking without gas for three years at Bocca Lupo, so I’m very excited. It’s going to be no holds barred.”