A new Italian restaurant known for excellent pizza is slated to open in the spot vacated last year by The West Branch, the restaurant run by noted chef Tom Valenti.

Serafina, an Italian restaurant chain, is seeking a liquor license to operate a new restaurant called Serafina 77 on the corner of 77th Street and Broadway, although it’s not expected to open immediately. A manager for the company’s theater district restaurant told me that the opening is likely still months away.

Serafina’s thin-crust pizzas get good marks, and the owners have a strong track record: they opened Japanese fusion restaurant Geisha on the Upper East Side with Eric Ripert in 2003.

“The owners take pizza seriously, and the individual pizzas are excellent. The toppings can get unusual, and the simplest are best, like fresh herbs, olives and Parmesan; spicy sausage, or even just olive oil and salt,” the Times says.

The West Branch, which got a friendly one-star review in the Times, and was heralded for adding panache to the Upper West Side’s uneven dining scene, just couldn’t cut it as the economy went south. It was considered a slightly less pricey version of Ouest, Valenti’s other well-loved neighborhood joint. Serving mostly Mediterranean comfort foods, along with wild cards like fish and chips and escargots, the restaurant was popular but apparently not popular enough.

Grub Street had speculated that restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow would reopen The West Branch, perhaps with a new chef, but that never happened.

Thanks to Gavan Vogler for the tip and the photo below. West Branch photo by ZagatBuzz via flickr.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 2 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Bennett says:

      You do a very nice job with this paper. I enjoy it.

    2. Susan says:

      I just noticed that all references to serafina have been removed from the old west branch windows…and they still seem to be trying to lease it. I wonder if it fell through…