Jesus Nunez, a hotshot chef who came to New York from Spain to helm Gastroarte (or Graffit as it was known when it opened) on 69th Street, has left to run the kitchen in a new restaurant. Barraca, a new Spanish restaurant, is expected to open at 81 Greenwich Street next week, serving tapas until 3 a.m.
Gastroarte, for the moment, is closed “for kitchen restoration,” as Eater first reported.
“We’re opening with a new brand new chef. We’re very excited,” Soni, a manager, told us. “We’ll be open soon. This month.”
Graffit opened in December 2010 and was sued a few month later by another restaurant called Graffiti (a nice welcome to America!). Nunez eventually agreed to change the restaurant’s name to Gastroarte. The reviews were good: Nunez “renders food surreal,” wrote Sam Sifton of the New York Times in a review. He turns common ingredients into new shapes — like cauliflower that looked like an egg. He even made it onto Iron Chef, and nearly won with some exciting dishes like “Saffron cream with milk boiled octopus, pil-pil and crispy tentacles.”
We’ll miss him. In a neighborhood with too few inventive restaurants, Nunez briefly bucked the trend.