Nello Balan — the man formerly behind the luxe Upper East Side restaurant Nello that’s perhaps better known for its astronomical prices than its food — is ready to open a new spot in the city. Balan, who has been living in Italy since he parted with his eponymous restaurant in 2014, will debut a Roman-inspired restaurant at 195 Spring Street, near Sullivan Street, which was previously home to late chef Floyd Cardoz’s Bombay Bread Bar.
The new restaurant will have around 100 indoor seats along with 25 outside. It will offer “lots of crudo’’, along with dishes like baby artichoke salad, lasagna with meat, béchamel and radicchio, and Dover sole with truffles. Balan, however, insists that it will not be prohibitively expensive, like the uptown spot.
“We have to be sensitive to everybody’s needs and not everyone wants to pay $100 for pasta now,’’ Balan tells Eater. “I will make things as affordable as possible. My new motto is truffles for all.”
Balan is leaning toward calling the new spot Nello as well, even though the Upper East Side restaurant that he parted with in 2014 after a disagreement with his partner Thomas Makkos still bears that name. “I have the right to call it Nello, that is my name,’’ he says. Makkos did not return a request for comment. His partner in this new venture will be Daniele Mancini, who owns restaurants in Rome and Madrid.
Construction work on the restaurant was nearly complete before NYC became an epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Andrew Cuomo enforced a shutdown on dining in last month. Balan says he will open a couple of months after things return back to normal in the city, and is hopeful for a summer opening.
Balan opened his Upper East Side restaurant on Madison Avenue back in 1992. The restaurant quickly became a hotspot for business types, celebrities, and other high net worth folks — in 2008, a customer posted a receipt on Yelp of a $47,000 meal he had at the restaurant.
The UES spot has had its fair share of problems though including tax issues, and a lawsuit after Nello left that alleged that Makkos owed a partner $1 million because of “financial fraud.” More recently, the restaurant was under fire for reportedly asking a woman diner to leave the bar because of a “crackdown on hookers.”
Still, Balan is hoping for a fresh start with his new venture. Along with opening the Soho restaurant, he is launching a line of food products from Italy, including sauces and packaged Bellinis that will also be called Nello. “I’ve been traveling and I spent time in Italy where I started this project,’’ he says. “I still have another chapter or two to write.’’