Four Gramercy Tavern alums have teamed up to open a new wood-fire restaurant in Ridgewood that’s set to open mid-October. Rolo’s, located at 853 Onderdonk Avenue, at Cornelia Street, will focus on a changing, weekly pre-set menu geared toward family-style dining, along with several a la carte options as well.
Each pre-set menu, which will likely cost $17 per person, will include three to five dishes that complement each other — think comfort food items like meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, fried chicken with a side of jalapeño focaccia, and garlicky greens — and will all be cooked on a wood-fired grill.
“The focus of our restaurant is serving simple, wood fire-grilled food, that’s well executed, is approachable, and is at a good value,” says Howard Kalachnikoff, the chef and one of the owners of the restaurant, who previously worked as the chef de cuisine at Gramercy Tavern.
For the new restaurant, Kalachnikoff has teamed up with his former Gramercy Tavern co-workers Rafiq Salim, Paul Wetzel, and Ben Howell. And while the team is banking on the technical experience gained at such top-notch establishments, they’re going for a far more casual, neighborhood-y vibe with Rolo’s.
“None of us are looking to make a name as world famous chefs,” says Kalachnikoff. “We just want to build a place that people feel good about visiting. This restaurant is about humility, and we’re really grateful to get to do what we do.”
To that effect, Rolo’s will also have a grocery store component in the front. Customers will be able to buy prepared items during the day like fresh pasta, spreads, dips, condiments, a small selection of breads, and housemade ice cream. There will also be a bar section serving up beer, wine, coffee, and tea.
In the afternoons, the space will transform into a takeout and delivery operation, and weather permitting, the team may introduce some outdoor seating to make use of their corner space. The restaurant seats 100 people, but should indoor dining be allowed to return in NYC this year at half capacity, the restaurant will be able to accommodate a little over 40 people, according to Howell, who is the general manager at the establishment.
Having worked at restaurants in Manhattan for several years, building a neighborhood restaurant was critical to team’s vision behind Rolo’s. “A lot of restaurants in Manhattan are built around tourists,” says Howell. “We want to be a place where your guests are your neighbors. A place that maintains that tight-knit feeling of being in a neighborhood.”
For now, the Rolo’s team is waiting on permits with the hope to open its doors in October.