Fresh from his smash success opening a sublime rooftop bar on the 50th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Nomad, the world’s top Michelin-starred, humanitarian chef is opening his most elevated fine-dining restaurant yet in the Big Apple — more than 30 years after he first sailed into town on a Spanish navy ship.
José Andrés will open a branch of his hit tapas spot Bazaar at the Ritz-Carlton this winter with a menu that will feature a surprising fusion of his native country’s little-known past, the chef exclusively told Side Dish.
“Japanese samurai warriors came to Spain in the 1600s,” Andrés said. “They didn’t have a culinary influence. But I’m telling their story. Bazaar is always eclectic and here in Nomad I will be creating Spanish and Japanese dishes that aren’t totally one or the other.”
“I am more than a cook,” the 53-year-old Spaniard added. “I’m a storyteller, and this is the story I wanted to tell. The food won’t be purely Spanish or Japanese. It will be a unique mix.”
The opening comes three decades after Andrés arrived in the city as a 21-year-old unknown to work at the popular Barcelona restaurant Eldorado Petit in Manhattan.
“This was my first home. I’m a New Yorker,” he said. “It’s emotional.”
But the renowned chef has had a limited footprint in the city until recently.
Andrés launched his first Bazaar in Beverly Hills in 2008. It was a hit and he has since opened outposts in Miami (set to close in March), Las Vegas and Chicago. Another is planned for Washington, DC. But unlike the other buzzy Bazaars — which focus on meat or seafood — the Bazaar at the Ritz-Carlton Nomad will have its own unique concept.
“We needed to find the perfect location, and partners, and this is it,” said Sam Bakhshandehpour, president of the José Andrés Group. “Nomad is in the midst of a transformation and it’s exciting to invest in the community. Our partners are visionaries and our Spain-meets-Japan theme will be a game changer.”
The restaurant, designed by Lazaro Rosa Violan, will seat around 130 people. It is in a new building designed by starchitect Rafael Vinoly and developed by Flag Luxury Group.
It comes on the heels of Andrés in late September unveiling Nubeluz, the 50th-floor cocktail bar that also tells a story, Andrés says, of the city itself, which lights up at night in front of guests’ eyes beyond the window walls.
At Nubeluz — an amalgam of the Spanish word “nube” (clouds) and “luz” (light) — “the story,” Andrés says, “is the view itself. You are touching the clouds.”
Nubeluz was “envisioned as a lightbox in the sky” by Vinoly, and designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio.
Sunset from the rooftop lounge’s two terraces is magical, as is the perfectly framed Empire State Building.
Inside, the decor, which includes a back-lit bar, is swathed in sunset tones of burnt orange and jewels that reflect the sky surrounding it.
There are no entrees here, just elevated cocktails and playful light bites reflecting life above the clouds, says culinary director Joris Larigaldie.
Think oysters with coconut, caviar and lemon “air” foam, like the clouds; anchovies wrapped in olives; labneh mixed with salmon roe, foie gras terrine on a date; grilled cheese with honey, thyme and mustard, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota Cinco Jotas with tomate fresco; and $25 labneh cones with caviar and lemon, or caviar on its own that runs up to $950 for 125 grams of Giaveri Beluga.
The cocktails, by Miguel Lancha – Andrés’ “cocktail innovator” – are smoky concoctions dramatically presented in their own swirls of fog, or clouds, while spirit-less mocktails also abound, from $16 to $24.
There’s Foggy Hill, with mezcal, vermouth, Cynar, Aperol and a theatrical orange-thyme “aromatic cloud;” and also an alcohol-free Firefly with Gnista Barreled Oak, saffron, Thai basil, Thai chile tincture and tonic.
Nubeluz seats 132 people inside, including the bar, while outside there are 12 seats on one terrace and room for 20 people on the other, at opposite ends of the bar.
Over the summer, Andres also opened Zaytinya, a Mediterranean eatery on the ground floor of the Ritz-Carlton, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The name plays on the Turkish word for olive oil and is an ode to the food of Turkey, Greece and Lebanon. The 140-seat eatery was designed by David Rockwell. (The first Zaytinya is in Washington, DC.)
The spate of openings are the first major expansion for Andrés into New York since Mercado Little Spain opened in Hudson Yards in 2019. That 35,000 square-foot space is a bustling Eataly-style food hall, with three sit-down restaurants by Andrés: Spanish Diner, a 100-seat space with its own entrance on the corner of 30th Street and 10th Avenue; Lena, with 65 seats, and Mar, with 40 seats.
When speaking with Andrés, you never know where he is calling from, as he’s often in a conflict or disaster zone.
This time when we speak, he is on Sanibel Island, Fla., where his non-profit World Central Kitchen has served more than 153,000 meals following Hurricane Ian. That’s in addition to the more than 400,000 means that WCK has served in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona. Even that pales to the more than 165 million meals and food bags that WCK has served, in cooperation with more than 550 partner restaurants, in Ukraine and border areas since Russia invaded last February.
All of the travel can be “overwhelming,” Andrés says, but it never gets old, even as his restaurants do — in a good way.
“Restaurants,” he says, “are like babies. They need nourishment and time. Then they take on lives of their own.”
WCK, which Andrés founded in 2010, also continues to grow.
“In the worst moments of humanity, the best of humanity shows up,” Andrés says.