Lincoln chef Jonathan Benno’s highly anticipated comeback begins next Monday, June 25 with the opening of his Roman trattoria Leonelli Taberna in the Evelyn Hotel in Nomad.
The restaurant, located at 7 East 27th St. between Madison and Fifth avenues, is the first of three that Benno — who made his name as Lincoln’s head chef for six years, as well as with long stints at Per Se, Craft, and the French Laundry — will debut in the hotel. The menu focuses on more rustic Italian food, with dishes such as braised honeycomb tripe with tomatoes and pecorino romano, gnocchi with braised oxtail, eggplant parmesan, beef and pork lasagna, and roasted chicken with salsa verde.
Pastry chef Lindsey Bittner and baker Lisa Kalemkiarian will make all desserts, pastries, and breads in house, such as rice pudding with rhubarb sorbet or a hazelnut and cherry sorbet tartufo. Drinks of course focus on Italy, too, with 60 wines from the country, as well as beer produced in Italy and locally.
The space has art deco decor, split into a dining room and bar-lounge area. Marble tables, dark green banquettes, a slightly open kitchen, and skylights spread throughout the 90-seat space.
Though Benno may not be a household name, he’s popular among chefs, and his food has been called “criminally under-appreciated.” Next up in the hotel for him are Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria, a Roman bakery and cafe opening on July 9, serving up house-baked focaccia, sandwiches, soups, salads, and some very pristine-looking cookies. That will be followed by Benno, the flagship restaurant that will serve upscale Mediterranean fare.
When it opens next week, Leonelli Taberna will be open daily at 5 p.m. and until 11 p.m. in the dining room and 1 a.m. in the bar and lounge.