Midtown Italian seafood restaurant Esca caught on fire yesterday evening, delaying its reopening to mid-July.
There was no one in the restaurant, which has been under renovation since a change in ownership in May, according to owner Victor Rallo. One civilian sustained a minor injury, the NYC Fire Department tells Eater. The blaze began Sunday evening at 402 West 43rd St., near Ninth Avenue; a video posted on Twitter shows a fiery mess inside the front portion of the restaurant and what appears to be pieces of the ceiling falling to the ground. In total, 60 firefighters and 12 units reported to the scene.
The fire was put out by 8:30 p.m., the department says, and the cause is still under investigation.
Esca — originally opened by Mario Batali — is now in the hands of of its executive chef Dave Pasternack and his business partner, Rallo. The duo took a majority ownership in the nearly 20-year-old restaurant from Joe Bastianich’s company in May. (This was after Esca took a 30 percent hit in revenue following the December 2017 investigations of Batali’s alleged misconduct, Pasternack told the Times.)
Pasternack and Rallo, who together own Staten Island restaurants Surf and Barca, were renovating the place and aiming for a June opening. The fire, which caused “superficial” damage, has set them back to a mid-July opening, Rallo tells Eater.
Plans are to update the dining room, as well as the wine list and menu. Signatures such as a sea urchin pasta will remain, but cured meats and more vegetable dishes will join.