Take a trip without ever leaving home at Hell’s Kitchen restaurant Gilda — family recipes and flavors from around the world influence the neighborhood’s newest Mediterranean eatery.
The cafe from West Side hospitality veterans Maren and John Powell of Chow Down NYC — proprietors of local favorites like ‘ritas, B Side Pizza, El Centro (and the late, great VYNL) — takes over the space on W47th Street where the pair’s previous property Barrage once stood before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the popular gay bar in March 2020. In development for over a year, the new Gilda features a wine program from sommelier Alexis Percival (also in charge of the beverage program over at Steak Frites Bistro) and spice-influenced cocktails from head bartender Steven Rhea, accented with crystal clear cubes from a state-of-the-art Clinebell ice making machine. The select menu of shareable Mediterranean favorites such as Baba Ganoush, Persian Cucumber Salad, Lamb, Short Rib and Chicken Shashlik, Banzino and Baklava is the result of a collaboration between Chef Jason Neroni, Chef Eunice Rosario and John’s sister, Katherine, who lives in Israel.
Looking for a new genre of cuisine to add into their eclectic portfolio, Maren explained that the inspiration for Gilda was two-fold. “I was researching the spice trade, the first time ever in the history of humanity that cultures were really mixing — and it reminded me of Midtown Manhattan, where all the cultures mix,” she said. Researching the spice trade was as easy as visiting Katherine in Israel, who shared the region’s rich history of cuisine as well as her own time-honored recipes with Maren and John.
“We went to Morocco for 10 days and visited all the spice markets,” said Maren, and once home they took their newfound knowledge to specialty food shop Kalustyan’s in Murray Hill to source the best cardamom, cumin, star anise and other Middle Eastern spices needed to recreate favorite dishes.
Working with Chefs Eunice and Jason, as well as Katherine’s daughter Kate — now living in New York after growing up in Israel, Maren and John are excited to offer a multi-cultural spin on their family visit favorites. “We’ve put a new twist on Katherine’s recipes — it’s all about collaboration,” said Maren.
The space’s design also reflects a meeting-of-the-world aesthetic, with nautical touches like the ship porthole windows looking into the sea-like blue, gray and copper-toned space (there are penny-lined columns throughout the dining room — “everyone who comes in will have good luck!” said Maren), as well as traveler’s treasure touches like maps of the Spice Trade route, an antique card catalog behind the bar and the authentic (and gigantic) 1800s ice box accenting the room — “we found it on eBay and drove down to the boondocks of Pennsylvania to get it!” John said proudly.
As Gilda prepares for its first patrons, Maren and John hope the eatery will evoke the same collaborative, multicultural, and familial energy that went into making it — and soon become a standard for locals. “There’s lots of things to share here,” said Maren, “we’re all about exposing people to different cultures — and bringing different cultures together.”
Gilda is located at 410 W47th Street (between 9/10th Avenue) and will be open from Tuesday to Sunday 4pm-12am, with brunch service to come at a later date.