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Get ready for retro.
NYC scene-watchers, today you get a long-awaited update on what promises to be one of the year's blockbuster restaurant openings. Over at the Times, Jeff Gordinier has revealed what the Major Food Group (Jeff Zalaznick and the F&W Best New Chef duo of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone) plans do in Midtown's iconic Four Seasons space. In the six years since Torrisi Italian Specialties emerged with its idiosyncratic tasting menu on Mulberry St., this team has established a staggeringly strong lineup of restaurants that frequently reference past moments in New York's dining history. This project marks the first time they've worked with an actual piece of that history. The pertinent details:
The venue will feature two distinct spaces, one retro and one modern. Carbone is developing the concept for the Grill Room, where he'll recreate meat-centric, meticulously-researched dishes from the restaurant's early years. "I want to be playing in the J.F.K. world. He’s my muse," the chef told Gordinier. Torrisi's Pool Room will be all about modern opulence, with a menu focused on seafood and vegetables. His pitch: "I want this to be the No. 1 room in New York and in America where you go to celebrate."
The group will make no significant design changes to the rooms, a decision born largely from restriction (the building is landmarked). Carbone doesn't seem to mind: "We don’t feel handcuffed because you can’t change the greatest restaurant space ever built." That said, pretty much everything in those rooms will have to change, because the restaurant's current contents are headed to auction in July. This being the Major Food Group, expect extravagance. Writes Gordinier, "They have hired a craftsman in Mexico City to construct huge, elaborate guéridons, or trolleys, that will be used in the Pool Room for the tableside presentation of certain seafood dishes."
A third space in the building is planned, but details are scarce. The architect Peter Marino has been tasked with redesigning that room completely.
There will be no tasting menu. That moment, Carbone says, is past.