It’s a new era for iconic Union Square American restaurant Gotham Bar & Grill: Influential chef Alfred Portale is stepping away from the kitchen, where he spent 34 years leading the restaurant to a Michelin star and several James Beard awards. Replacing him will be former Chumley’s chef Victoria Blamey, the Times reports
Owners Jerome Kretchmer, Jeff Bliss, Robert Rathe, and Richard Rathe decided to switch things up when Portale announced earlier this year that he would be opening his own Italian restaurant in Chelsea. The search for a chef led them to Blamey, who last helmed the kitchen at Chumley’s in the West Village where she earned two stars in the Times.
Blamey plans to add more multicultural flavors to the formerly American menu, such as Indian sauces and chiles. Though she’s been there for a few weeks, her new menu will debut in September after a brief closure for a slight redesign in August.
It’s a big change for the restaurant that for 34 years Portale has kept about upscale seasonal American fare. In that time, he’s racked up awards for both himself and the restaurant, including a Michelin star since 2006, three James Beard Awards, and five three-star reviews in the Times between 1985 and 2011.
Now, Portale will focus on his the fall opening for his new Italian restaurant in Chelsea, to be called Portale. Portale will not be a fine-dining restaurant, the chef told Food & Wine. Rather, he wants to open a “hip and fun” place for the neighborhood, with housemade pasta and seasonal Italian classics.
The chef lived in Italy and has been cooking French-influenced American food for the last few decades, which will all make its way into the menu here. There will be a particular focus in the 130-seat space on the “light and casually healthy” food of the Italian riviera, supplied by his deep relationships at the Union Square farmers market nearby.
Portale says he’s wanted to open his own restaurant “for many, many years.” This “informal type of experience” is a departure from his time at Gotham Bar & Grill, where he remains a partner.
Stay tuned for more.