NEW YORK — Fans of the now-closed Patria restaurant and its dramatic decor need not worry about a lack of flair at the new eatery that has taken over its space. The Mediterranean-inspired Barbounia, which opened quietly this month, has enough theatrical touches to please even the most die-hard Broadway fan.
Oversized columns; creamy, billowing drapes; a giant chandelier, and a long, white marble bar are some of the notable flourishes at the restaurant, located on the corner of 20th Street and Park Avenue.
For some added entertainment, there is an open kitchen at the back where patrons can watch their dishes take shape. The space was completely gutted and renovated by the Johnson Design Studio, in the process losing its upstairs seating area. The sweeping main dining room now seats 100, and an oversized lounge and bar area can comfortably fit about 40 more.
“We wanted to create energy here, both with the design and the cuisine,” said restaurateur Danielle Billera, who also operates hot spots such as SushiSamba and Marseille with partners Matthew Johnson and Simon Oren. “Our goal was for it to feel warm and chic.”
Executive chef Michael Cressotti, who worked at Patria when it first opened and was most recently corporate executive chef at SushiSamba, said he hopes to build on the freshness and authenticity of Greek fare. “It’s a modern take on traditional cuisine,” he said.
The menu at the restaurant, named for a popular red mullet fish, runs the gamut from traditional Mediterranean dishes such as cheese plates, fried calamari and branzino to trendier treats such as yellowfin tuna crudo and braised duck with risotto. An extensive wine list, Turkish coffee and sumptuous desserts such as pistachio cake and cherry-almond biscotti round out the offerings.
And, although Masa, Megu and Matsuri have been drawing crowds, Billera is confident that the city will welcome another approach to fish. “While Japanese food has become really popular, Mediterranean cuisine is always a favorite,” she said.