Louie & Chan (303 Broome Street) attempts to bring together the Lower East Side histories of the Italian and Chinese immigrants that passed through the neighborhood, and back when it opened, it’s kitchen was under the control of a native of Italy, who was somewhat relentless in his authenticity, down to importing a pizza-maker from across the Atlantic. That chef, Pasquale Frola, has departed, and now the menu’s getting a revamp under Kevin Chun, an alum of Yunnan Kitchen and Macao.
Despite Chun’s resume, though, he won’t be refocusing the place on the Chinese side of its back story. The chef has also consulted on Italian restaurants, and he says, “Italian food is what I really love to cook.” He notes, too, though, that he has a habit of breaking the mold, and while he’s not big on fusion, you can expect to see some nontraditional items on his list, some of which will play on Asian flavors (unfortunately, that mentality sent the pizza-maker packing, so Chun will be revamping the pies, too).
Chun says he’s most focused on good ingredients, and he’ll apply a seasonal sensibility to the menu. “When you get watermelons, corn, tomatoes in season, you don’t have to do a lot of work with them. I like to get a little creative, but I like to keep it simple. It’s about quality of ingredients and freshness.” And he’ll work to appeal to a broader range of people.
Look for dishes like an uni pasta served in the shell, a watermelon salad, sardines, and octopus. Chun’s clam pasta derives its Asian flavor from black garlic, garlic chives, and bottarga, and the chef says its been one of the most popular dishes so far. The kitchen will also run a large board of specials, with items like crispy orange duck with polenta and beans, and Chun is revamping the pizza list, too; he’s brought on a new pizzaiolo, who worked at Forcella and owned a pizzeria in Belgrade. Broadly, Chun hopes the new menu appeals to more people. “We’re still trying to figure out the demographic,” he says.
Chun will also be in charge of the food for the downstairs lounge, which should come online sometime soon. There, guests will be able to order small bites, which will skew toward finger foods, since there are no tables. And he plans to offer a late night menu, too.
See more photos on the next page.