“You really have to kind of see the space to get a real feel for it, but spaces like this really aren’t a dime a dozen in New York City,” general manager Craig Hutson told us in a recent interview. “The look and the feel of it really kind of gave itself to really focusing on proper martini presentations.”
“It feels like old New York, like a New York institution,” says executive chef/partner Ed Cotton. “Instead of having this bright, white, gleaming, shiny new restaurant, we have something that feels like it’s been aged.”
The address has been a restaurant for a number of years, most recently Rossopomodoro, which had its name emblazoned like a chyron across the walls, coloring mats for kids, pasta and pizza, sometimes fashioned into novel shapes.
As Jack & Charlie’s no. 118, the space has mid-century charm cloaked in a romantic miasma. The entrance on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and 13th Street leads to a handsome geometric bar, with black, white and grey triangle-tiled floors, pops of color on eight green leather bar stools and distressed mirrors reflecting warm golden light. The smaller of two connected dining areas follows, then the main room, adorned with more shades of green and blue, lined with banquettes and anchored by a new fireplace.
“I think the decor and everything is a very sexy, old school, love letter to New York. We wanted to create a restaurant that seems like it’s a classic,” Cotton says.
He created the menu with those notes in mind, too, along with plans to make the most of an entirely wood-burning oven inherited from previous occupants. Cotton says it’s unique in New York, where many similar heat sources are actually powered, in part, by gas. This one’s fired exclusively by oak, maple, cherry, ash and beech wood.
“Using this oven, this blend of wood, the smokiness, the char, all of those things will impart a better flavor,” Cotton says. “When it comes to the table it will be a better roasted chicken than, hopefully, the guy or girl down the street.”
You’ll find those flavors in Jack & Charlie’s clams casino, whole branzino, herb roasted chicken, steak prime rib and a bone-in duck meatloaf.
“I wanted to put a meatloaf on the menu but when you think of meatloaf you don’t think of an upscale restaurant,” Cotton says. So I had to think outside the box and say, how can I make it that much more interesting? I feel that I cracked the code on that one.”
The code contains a whole duck and about 30 other ingredients including housemade cornbread and a duck leg bone planted in the center of each individual 12-oz loaf like a fowl flag.
“I think it’s one of those things that will have a wow factor,” Cotton says.
Other opening menu items include raw bar selections, a wedge salad, fresh made pastas and an “everything” knish with optional caviar supplement.
“It’s a serious menu,” Cotton says. “It’s a little whimsical, also.”
Jack & Charlie’s no. 118 is located at 118 Greenwich Avenue. It will be open Monday through Saturday from 5pm to 11pm, and Sunday from 5pm to 10pm.