NEW YORK — In some Mexican restaurants, guacamole — dramatically mixed by waiters table-side — is an end, not a means. But that’s not the case at Centrico, the latest eatery from Drew Nieporent and chef Aaron Sanchez.
The chef plans instead to serve modern Mexican cuisine such as seared swordfish tacos with cucumber mango salsa. Of course, he’ll dish out guacamole, too. “If you don’t have guacamole, if you don’t have margaritas — if you don’t give customers what they expect, you’ll never have the opportunity to really dazzle them with the esoteric stuff,” Sanchez says, grilling some avocado squash.
For now, the restaurant, which opened Wednesday night, serves dinner only, but Sanchez hopes to add brunch. “There are too many good things that Mexicans eat on the weekends, menudo and chilaquiles, to pass it up.”
Eating dishes like that on Centrico’s sunny terrace will be hard for customers to pass up, but inside doesn’t disappoint. Terra-cotta-colored walls and copper-topped tables evoke a south-of-the-border feel. The space used to be Layla, Nieporent’s Middle Eastern restaurant, which closed this spring. (Nieporent also owns Nobu, Montrachet and the Tribeca Grill.) Centrico is the first venture between Nieporent and Sanchez, and they seem happy with Nieporent handling the management side and Sanchez, who owns Paladar, in the kitchen.
“I’ll be supervising management on a regular basis,” Nieporent said via phone from Jackson Hole, Wyo., “and I’ll definitely be sitting outside on the terrace sipping a margarita now and again.”