Long time BHB readers may recall that we predicted here in 2007 that the North Heights was poised to become a culinary hot spot. So, with the the debut of Gabriele Corcos at Bevacco Friday night and with the opening of Sociale two blocks down Henry Street planned for Monday (7/29) it’s hard not to be amped up about that “vision” becoming reality.
Despite our unbridled enthusiasm about his arrival, our experience at Bevacco Friday night for Corcos’ debut as Executive Chef was less than spectacular. The food and new menu (which didn’t feel that new or different) is unremarkable comparatively speaking to, say, fellow TV chef Elizabeth Falkner’s run at Atlantic Avenue’s Krescendo. We’ll give Corcos a mulligan on that one considering he’s relatively new to the restaurant business.
Also of note is the revised drinks menu which shows much promise. That said, even a casual fan of Extra Virgin, the Cooking Channel show Corcos hosts with actress wife Debi Mazar, can feel that his creativity was a bit restrained on Night 1.
Yes, it was Corcos’ first night and a new beginning for the eatery housed at the perpetually cursed “Corner of Cranberry” but the long standing issue of slow, aloof and unorganized service that has plagued Bevacco since its opening continues to be its Achilles heel. While we found our meal to be competent – like dinner at foodie friend’s house – whatever satisfaction the food and drink provided was undermined by the usual crazy quilt of service at the eatery. And it wasn’t just us, the table next to us received a bottle of hot white wine. When they mentioned this to their server the reply was essentially, “we don’t usually serve cold bottles of wine.”
The high profile Corcos did pop out of the kitchen to greet diners but from our perspective he appeared to ignore those he didn’t seem to know or to think were important. Most restaurants soft open for “Friends and Family” before opening to the general public but if you’re allowing regular punters (like us!) to dine on Opening Night then everyone should be treated like “Friends and Family.”
For example when our final drink order hadn’t arrived for over 20 minutes and our check was dropped and charging for those still undelivered drinks, Corcos bounded towards us with two limoncellos (the order we’d place and were still waiting for) in hand. That’s enough for us and most folks – famous chef or not – to salve even the worst episode of bad service. That is, unless the chef actually drops those drinks at another table he’d been hobnobbing with all night. That made us wonder if our food had been contaminated with some sort of Tuscan invisibility potion. (File under: Yes, Pete Wells has a point.) To be fair, the warm white wine table did get a selfie with Mazar – but it’s unclear whether they’re friends IRL.
— William Joseph Jolly (@WilliamJJolly) July 27, 2013
All this aside, a celebrity chef holding court every night on Henry Street should and can be a great thing for Brooklyn Heights. And while our first experience under this new regime totally bummed us out, we’re holding out hope that Bevacco will rise above these issues.
It’s times like these we wonder – What Would Gordon Ramsay Say?
1) Fix The Problems, Find A Leader.
As Ramsay told the owners of “Grasshopper Also“, “This restaurant will not succeed unless you make the necessary staff changes.” In his monologue, Ramsay adds the the eatery had everything it needed to succeed except a “leader.”
2) Get Out Of Denial. Ramsay tells Allan Love, the recalcitrant owner of Ruby Tates Loves Fish that the “quicker you get out of denial, the quicker we can work together.” Remember folks, it takes team work to make the dream work.
3) Communication Is Key. Transparency, respect and honesty may not always be a joy ride but it’ll make for a more productive restaurant. At Seascape, the owner and chef didn’t speak to each other.
4) Overpriced And Underwhelming Is No Way To Run A Restaurant. At Rococo, Ramsay railed against its pretentious food and “f*&^ing ridiculous prices”. After we dropped a double C-note for our experience at Bevacco this is particularly relevant.
5) Super-Serve The Locals. “When running a restaurant in Spain, don’t piss off the locals,” Ramsay says in the episode featuring La Parra. After a disastrous catering event for a local charity, the restaurant had a hard time convincing area residents to dine there. They never recovered from that mistake. The Brooklyn Heights restaurants that do well in the area know this and all have strong list of regulars – Noodle Pudding, Henry’s End, Jack the Horse, Armando’s, River Deli, Colonie and a few others are great examples. Put simply, showbiz friends, unless they live in the area, will not carry the business beyond relaunch.