After sitting dark since March 2017, the former Mozza Mia – and, before that, Tejas – is coming back to life, in a major way.
“Modern fine dining,” is how Moderna Kouzina chef/owner Ashii Vrohidis is describing her ambitious new venture.
“We’re bringing sophistication and elegance to 50th and France,” she said. “Instead of white tablecloths, we have solid, three-inch-thick walnut tabletops.”
The menu’s format? “Taking French cuisine and making it more approachable, and seasonal,” she said. “We’ll be working with local farmers and butchers, and integrating flavors from all over – Morocco, Dubai, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong – with French technique.”
Expect to see foie gras torchon, beef tartare with quail egg, wood-fired oysters and suckling pig for starters ($10 to $18) and entrees expect beef tenderloin, slow-braised veal with sweetbreads, scallops with a lemon beurre blanc, lamb tenderloin and a Gruyere-topped burger ($19 to $39). Cocktails, beer and wine, too.
The space has been gutted and rebuilt.
“There’s nothing left of the old location,” said Vrohidis.
As for the name, “it’s 'Modern Kitchen' in at least six languages,’” said Vrohidis, who is of Croatian descent. “In conversation in Italian and Croatian and Greek, it all sounds about the same. It’s the letters that are all slightly different between languages.”
The plan is to open no later than August. Vrohidis & Co. will begin with dinner and Sunday brunch service. Lunch will come along in 2019, after the neighborhood’s considerable construction and parking issues settle down.
After serving as a consultant to restaurant projects around the world (“I can’t count on my fingers, there have been that many,” she said), the well-traveled Vrohidis has devoted the past several years to making Moderna Kouzina a reality.
“All I did was open restaurants for other people,” she said. “But then this was the game we decided to play, when asked the question, ‘What do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ The answer is ‘Cook for people and make them happy'.”
Back up a moment: “We”?
“I’m the 100-percent owner of the company,” said Vrohidis. “But I’m uncomfortable saying ‘me’ or ‘I,’ because it’s not about me. All restaurants work as a team. We’re in the midst of hiring 48 employees.”
Still, Vrohidis is acting as restaurateur, interior designer and head chef.
“I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “It’s stressful, but rewarding.”