Definitely take the cannoli at the new Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria, one of three establishments chef Jonathan Benno, of Per Se and Lincoln fame, opens this summer in the hip Manhattan neighborhood of NoMad. Indeed, Benno is inventing a new food destination at The Evelyn hotel on East 27th Street. Besides the pastry shop, a casual trattoria with a bar and lounge launches in June while a fine dining restaurant is in the works for the later part of this year.
“With Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria, we are bringing back the old Italian-American pastry shop,” says Benno, who grew up within an Italian-rooted community in Connecticut. Yes, there will be bombolini and biscotti, but also a variety of focaccia, sfogliatelle and the ubiquitous cannoli. The bakery will open onto the street and offer lunch and afternoon treats. No need to bring your tablet though; on the sleek mezzanine above, Assouline will curate a collection of its beautifully illustrated books.
Leonelli Taberna takes its inspiration from the great Roman trattorias but with an added bar and lounge area for innovative cocktails. Antipasti, arancini and even a spaghetti carbonara croquette accompany Italian and private label wines. Piccoli piatti (small plates) include baked ricotta, meatballs and a tripe preparation. Most pasta comes “al forno”—think lasagna al ragu bolognese, but with both a rotisserie and a massive steakhouse-style broiler, there will be plenty of action and delicious aromas on the floor.
Details on Benno, the fine-dining restaurant, are still somewhat mysterious but the chef promises what amounts to an ideal Mediterranean cruise, “at the junction of France and Italy with Portuguese and even Moroccan accents,” he says.
This is Jonathan Benno’s most personal project to date and for those who have followed him around, taste buds ablaze, his most exciting one.
Main photo credit: Evan Sung