Downtown Excelsior quietly lost an Italian restaurant at the end of October. At the same time, it gained promise of a new one — albeit a more casual, approachable version.
Red Sauce Rebellion (205 Water St., Excelsior), a new concept from the folks behind Coalition, will debut on the footprint of the former Victor’s on Water — an Italian restaurant — in early December, following a complete renovation. Victor’s closed on Oct. 29, three days before co-owners Eli Wollenzien and Deacon Eells signed the new lease.
The new vibe will be decidedly more laid back: Think meatballs, baked ziti and chicken Parmesan. Wollenzien, who also co-owns the two Coalition outposts in downtown Excelsior and at 50th and France, calls the concept “red and white-sauce Italian.”
“It’s definitely not authentic. It’s Americanized, but it’s fun,” he said. “It’s the Italian we all grew up with. Over the years, that kind of place seems to have taken a lower rung in the food scene, and our goal is to see that come back.”
To make the space match the menu, Wollenzien and Eells are removing the drop ceiling to expose the building’s rafters, and they’ll add new light fixtures, banquettes and corner booths. The bar will get a lighter wood finish and a granite counter.
On the menu? Soups and salads, appetizers such as charred oysters and fritto misto and of course lots of pasta, with — why not? — Alfredo sauce making an appearance.
“I think this fits a need in this town,” Wollenzien said. “People eat out so frequently now and in general, they’re going to places where they’re most comfortable. They want quality, but they also want it to be fun and something they recognize.”
A back courtyard, which was never used by Victor’s, will transform into a substantial patio next spring. And later this winter, the duo hopes to add a basement cocktail lounge and event space, calling it Rebel Lounge.
New offerings around town
Kado No Mise (33 1st Av. N., Mpls., kadonomise.com), the Japanese restaurant that debuted in the former Origami location earlier this year, will now be open seven days a week after previously closing on Mondays, and has also instigated a Monday through Friday happy hour (5-7 p.m.). A few blocks away, whiskey emporium Dalton & Wade (323 Washington Av. N., Mpls., daltonandwadempls.com) has added lunch service Monday through Friday (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.).