The first of several Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurants from model, chef, and restaurateur Franco Noriega is now open on the Lower East Side. Baby Brasa opened its doors at 129 Allen St. over the weekend, offering quarter and half chicken portions of rotisserie chickens, plus chicken sandwiches, sides, and salads. Noriega, 27, already has plans to open more locations of the take-out and delivery spot in the East Village and Soho, all with menus reflecting his diet over the last eight years working as an underwear model. Besides organic chicken, Baby Brasa offers model-friendly items like chicha morada, a Peruvian drink made from purple corn that’s "exploding" with antioxidants, Noriega says.
The space itself reflects Noriega, too. He stays fit partly by skateboarding from his home in South Williamsburg to the restaurant, so he put a rack for skateboard parking in the front. "It’s always a problem when I bring my skateboard," he says. "I decided to think about my neighbors." (He says people other than him have used it already.) He’s interested in art, so he put up pieces from artists like Juan Mont, Senor, and even a drawing by himself. (It’s in the back near the bathroom, drawn with a Sharpie and ruler.) And he loves to see people cook, so even though it’s primarily a take-out storefront, he kept the kitchen open. "You’re part of the experience of cooking," he says.
That said, Noriega may not always be making the food. He manages the front of the restaurant shirtless — Noriega’s friend Milan Kelez, also a male model, confirms that the restaurateur is constantly only half-clothed — and he’s busy trying to open his Williamsburg full-service restaurant Brasa and other Baby Brasa locations. The model/chef/restaurateur says he’ll put on a shirt if he’s in the kitchen for the health department — but that doesn’t mean the guests have to. "I love to be without a shirt," he says. "And I encourage other people to be shirtless, too." Check out the space and full menu below.