Jason Denton on Bar Milano’s ‘Teca-Support

imageA little over a week after Joe and Jason Denton’s eight month-old baby Bar Milano closed its doors in light of the bad economy (or rather, not pulling the crowds in), it reopened as an additional branch of resto hit ‘inoteca, the popular and affordable panini-pressing factory downtown. Jason recently sat down to talk to us about a rough past month, the exciting changes he’s made, and what the future holds in moving forward with the reanimated version of Milano.

How have things been? Much better. It was a rough January.

Really? Well, you know, I’m just not used to not being open. We just kind of felt like — with the timing of everything, and the restaurant –that we needed to make a change. And it was a good change. We closed January 31 — that was our last night — and then we closed for the month of January and the first two weeks of February. We took out the carpets and laid hardwood floors, and farm tables, and a chandelier, and just kind of ‘inoteca-fied it.

How has the new place been? We’re having a lot of fun with it. We feel really good about some great responses, and you know, it’s the same menu as downtown — a lot of the signature dishes — and then plus, we’ve added a few new sections on the menu. We have a little section for pasta, which is just really, really simple pastas, like, spaghetti al olio. There’s a little panette, with pesto, and potatoes and beans. And then, we also have another little section called “Spiedini,” which are Italian skewers. So we have things like scallops with Jerusalem artichokes, or octopus and potatoes, or sausage with broccoli rabe and peppers. And yeah, we’re trying to keep it cheap. I think the price ranges for bruschettas are $3, and then it goes up to the average main course around $12 to $13. So it’s much more price-effective than Bar Milano was.

What’s the customer feedback been so far? I think so far people are really, really happy. I work the door every night, so I can greet everyone and see the reactions, and I feel like it was a good move. People always seem excited.

Any more changes to come? Well, right now, we’re just open for dinner, from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night — we serve food ‘til 3. And then in about a week and a half, we start delivering. And then we start lunch on April 1.

Is Bar Milano being missed? I don’t think so.

No? I don’t even remember it anymore [laughing]. I blocked it out.

What can we expect at the new ‘inoteca? We have a lot of fun things going on with the cocktails. We basically have some of the drinks that we had before, but now we’ve created a pretty cool little cocktail book that has around 40 cocktails. Classics and everything. And where on the old menu, we had drinks that were from $13 to $17, all our specialty cocktails and everything are $10. I think you can expect a lot of fun — it’s a new location — and you can mix great cocktails with a great selection of wines by the glass, and some new dishes from ‘inoteca. Also the ‘inoteca downtown is only for parties of six or more, but uptown, due to its size, we are talking about 20% of the restaurant we reserve out. So we still have tons of walk-ins, but if someone wants to guarantee a reservation, they should go online to OpenTable, or make a regular reservation.

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