Two well-regarded LA restaurants are settling into shared East Coast digs this week in New York City. The folks behind Santa Monica’s year-old Crudo e Nudo are opening a sustainable seafood concept called Bella Dea starting tomorrow, while Breakfast by Salt’s Cure will continue to operate in the mornings from the same West Village space.
Chef Chris Phelps of Breakfast by Salt’s Cure located the New York City storefront last year and invited Crudo e Nudo’s co-owners Brian Bornemann and Leena Culhane to bring their raw Italian seafood restaurant east. Prior to teaming up, the trio met at pop-up events in Los Angeles and bonded over a shared ethos for sourcing sustainable ingredients. “We both have these very specific concepts — kind of complementary in that [Phelps] was doing breakfast, we can take over right after. It was an easy transition,” says Bornemann, who serves as the executive chef for both locations. Taking the day-to-day reigns at Bella Dea are New York-based hospitality veterans chef Joe Barron (Tria, Terroir) and Zoe Wilkins (BLC Oyster Bar, Terroir, Esme).
The shared space on the ground floor of 27 1/2 Morton Street — a six-story, 1910s-era building — was secured last July. Culhane spearheaded the restaurant’s redesign and replaced the former occupants’ dark wood paneling and moody interior with whitewashed walls, aqua wainscoting, and modern lighting. The transformation took just nine days last September while the restaurant was awaiting its wine license. Whereas Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica offers only outdoor sidewalk seating, Bella Dea boasts 50 indoor and 20 outdoor seats.
The New York City menu diverges from the original’s mostly raw offerings with a few cooked dishes, including steamed mussels and croquettes with roasted garlic aioli. Consistent between both locations is a strong emphasis on sourcing sustainable seafood, plenty of vegan options, and a wide selection of biodynamic and low-intervention wines. “It’s kind of surprising to be a sustainable seafood venture with a pretty substantial vegan menu,” says Culhane. “But it works because it’s the way that Brian and I eat. It’s a lot of veggies, a lot of well-sourced fish. We made the menu and we made the operation the way that we would dream to have it.” The opening menu is below.
Bornemann and Culhane launched Crudo e Nudo as a pandemic pop-up and settled into a permanent location on Santa Monica’s Main Street last spring. Breakfast by Salt’s Cure, as well as its sister concept Salt’s Cure, is best known for Phelp’s oatmeal griddle cakes and has been a staple brunch destination since opening in 2011.
Bella Dea will operate Thursday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for its inaugural week. The restaurant will begin its regular hours of operations — Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. — on May 11, with happy hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.