New York City has long been home to chef Jonathan Benno. Although the Connecticut native cut his chops in iconic California kitchens Aqua and The French Laundry, he is best-known for helming two of Manhattan’s most elite white-tablecloth restaurants: Per Se and Lincoln.
After such a distinguished career, Benno easily could have rested on his laurels. Instead, the fine-dining luminary recently gathered an all-star team to launch a trio of new restaurants in the city’s central NoMad neighborhood: Leonelli Taberna, Leonelli Focacceria-Pasticceria, and the eponymous Benno. Lincoln alum Ben Ciancioso leads the Leonelli kitchen as chef de cuisine; talented bread-baker Lisa Kalemkiarian runs the Focacceria and provides loaves for all three restaurants; and pastry chef Lindsey Bittner, who has worked at Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, and Gramercy Tavern, heads up the sweets program, turning out elevated classic Italian treats that would make your nonna pale.
Last week, the whole team threw one heck of a dinner party in the SAVEUR test kitchen.