Celebrated chef Jonathan Benno opens the last piece of his culinary empire inside the Evelyn Hotel today — the Nomad property where he took on a three-restaurant project after leaving Lincoln Ristorante last year.
His newest restaurant Benno is a more refined, upscale concept than the restaurant and bakery he debuted in the space earlier this year, Italian trattoria Leonelli Taberna and Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria. The cuisine at his new flagship Benno, opening Thursday, November 8, at 5:30 p.m., will lean Mediterranean, with dishes like an olive oil-poached steelhead served with Moroccan olives and arrak, a Middle Eastern liquor.
Benno is known for Italian and French fine dining, spending years in Lincoln and Per Se kitchens. And while he’ll still focus on both cuisines at Benno, specifically southern France and northern Italy, he plans to play with other flavors from the Mediterranean rim. “I wanted to challenge myself and explore different ingredients than I’ve been known for or have worked with over the years,” he says.
Diners can choose from three, four, or five courses at different price points. There’s a salad with kohlrabi, beets, sunchokes, and freekeh on the menu, as well as pastas like the pappardelle ruvide with white truffle and castelmagno cheese. A seafood brodetto is made with lobster, scallop, squid, and clam, and the Spanish mackerel is accompanied by red beets, apples, and kaluga caviar. See the full menu below.
Benno is the chef’s third and most high profile restaurant inside the renovated hotel at 7 East 27th St., between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Nomad. He came across the opportunity five years ago and “fell in love with the space,” he says, prompting him to leave Lincoln after six years as their head chef. He opened Roman-focused Leonelli Taberna this past summer and the bakery followed after.
In an ideal world, the three restaurants will feed into each other, the chef says. The space was designed in a way that diners have to walk through Taberna to get to Benno. He hopes they’ll grab a drink at Taberna’s bar on their way into the new venue, and that they’ll return later in the week for a cappuccino at the bakery. That’s why he created the three completely different concepts — so one wouldn’t “cannibalize the other,” he says.
Benno’s 45-seat dining room and 10-seat bar were designed by Parts and Labor Design, the same company that renovated the Evelyn’s public spaces. A separate, private room seats 35. The three-, four-, and five-course menu will go for $95, $125, and $145, respectively. Benno will be open from Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.