With the opening of Loosie’s Kitchen and Loosie Rouge (91 South 6th Street; no phone), co-owner Vincent Marino has injected the underside of the Williamsburg Bridge with a dose of New Orleans flair. But he decided a simple bar and restaurant based on the Big Easy wasn’t enough. “Yes, you can eat and you can drink, but you can also exchange ideas and get involved in artistic projects,” Marino told the Voice.
Marino set about creating a space where creativity can flourish any time of day, with food, music, cocktails, and décor all working together. Pushing through a blue picket gate, which acts as an entrance to the Cajun-flavored compound, guests are led down a walkway filled with lush foliage — it’s like a walk through Williamsburg’s version of the Garden District.
Bright murals painted in pink and yellow accentuate the elevated outdoor dining area, which is set with communal picnic tables for group dining. It seems conversing with strangers is encouraged (though you may wind up sitting in an elementary-school-size chair).
The interior has a Danish midcentury design, and includes a nod to the barbecue spot Fatty ‘Cue (the former tenant) — a chandelier in the shape of a pig. It’s a reminder that the kitchen is just steps away. “The design is not necessarily what you will see on the plate, but it fits extremely well together,” as Marino explained.
While a New Orleans theme is evident in most dishes, there’s also a focus on local ingredients, according to chef Paul Gioe. Several combinations, like octopus (not native to the Bayou), seared and served with grilled okra and fresno chile relish, and a pastrami carpaccio with celeriac remoulade, show an untraditional approach.
Additional main courses include fried Amish chicken thighs served with cornbread and homemade hot sauce, blackened catfish, and a shrimp po’boy. “It’s a Cajun, Southern, Creole-influenced menu more than anything,” Gioe said. “When you see catfish, when you see fried chicken, when you see okra, there shouldn’t be any doubt that you’re eating in a kitchen that’s Southern, and that’s the idea.”
The kitchen is currently serving dinner, with additional plans for lunch and brunch to debut in the coming months. Piano players make frequent appearances at the bar, Loosie Rouge, where wine, classic cocktails like the “Hurry-cane” and vieux carré, and a selection of beers (starting at $5) are available. Marino noted, “We’re trying to bring people together, and food and drink are a good excuse. Sometimes, we bring a brass band.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 31, 2015