Mathieu Palombino, the man behind the ever-popular Motorino pizza empire, will open his Bowery bistro La Gamelle in under two weeks, after several months of delays. The restaurant, which the chef describes as a "classic Parisian brasserie," was originally supposed to open back in the fall of 2014, but Palombino has been kept busy by other things, including opening an outpost of Motorino in Singapore.
La Gamelle occupies the space that formally housed his casual American restaurant Bowery Diner and later Chez Jef, a bistro pop-up that served as the prototype for soon-to-open restaurant. The name loosely translates into lunchbox or cantina, but there is another meaning in French. According to Palombino, it describes a tumultuous fall down an entire flight of stairs, "which is sort of what happened to me with Bowery Diner," he says of the failed restaurant.
The fact that La Gamelle is also the name of the restaurant that preceded Keith McNally's Lucky Strike is no coincidence. In fact, noted restaurant designer Alex Gherab, who worked with Palombino on the interior design of La Gamelle, was the owner of the original, and gave the chef his blessing to use the name.
While the menu has not been finalized there will be a steak frites, a cote de bouef for two, the roast chicken that Eater's senior critic Robert Sietsema named as one of his top dishes of last year, and other French classics. Pricing is also still up in the air, although Palombino says that it will be "democratic for sure," and not too far from the affordable prices of Chez Jef. But while the pop-up principally operated as a $25 prix fixe, the chef has not made a decision as to whether La Gamelle will offer a similar deal. He's toying with the idea of a $32 prix fixe that would include the steak frites, but has not made a final decision. The wine list, selected by general manager Bruno Soubirous, will have around 110 selections, mostly French alongside some domestic labels. Most bottles will be in the $40 to $60 price range.
La Gamelle will initially be open only for dinner, with brunch coming two weeks after opening. Palombino plans to eventually serve breakfast and lunch as well, although those are still a ways out.