If you’ve ever dined at Le Cirque, wishing you could have donned just flip-flops and a caftan instead of Louboutins and Yves Saint Laurent, now’s the chance. The Maccioni family, owners of the famed institution, have taken the reins at the newly refurbished El Pescador restaurant at perennial fashion getaway Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s Le Cirque in a bathing suit,” quips Marco Maccioni, son of Sirio, who has been overseeing the reincarnation.
Lending their haute hands to El Pescador was a natural decision for the Maccionis, whose empire encompasses Le Cirque and Osteria del Circo in New York and outposts in Las Vegas and Mexico City. Friends with the Casa de Campo owners, the Maccionis have been vacationing there for more than two decades and Marco admits to having always dreamed of running a beachside restaurant.
He certainly can’t complain about the setting. El Pescador rests on private Minitas Beach, flanked by white umbrellas and chaise lounges. An open-air dining room is the restaurant’s main area, and nearby cabanas offer more private dining.
But those expecting soufflés and terrines with their fruity drinks should look elsewhere. Working with chef Paul Scordino of Le Cirque, Marco was insistent on taking cues from the local ingredients.
“It’s not a fussy place in any way whatsoever,” he says. “The lunch menu is very simple: salads, grilled meats, fresh vegetables. And in the evening time, it’s still very laid-back. It’s in the middle of the Caribbean so people will be in beach evening attire. The food has to match that kind of feel. We’re not going to be doing castles of foie gras and caviar.”
Instead, expect variations on Le Cirque staples: Dover sole meunière translates to a local fish like mahimahi served with olive oil and lemon; a lobster salad might be decorated with mango. And all of the dishes will have a light touch, in keeping with the tropical surroundings. After all, the Maccionis are well aware of the glamorous (and Eres-clad) clientele to whom they are catering.
“Most of the people that do go on vacation, the last thing they want to do is eat like a pig,” says Marco. “Sometimes people go on vacation so they can look good in their bathing suits.”