David Chang’s Momofuku Heads West
On Jan. 10, after much anticipation, David Chang’s acclaimed dining hot spot Momofuku opened the doors to its new Las Vegas location. Housed at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the restaurant shares the resort with Restaurant Award winners é by José Andrés and Jaleo. Momofuku, on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan's Eastside Tower, is open for dinner seven days a week.
With locations in New York City, Sydney, Toronto and Washington, D.C., Momofuku now encompasses 13 restaurants, including the intimate Momofuku Ko in Manhattan, which earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 2016. The Las Vegas restaurant features an ever-changing menu, with culinary influences from the United States, Korea and Japan, including sharable meat and seafood plates as well as steamed buns, noodles and creative twists on classic dishes, such as fried chicken with caviar. Its global wine list is overseen by wine director Richard Hargreave and offers 80-plus selections, more than a dozen of which are available by the glass, highlighting France, California and other wine regions around the world. Those looking for alternatives to wine can choose from a number of sakes, as well as whiskeys from Japan, Scotland and the U.S.—S.H.
Coming This Spring to Minneapolis: Chef Gavin Kaysen's Bellecour
Gavin Kaysen caused a stir in 2014 when he left his post as executive chef of Best of Award of Excellence winner Café Boulud in Manhattan to open his own restaurant, Spoon and Stable, in his hometown of Minneapolis. But the risk paid off; three years later, he's already preparing to open his second restaurant, dubbed Bellecour, at 739 Lake St. in Wayzata, a suburb of the Twin Cities. Named after the Place Bellecour in the center of Lyon, France, where Kaysen spends a lot of time, the restaurant is a nod to Kaysen’s relationships with close friends, mentors and lauded chefs Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse, who also have ties to the city.
Nico Giraud, longtime sommelier at Meritage in St. Paul, Minn., will oversee the wine list, which will be mainly French; other European countries and the United States will also be represented. Similarly, Kaysen's menu will feature a mix of classic French dishes along with seasonal Midwestern ingredients and flavors. There will also be a bakery on site from pastry chef Diane Yang.
Kaysen spent months scouting for the right location for Bellecour, ultimately choosing the former home of the Blue Point Restaurant. “Once I walked through these doors, I felt an immediate connection to the charm and the natural character of the building, the town and the smell of the lake nearby," Kaysen said in a press statement. Bellecour is expected to open in the spring.—L.W.
Coming Soon to Denver: Tavernetta's All-Italian Wine List
From Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, co-owners of Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo., comes Tavernetta, an upscale Italian restaurant with an impressive wine list and a casual atmosphere. Slated to open the first week of April in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood, the 125-seat tavern will serve regional classics for lunch and dinner, offering a slightly less formal alternative to its Boulder counterpart. Frasca's sommelier, Carlin Karr, will oversee Tavernetta's all-Italian wine list, which will feature 250 to 300 selections, including classics from Piedmont, Tuscany and the Veneto, as well as wines from lesser-known regions like Vallee d'Aosta, Lazio and Abruzzo.
"To be honest, an all-Italian wine list is both comforting and scary," Karr told Wine Spectator in an e-mail. "It has forced me to find Italy's answer to California Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Rioja, Shiraz, off-dry Riesling …" The sole exception to the Italy-only rule will be Champagne, which, according to Carr, will occupy a large role at Tavernetta because it plays a huge part in Italian wine culture.
Thomas Keller Restaurant Group alum Justin Williams will serve as Tavernetta's general manager. Williams previously served as general manager for Best of Award of Excellence winner Bouchon in Beverly Hills, Calif., and before that, Grand Award winner the French Laundry, where he worked alongside Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson.—L.W.
New Wine Director for République
This Los Angeles bistro with a reputation for its distinctive wine program has a new wine director. Maria Garcia, 33, has been with République since 2014 and succeeds Taylor Parsons, who left the position to pursue a new restaurant project. In 2010, Garcia began working at Spago Beverly Hills, where her diligence in the cellar helped the wine team elevate the restaurant to Grand Award status that year. Now, Garcia is tasked with managing a wine program that was built to complement the ever-changing whims of République's chef, Walter Manzke.
"République ... is like a number of restaurants in one," Garcia told Wine Spectator in an e-mail. "As a guest you can have a number of experiences, [from] having a dozen oysters at the bar with a glass of Muscadet to a custom tasting menu with wine pairings." The physical list, a single page of 75 wines, is only the tip of the iceberg of the 2,000 wine selections in République's cellar. Depending on the menu and the guests they're serving, the staff will dip into the cellar for an off-list wine to make the experience "just right."—L.W.
Mafiaoza's Opens New Tennessee Location
Nashville Award of Excellence winner Mafiaoza's has opened another location, at 230 Franklin Road in the nearby city of Franklin, Tenn. In addition to the wine list’s 120 New- and Old-World selections, plus 27 wines by the glass, Mafiaoza's offers classic Italian cuisine, craft cocktails and 34 beers on tap. The new location features four outdoor patios, a banquet room and a 1920s-era, temperature-controlled wine safe.
Opening Soon in Cincinnati: The Hamilton
Restaurateur Suzanne McGarry is opening the Hamilton, a new restaurant and wineshop, across the street from her Award of Excellence–winning Bistro Grace in Cincinnati. Set to open on Feb. 1, the Hamilton will feature small bites and shareable plates created by Bistro Grace chef David Bever. The main attraction will be the extensive selection of wines and craft beers available to purchase for either carry-out or on-site consumption with a corkage fee. The Hamilton will also have a full bar and a small selection of red and white wines by the glass.—L.W.