A Spanish tapas and wine bar called Casa Lola is the new restaurant coming to 47-46 Vernon Boulevard, formerly the home of Bella Via. Though the concept is new to Long Island City, in many ways this restaurant will be unique to New York City.
Valentina Salcedo is the maestro behind Casa Lola, and the restaurant has been her dream since she arrived in New York eight years ago, as well as the culmination of her lengthy career in the hospitality business. Originally from the Catalan region of Spain, she cooked under Rene Redzepi at Noma, Michel Bras at his namesake restaurant in France, and Alain Passard at L’Arpege in Paris. All three of whom were renowned contributors to the farm-to-table movement in Europe by putting a focus on having vegetables at the center of the plate. They also happen to have each received three stars from Michelin.
While Valentina will continue their tradition of seasonality by bringing nature to flavors and dishes via a collaboration with a farm on the North Fork, her vision is that of great food served in a more casual yet dynamic atmosphere. Which means you can go for a big meal, or simply stop by for a glass of cava and a tapa or two.
That informality is best envisioned by the extensive bar that will run along the full length of the restaurant and curve partly around the open kitchen. And fear not carnivores, because that kitchen will feature a charcoal basque grill.
Let’s not forget the wine. There will be an extensive offering, all from Spain. Now that is something you don’t see at too many other restaurants in the USA, where these magnificent wines are underrepresented (as is the cuisine of Spain).
The wonderful outdoor seating area of this corner location will still play a significant role at Casa Lola, think of an Andalusian patio. And the 48th Avenue windows are being replaced so the entire restaurant can be exposed to the outdoors in good weather.
Further differentiating the new space from its prior tenant, the whole building is being spruced up. The bricks are getting scrubbed, the outdoor molding will be painted bright red – the color of Spain, and Cartobon tiles, a legacy of Catalan Modernist architecture, will be applied to both the exterior and interior in separate tones.
As for that interior it will be very colorful, and an updated version of Valentina’s grandmother’s home. The person for whom Casa Lola is named.
We’ll have to wait until late Spring to taste the flavors of Spain here in Long Island City, but by summer the corner of 48th and Vernon should once again be in full swing.