Orange Croc aficionado Mario Batali and legendary chef Jeremiah Tower — who spent a minute at NYC’s maligned Tavern on the Green and is the star of Anthony Bourdain’s new documentary — have a restaurant in the works. Earlier this week, Tower told Bon Appetit, "If Mario Batali would like to open a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast with me, I would do it." Today, Batali revealed on Twitter that the two superstar chefs are actually in the “planning phase.”
We are in the planning phase. Stay tuned !! https://t.co/3LmYlsdkha— Mario Batali (@Mariobatali) April 27, 2017
Eater reached out to confirm, and a spokesperson for Batali says that this is not a joke and the chefs are indeed on the hunt for beach-front properties between Atrani and Vietri along Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Update 05/03/17: Tower seems as-yet uncommitted to the restaurant. During a press junket in Toronto, he told writer Melissa Buote that he “[doesn’t] know” if the project will happen. “I’ll have to wait until I get to New York and have lunch with Mario,” he says.
Tower also explained that the notion of a Batali-Tower collaboration started as a joke, told “with Anthony Bourdain on a street corner somewhere in Manhattan.” Tower says: “I had sort of run dry at that moment, so if someone said, ‘What are you doing next?,’ I said, ‘Well, you know, if Mario Batali wants to open a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast — that is a dream, after all of any chef — I would do it.’ And then Tony Bourdain said, ‘Well count me in, we’ll do it.’ And of course Twitter went mad or something.”
However, if Tower were to open a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast, he did reveal its pared down concept: "It’s on the beach; you have a blackboard and let’s say you have five lobsters, you cook those and when those are out, you wipe them off the board... It’s whatever somebody landed to your back door of the kitchen that day. That kind of cooking I never get tired of."
Batali, one of the country’s most well-established television personalities, is based in NYC and owns and operates dozens of restaurants from Las Vegas to California to Singapore. He, along with business partner Joe Bastianich, are particularly well-known for Eataly, their chain of larger-than-life Italian food emporiums. Batali’s newest restaurant, Manzo, opened up inside Manhattan’s first Eataly location in March.
Tower is currently promoting the documentary The Last Magnificient, which covers his storied history in some of the country’s most renowned kitchens, including California cuisine pioneer Alice Water’s NoCal-based Chez Panisse and his once highly-lauded (and now closed) Stars. Tower took years off after Stars closed, and did not fare well the last time he was behind a stove. A restaurant with fellow celebrity chef Batali could be just the thing to get Tower back in the game.
Additional reporting by Melissa Buote.