Chef Dani Garcia opens two new restaurants in New York
After chef Dani Garcia received his third Michelin star for the Dani Garcia group in December 2018, he felt adrift, unsure of what to do next. He had reached the peak of his career at just 44 – three is the maximum number of Michelin stars a group can receive – and was considered one of the best gourmet chefs in the world. But the Spanish chef had more plans.
The chef and owner of Dani Garcia Group – parent of Bibo, Dani Garcia Restaurant, Lobito De Mar, Leña, Smoked Room and Dani Brasserie – decided to turn everything his team was doing on his head.
“There are only 120 people in the world [with three Michelin stars], we have to feel good, but we are going to change our mentality. We’re here at the top of the gastronomy pyramid and now we’re going to reverse it and descend, ”Garcia told Restaurant Hospitality just before Christmas. “We want to be closer to the people.
In December 2021, Garcia made his New York City debut with the opening of the elevated restaurant Casa Dani, in partnership with Sam Nazarian and Disruptive Restaurant Group, the catering arm of Nazarian’s SBE hotel company.
Returning to New York City for the first time in years, Garcia set out to create his most personal restaurant yet – Casa Dani literally translates to ‘Dani’s house’.
Located in Manhattan’s new Citizens Food Market, Casa Dani focuses on foods Garcia ate growing up, such as kibbles, paella, tortillas, and rice. It also serves dishes from southern Spain like fresh seafood and tuna, with an entire section of the menu devoted to fish.
“It’s my most personal restaurant, for sure,” he said.
Traditional Spanish cuisine is meant to bring Garcia and New Yorkers back to Spain.
“I think it’s extremely important that our first run in New York is very personal and 100% Spanish. Because you’re a Spanish chef, New Yorkers probably want Spanish food from a Spanish chef, ”he said.
“As our name suggests, Casa Dani is an invitation into my culinary home and with inspirations from my youth,” Garcia said in a statement upon opening last month. “We spent last year at perfecting our new menu, which offers the best of Spanish tradition and something for everyone! The menu items range from our famous tapas to a whole section dedicated specifically to tuna and for good reason we imported from Spain some of the best tuna in the world. Additional items showcase Spanish favorites including croquetas de jamon and branzino cooked in black salt. At Casa Dani, we strive to bring as much as possible from Spain and my home to yours.
Chef Garcia spoke to Restaurant Hospitality just before Christmas, describing his favorite Christmas tradition in Spain: eating baby eels while on vacation.
It is this tradition that served as the inspiration for the menu at Casa Dani, where seafood comes directly from Spain.
While much of the fish comes from across the ocean, many other ingredients are sourced from New York City depending on the season.
“I am delighted to be working alongside innovative chef Dani Garcia, one of the world’s greatest chefs, to create an experience like no other at Casa Dani,” Nazarian said in a statement. “With Disruptive Restaurant Group, we are proud to be at the forefront of cooking and culinary technique. We are excited to take this concept one step further and highlight the global experience created by Chef Dani Garcia and his team.
This upscale fine-dining restaurant isn’t all Garcia opened at Citizens. It also opened its first rapid service point in the history of the Dani Garcia Group: El Pollo Verde.
But this is not his first foray into QSR. Garcia has worked with McDonald’s in Spain for seven years, creating new menu additions for the Spanish version of the brand.
“For me, the most important thing is the balance between quality and price,” he said.