Peter Poulakakos is behind a number of New York City’s restaurants and bars, including The Dead Rabbit, Harry’s Cafe & Steak, and a forthcoming massive market in Battery Park City. He’s partnered with a number of people on those projects, including Dave Oz, with whom he opened Bathtub Gin in Chelsea.
That duo is gearing up to debut a new concept on the Bowery: Bacchanal (146 Bowery, 646-355-1840), which Oz is describing as a “casual fine dining restaurant,” will open its doors in May.
“I come from finance, but I’ve always worked in hospitality on the side, and my dream was to go into hospitality, which I did with Bathtub Gin — that was my first venture in owning a place,” says Oz of his history. “Peter and I have known each other since we were 12. After we created Bathtub Gin, we said, ‘Why don’t we do a restaurant?’ He hadn’t done a restaurant in awhile.”
So the partners found a space, choosing the neighborhood for its dynamic vibe and its potential. “With Bathtub Gin, the area itself was a growing area and a little off the beaten path — we didn’t want to be in the middle of everyone,” says Oz. “It’s the same thing here. The space fit our criteria and size, and we love the Lower East Side and Chinatown area. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the Lower East Side, but not a lot on Bowery and Broome. A lot of people live here, and going four or five blocks to a restaurant is kind of far. So we saw the potential for growth, and we really love the area and the feel.”
And as they build out their address, they’re working to make it feel like it’s been there for years. “We’re not trying to stand out with some modern look,” says Oz. “We used a lot of steel, a lot of distressed plaster and distressed wood. It’s very casual. It’s a white tablecloth restaurant without the white tablecloths.”
The partners brought on Scott Bryan as executive chef, and his menu follows suit: The Mediterranean-slanted New American menu is heavy on small plates — including sweetbreads, gulf shrimp, and grilled octopus — with pasta and entree sections that offer dishes like swiss chard and ricotta agnolotti and roast chicken with mascarpone polenta.
Poulakakos has built many bar programs over the years, and the beverage offerings here reflect that. “It’s very wine-driven,” says Oz. “We wanted to create a wine list that is robust but still approachable, so whether you’re a connoisseur or a beginner, you still feel comfortable.” Ivan Mitankin, who co-owns Vintry Wine & Whiskey and Bathtub Gin, curated the 450+ bottle selection with a focus on Old World wines and New World producers working with Old World styles. Bacchanal will also have a Coravin system, which will allow the restaurant to pour from bottles without popping corks, thereby keeping wine fresh (and allowing rarer bottlings to be poured by the glass).
The partners also brought on Saxon and Parole’s Naren Young to build the cocktail program, who’s creating a drink list he’s calling “hyper-seasonal and approachable,” with many low-alcohol offerings on the list in addition to boozier tipples. And Bacchanal will offer a number of local and international craft beers, too.
“We’re hitting the trifecta,” says Oz. “We’ll have excellent food, a great wine list and excellent cocktails, and a high standard of service in a very casual, comfortable setting.”
The partners have sent a tentative opening date of May 20, when they’ll begin serving dinner. Eventually, they’ll open for brunch on weekends, too.
And look for future collaborations from this team: “We do anticipate doing many more projects together,” says Oz. “Our goal is one every year-and-a-half to two years.”
Click through for a couple of food photos.