Sceney Tulum import Gitano is back for a second summer in New York City, and it’s making quite a few changes this go round after a troubled first season in Soho. The palm tree-packed Mexican restaurant reopens on Wednesday at 76 Varick St., at Canal Street, with a major new lineup of chefs.
After a challenging premiere last year — which saw two Department of Health closings — owner James Gardner is vowing to have an incident-free season with a more serious emphasis on food. He has hired a chef dream team: Mike Bagale, former executive chef of Alinea in Chicago; Jose Luis Hinostroza, head chef and partner of Arca in Tulum; Blaine Wetzel, head chef of Willow Inn on Lummi Island; and Daniela Soto-Innes, partner and chef at Cosme and Atla in New York. They will be joining creative consulting chef Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma, and Gitano executive chef Yvan Lemoine.
They’ve also given the space a new name, Gitano Garden of Love.
The group will jointly create a menu of ceviches and tacos and launch it together in New York on May 14, with Lemoine executing for the rest of the summer. Dishes will include sea urchin ceviche, soft shell crab taco, and tiger milk prawn with coconut glaze ceviche.
Gardner has also brought on food safety consultants Grade A and added increased staff training.
“Initially we had taken on an incredibly ambitious project and timeline to convert an empty, dusty lot with no city utilities or even connections into a full-service, 450-seat seasonal restaurant and bar in three months,” Gardner says. “Smart people make mistakes, but they don’t make the same mistakes again. We are grateful to have a second chance in New York.”
It’s a big push for the restaurant that had such a troubled start. Beyond the two 24-hour DOH closings for water and refrigeration issues, the food was also not very well-received. Despite all that, though, it was still a hot celebrity and influencer destination.
Gitano reopens Wednesday.