In a full circle move, Michael Viscuso is back in Little Italy. In 2006, he and longtime friend and restaurateur Joe Busalacchi partnered to open the neighborhood's first nightclub, a sushi bar and entertainment venue called Crudo; Viscuso has long been part of the local nightlife scene, founding several of downtown's original clubs, including On Broadway and E Street Alley.
Earlier this year, Viscuso returned to India Street to retake ownership of the former Crudo space, which Busalacchi had been running as Spaghetteria since 2008, for two new concepts under one roof that are scheduled to open by early October. At the front of the 7,500-square-foot space, collectively called Entrada, will be an upscale taqueria serving a lunch and dinner menu of salads, starters and 14 taco variations. Chef Jorge Garcia, who hails from Toluca near Mexico City, told Eater that he plans to cook up signature dishes from different regions in Mexico including housemade traditional red, green and even a soy version of chorizo, Toluca's most famous food item.
Viscuso says that dishes will be well-priced for the neighborhood; tacos will range from $3.95 to $6.95 with appetizers running $8 to $11. Atmosphere Construction and Design is creating the space, which will have new glass windows that open up to the sidewalk and will hold a 35-foot central bar anchored by two 15-foot olive tree sculptures hung with Mexican lanterns; an open kitchen will be viewable from 125 to 150 seats, divided between communal tables and elevated booths that'll ring the perimeter of the restaurant. Its beverage program will focus on agave spirits, plus other clear liquors and beer.
Separated from the restaurant by corrugated metal walls and shipping container doors will be Little Italy's first speakeasy, whose entrance will be hidden behind an antique church confessional. Small windows will give a peek into the inner sanctum which will house a dance floor and a 30-foot bar centered around whiskey, bourbon and cognac. While the restaurant will be open seven days a week, the speakeasy will only operate five nights a week with a rotating schedule of live entertainment, from DJs to karaoke.
The taqueria and the speakeasy will each have its own signature drinks; Viscuso says he's hiring some notable drink makers, including an award-winning flair bartender, to create lists that'll range from molecular cocktails to tiki-inspired drinks.