According to a New Age philosophy known as Human Design – a Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed remix of the Myers-Briggs test that pulls from astrology, chakras and I Ching – Jeff Katz is the statement. What does that mean exactly? “I’m no expert,” admits the celebrity restaurateur behind Crown Shy and Saga, but his wife has been telling him a lot for years, and a professional “reading” last year confirmed her suspicions. If Goop is reliable, his insight is top notch.
Katz talks about donors, Reiki therapy, energy work, and why he burned this sage last year from the dining room of Al Coro, the upscale Italian restaurant he and chef Melissa Rodriguez have been dreaming about for the past decade—mostly while working in the dining room and kitchen that he and chef Melissa Rodriguez have been dreaming of. came before him. Opens June 22.
“We didn’t sit down on day one and said, ‘Well, what are we doing here?'” “We’ve had these conversations for years. We’ve shown that.”
The restaurant, located at 85 10th Avenue, between West 15th and 16th Streets, was recently home to Del Posto, the Bastianich family’s Italian fine-dining establishment and chef Mario Batali that closed unofficially last year. At the time, Katz and Rodriguez were effectively running the show—as the restaurant’s general manager and executive chef, respectively—but they knew they needed to be owners to shape the future they wanted. Or moving from the complex past they do not.
Things started to come together in 2021, after Del Posto was temporarily closed for a year, and the Bastianichs agreed to sell their stake in the restaurant to Katz, Rodriguez and chef James Kent. (Kent recently split from Al Coro and Katz to run Crown Shy, Saga, and Overstory independently, leaving Katz to run Al Coro and Mel’s with Rodriguez.)
After opening Mel’s, a casual wood-fired pizzeria nearby and the first of three to open in 26,000 square feet, Katz and Rodriguez continue the overhaul with Al Coro, an Italian upscale restaurant that insists on rewriting some of the rules of fine dining. For example, there will be live bands performing from a small stage above the main bar of the restaurant, which is an almost inaudible option at this level of dining.
Katz wants diners to know that it’s not a concert—”You’re here for the food, not for the stage view,” he says—but it promises something more than background jazz.
The style of service might sound more familiar, at least on paper. Unlike Del Posto, Al Coro relies on the tasting menu to fill the 130-seat dining room: there’s a choice of five courses at $195, and a $245 version with extra pasta and an entree. Both versions start with seven appetizers, and dishes like boiled baby potatoes with trout roe and fried artichokes with candied lemon are meant to be shared between the table.
Later, there’s Sardinian culurgiones, the cousin of the ravioli that Rodriguez has relentlessly cooked under lockdown, and an Italian Southern digger on Peking duck that the chef devised to show Questlove’s Food Salon YouTube series. Both of those dishes, and the rest of the “hyper seasonal menu” will be rotated a lot, according to Rodriguez.
How often? “It depends on who you ask,” the chef said, pointing to Katz. “He says every month. I say every two months. Some days it’s 24 hours.” To start, the team tries every six weeks.
The space itself exudes a Katz business suit with cool sneakers (see also: Crown Shy, Saga, and Overstory, the Financial District hotspots the restaurateur opened). He says he instructed the architects to “make the old space disappear,” and the resulting restaurant is a testament that just about anything can be shown with enough money.
The construction, whose cost is comparable to Grub Street on the budget of a mid-level independent film, was funded by an unnamed investor Bruce Wayne the team declined to identify. “It was a lot of money,” Katz says, calling Ackle to “do the math.”
Upstairs, the team destroyed a bar, built a new one, tore up Del Posto’s central staircase, and replaced it with a performance stage. The tables and chairs in this former restaurant have been somewhat replaced with elegant banquettes, custom light fixtures, whitewashed arches, and shoe-level mirrors upon entry. Downstairs, a cocktail bar with a ceiling disco floor, called Discolo, is due to open later this year.
The team in the new class called a party on June 18, the watch-and-see relationship spanned two stories. Over 250 people descended on the downstairs restaurant and cocktail bar to enjoy aperitifs—the restaurant’s adapted versions of cocktail trays—and watched musician Amber Mark christen on stage as Al Coro’s first live performer.
“We can’t forget the past, but we will definitely try to make new memories,” Katz said before the event.
Al Coro is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. In the meantime, you can enjoy more of the atmosphere here.