The pioneering chef, who has stepped down from Gotham Bar & Grill after a 34-year tenure, aims to open his forthcoming modern Italian concept in early fall. 

By Maria Yagoda
Updated July 23, 2019
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

After 34 years as chef and owner at New York's iconic Gotham Bar & Grill, Alfred Portale is making moves. The chef tells Food & Wine that he aims to open his forthcoming modern Italian restaurant, called Portale, in early fall. As he prepares to open his solo Chelsea concept, Portale has stepped down from his role at Gotham Bar & Grill, though has remained a partner.

The new restaurant, which will open at 126 West 18th Street, "is not going to be fine dining," the chef says. "I'm going for a hip and fun, informal type of experience." He hopes to cater to the neighborhood with reasonably priced modern Italian cooking that plays all the hits. There will be a robust in-house pasta program, using grains milled from Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and a menu that features seasonally-driven Italian classics drawing from Portale's time living in Italy, as well as his French training. His cooking will evoke the stretch of riviera that connects France and Italy, where the culinary sensibility is "cool and light and casually healthy," and he plans on maintaining the decades-long relationships he's built with farmers at Union Square Greenmarket, just a few blocks away.

"I'm very, very excited about the restaurant," he says. "It's something that I've been thinking about doing for many, many years."

The wine list will be extensive, with "a lot of choices in every price category," as Portale tries to keep the restaurant as affordable as he can while operating in New York. The dining menu will be flexible in the sense that "you can come in with a group and order a bunch of things and share them, but if you want to order your own appetizer and entrée that also works well," he says.

Portale, who has maintained Gotham Bar & Grill's Michelin star since 2006 (and earned three James Beard Awards), confirms that chef Victoria Blamey has been tapped to helm the Gotham kitchen.