Mark Strausman — the chef best known for heading up the kitchen at Barneys restaurant Freds — is finally ready to debut his newest venture. Mark’s Off Madison will open in the former A Voce space at 41 Madison Avenue, across from Madison Square Park, on November 16.
“This is the culmination of my career,” says Strausman. To that effect, Strausman is bringing back a bunch of his favorites. There are pasta options like the three meat lasagna, which have been a major hit at his previous establishments. But the robust menu also has other decadent fare like roasted suckling pig served with fennel pollen and a port wine sauce, an 18-layer eggplant parmesan, and rib-eye steak. In addition, bread, bagels and pizza are made on premises in an open bakery so diners can watch the process. The restaurant also has an extensive beer, wine, and cocktail menu.
For now diners will largely be restricted to eating at the 85-seat outdoor dining area along 26th Street that has also been equipped with heaters and tents for the colder months. Inside, the restaurant — which features walnut floors, wood-coffered ceilings, and a travertine bar — will eventually seat 100 people, but is currently limited to 25 seats due to the restrictions on indoor dining.
Strausman kickstarted his career training at five-star hotels in Europe before planting his feet in NYC. He had stints as the chef at Upper East Side celebrity haunt Coco Pazzo (now located in Soho), before and after debuting his own Italian restaurant Campagna, on East 21st Street, which attracted celebrity clientele like Julia Roberts and Dustin Hoffman. Strausman though, cemented his status as a renowned chef during his 24-year-run at Freds, having worked at the restaurant’s locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Strausman says he had already been looking to branch out on his own even before Barneys closure was announced. The demise of the department store only accelerated that process, he says. Strausman has been working through the shutdown to get his restaurant ready, and says he’s pushing through full steam ahead despite the record number of restaurant closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is no playbook for this and it is scary,” says Strausman. “What keeps me going are the calls from customers saying they are excited and can’t wait for me to open.”