These days, going into a fashionable restaurant and ordering a high-end healthy meal is routine, but before 2000, fashionable clean fare was harder to come by. Then a wave of Greek restaurants changed that. Avra Estiatorio was one of the most successful, drawing a business crowd along with trendy downtown diners and Upper East Siders, all lured by expertly grilled top quality seafood, some flown in the Mediterranean, and the perfect combo of fragrant tomatoes and zesty feta.
After many opportunities to expand, the Tao Group decided not to go too far from its midtown roots and finally settled on 14 East 60th Street for its newest outpost, Avra Madison. Most recently the site of Rouge Tomate, the two-level restaurant also housed the storied Copacabana and appeared in such films as Goodfellas, Tootsie, Raging Bull and Carlito’s Way. The kitchen will be overseen by Tao partner and executive chef Ralph Scamardella, while David Rockwell conceived the space. Here are six things you should know about Avra Madison, soft open now and officially opening next weekend.
1) It will be 7,000 square feet larger than the original space on East 48th St. and will seat more than 200 people.
2) It has a reflecting pool on the lower floor, which is an homage to the recently closed Four Seasons, a favorite of Rockwell’s.
3) A split-face stone feature wall was manufactured from blocks at a Greek quarry.
4) Eight-foot real lemon trees at the entrance are meant to conjure the Greek countryside.
5) Two custom wall-mounted sculptures by artist Fernando Mastrangelo in a main dining room and private dining room downstairs are composed of concrete and white rock salt.
6) The new restaurant will offer a departure from classic Greek cuisine in the form of sashimi, such as snapper with yuzu kosho and radish with micro cilantro and olive oil.