Both veterans of Jean Georges’ Mercer Kitchen, chef Richard Diamonte and managing partner Artan Gjoni merge talents at their new Nolita brasserie Ken & Cook, where Wagyu burgers and oysters rein amid the tin ceiling-exposed brick surroundings.
“We’ve created a restaurant that is casual, yet serious at the same time,” Diamonte says. “Coming from a fine dining background, we wanted to maintain our standards but mold them into a more accessible setting.” The accessibility of the atmosphere extends to the cuisine, which Diamonte describes as honest, fresh, uncomplicated, and accommodating.
Both men agree on their favorite menu item: the squid in a yogurt-chili-mint sauce. And with years of experience working and cooking in New York’s finest restaurants, they insist the greatest ingredient is quality. “Quality of your ingredients, quality of your food, and quality of management,” Diamonte says. “I believe you need all three to be successful.”