Ivan Sayles and Rich Venticinque of Rachel’s Waterside Grill are rallying to bring Long Islanders their own bit of the Big Easy. On April 1, Sayles, Venticinque, Sal “Big Daddy” Bisulca and partners will open Nawlins Seafood Co., a two-story New Orleans-style restaurant embodying all of the taste, pomp and spirit of Bourbon Street.
Situated just between Rachel’s and Bracco’s in the space formerly occupied by Bonito Hibachi and Sushi, Nawlins will resemble Bourbon Street’s side-by-side voodoo vendors and bars from the street, complete with Spanish-era landmark tiling. On the canal side, an enormous riverboat wheel will hail boaters who can dock and simply walk up to the restaurant’s rear entrance.
Sayles and Venticinque have a reputation for restaurant excellence. Rachel’s has long been the name for five-star dining on the South Shore, voted the Best Seafood Restaurant on Long Island for four years. With Nawlins, the partners are attempting to bring their culinary expertise to a younger and broader demographic. The slogan “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” said Sayles, “is French for ‘let the good times roll.’” And Nawlins will appeal to foodies and hipsters galore, with craft beers and a menu that lives up to Sayles and Venticinque’s platinum standard.
Sayles described the Nawlins experience as one of colorful authenticity. “You won’t find Jimmy Buffet here,” Sayles said. “We’ll have live zydeco, jazz and blues bands.”
They sourced windows, shutters, artwork and lighting from New Orleans’ historic 9th Ward, an area destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Murals, 3D artwork and dropaway shelving will add a modern twist and keep patrons on their toes. While the second level balcony view will only be available for private parties, Nawlins’ public first-floor space will feature an indoor/outdoor bar. Both indoor and waterfront dining will be available to patrons, as well as a small strip Sayles called “Café Decatur,” an outdoor “hanging garden” area dedicated to chicory coffee and signature beignets in the style of the French Quarter’s Café Du Monde.
And for food there will of course be a real New Orleans menu.
“Po’ boys, charred oysters, blackened smoked pork chop and tequila jacked crawfish chowder—this is the real deal, the real Bourbon Street experience,” Sayles said.
With April still three months away, Sayles and Venticinque have begun tasting menu items for Nawlins at Rachel’s Waterside Grill. Their current “Mardi Gras pre-fixe menu” features shrimp and crawfish Diablo, jambalaya pasta and a fried bread pudding under a sweet whiskey sauce Allen Toussaint would play for. Come April 1 he just might.
NAWLINS SEAFOOD CO will be located at 301 Woodcleft Avenue in Freeport, opening April 1, 2016.