NEW YORK – Renowned chef Todd English “has returned to open his first Big Apple restaurant in more than two decades,” the New York Post’s Side Dish reported on February 3.
“English – who made waves with Olives NY at the W Hotel in Union Square when it opened in 2000, and who launched a national food court trend with his eponymously named Plaza Hotel food hall – will helm Pappas Taverna in Greenwich Village,” the Post reported, adding that “the wood-fired Greek restaurant, which opens its doors Feb. 15, will provide a modern, playful take on Mediterranean cuisine, offer a $275-per-person 40-seat chef’s tasting room and serve $3,500 bottles of wine by the glass, English told Side Dish.”
“I try to give it a little bit of a twist with some layers, like torched tuna — adding flavors and textures on top of tradition. That’s the exciting part,” said English, who is partnering with restaurateur Stratis Morfogen on the venture, the Post reported.
“The 11,000-square-foot eatery will open in a landmark building at 103 Macdougal Street, with seating for 220 inside and 50 on the sidewalk,” the Post reported, noting that “it will also have a Chefs’ Room with 40 seats — and no menu – costing $175 per person, or $275-a-plate if lobster and porterhouse steak are included.”
“The chefs will cook until the table gives up,” Morfogen told the Post. “They can have eight courses. Chef English and [chef de cuisine] Pavlos Devaris will consult with the guests and cook based on their preferences, more meat, or fish, or vegetarian.”
“Pappas Taverna will also offer any of its wines by the glass — including from a 2009 Chateau Margaux, which costs $3,470 a bottle at the restaurant,” the Post reported, adding that “each glass will run a wine lover $870” and “once ‘uncorked,’ the bottle will be listed on a chalkboard menu for others to order.”
“It becomes a very social thing,” Morfogen told the Post, “adding that the wine list will offer a wide selection from Greece, France, Portugal, Spain and California.”
“The restaurant – named for the Pappas restaurant Morfogen’s grandfather ran for 65 years until 1975 on West 14th Street – will also provide takeout or delivery with a contactless system of lockers outside the restaurant,” the Post reported, noting that “delivery drivers, or diners, are notified by phone when their orders are ready, and they use a QR code to open their lockers, which are individually adjusted for temperature and labeled accordingly.”
“Cold foods are in blue colored lockers; hot foods are in red,” the Post reported, adding that “Morfogen uses a similar system at his Brooklyn Dumpling Shop.”
“A sneak peek at the Pappas Taverna menu reveals dishes including mini-clay pots with tzatziki trios of whipped avocado and carrot hummus,” the Post reported, noting that “small plates feature filet mignon, torched crudo, wood-roasted mussels, grilled halloumi and oak-roasted chili feta” as well as “classic oak-wood grilled fishes and meats, along with dishes like duck schwarma and pita pizzas of the day.”
“Mediterranean food is delicious and healthy and what people really want to eat now,” Morfogen told the Post. “Todd and I have the same thinking. Greek has been overexplained. We just want a fresh outlook on what Greek food can be.”
“The opening has been delayed by the pandemic, as well as supply issues,” the Post reported, pointing out that “during the pandemic, Morfogen reconnected with English at a friend’s Halloween party and they decided to work together.”
“He’s so talented. He needed to come back, put an apron on, and reclaim New York City,” Morfogen told the Post. “English’s market exploded all over the world, and that’s pretty sexy. But it was time for him to go back to being an artist. New York City is the mecca of dining and his roots are here.”
“Born in the Big Apple, the 62-year-old English was once named one of People’s 50 most beautiful people — and dubbed a ‘culinary lothario’ by Page Six — almost a decade ago,” the Post reported, adding that “English said those days are long behind him.”
“I’ve learned a lot since then,” English told the Post.
“Like many chefs, some of English’s projects wound down during the pandemic — the food hall at the Plaza Hotel, for example, closed and never reopened, nor did eateries in places like Dubai, Manilla and Abu Dhabi, although English is in talks to open new spots in several of those cities,” the Post reported, noting that “his current portfolio spans the U.S., including a hotel in Las Vegas, and his staple restaurants Olives, Figs and others are still thriving in multiple locations, as is a restaurant in the Bahamas.”
“However, the Olives in New York closed in 2012,” the Post reported, “but other New York City projects are in the works, sources told Side Dish.”
“New York is the best food city in the world. I love the energy. It’s exciting to be back in New York in a great situation with a great partner. I’ve been doing this for 30-plus, 35 years, and it’s like anything. You always have to reinvent what you are doing and keep it fresh,” English told the Post.