Trailblazing chef Alfred Portale of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar & Grill is opening an Italian fine-dining restaurant in Chelsea — his first New York expansion in the restaurant space since he took over Gotham in 1985, one year after it opened.
His new restaurant arrives this fall, at 126 West 18th St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, where the now-shuttered Rouge Tomate once lived. It’ll be a 130-seat space with a 40-seat dining room, Portale tells Eater, and his first solo venture in NYC. The cuisine will lean toward “modern, contemporary” Italian, though with a nod toward the chef’s French training, he says.
“I’m Italian and have a great love for Italian cuisine,” Portale says. “I’m French trained, and I’ve always wanted to do an Italian restaurant.”
Gotham Bar & Grill has been a Greenwich Village stalwart since 1984, and Portale has been a part of that since the beginning, building the sophisticated American restaurant into the classic it is today. Under him, the kitchen has had many iconic dishes, including the hamburger, tuna tartare, and apple tarte tatin. The chef has racked up awards for both himself and Gotham, including a Michelin star since 2006, three James Beard Awards, and five three-star reviews in the Times between 1985 and 2011.
Portale is also wildly influential, a trailblazer in new American fine dining cooking. Big-name chefs like Craft’s Tom Colicchio and Oceana’s Bill Telepan have cycled through that restaurant — and cool food aficionado Barack Obama has eaten there.
Unlike many chefs of similar caliber, Portale hasn’t expanded significantly, focusing mostly on Gotham over the past three decades; he told Crain’s in 2013 that it was mostly to be able to spend time with his family. The chef has only been involved in two other restaurant projects since: He opened a Gotham Steak in Miami Beach in 2008 and helped relaunch Stephen Starr’s Philadelphia restaurant Striped Bass — though both of those are now closed.
Stay tuned for more details.