Tonight Southside, Bar Martignetti’s new basement lounge, will open with a private party and attempt to give Chloe a run for its money in the category of side-entrance, sub-bistro lounge. When we stopped in earlier this week to chat with owners Anthony Martignetti and James Willis, we couldn’t help but think of 1Oak when we saw the tile floor, but Martignetti says he was thinking of Indochine and Le Colonial when he brought in fake palms and spent six weeks and six figures turning Bella’s into a smaller-capacity (176 people) venue. He’ll retain his doorman, the veteran moat-minder Q, and tells us entry won’t be a problem so long as you “show up and have a smile on your face and you’re nice.” But be careful if you’re part of the preppy set that Bar Mar is famous for: “We’ve told our doorman to stay away from the young, straight-out-of-Middlebury/Trinity crowd.”
Rather than using promoters, who Martignetti describes as “a virus on nightlife,” he is relying on Willis, a former Ruby’s and Kingswood manager, to bring the Tsubi-wearers. Willis’s D.J. friends, like Nick Cohen of Upper Echelon Shoes and Damien Hesse (formerly of Sneaky Sound System), will have the benefit of a newly centralized D.J. podium and a $300,000 system designed by Integral Sound (Kiss and Fly, Pink Elephant, and Cielo). A no hip-hop rule remains intact, but instead of Guns N’ Roses and Journey, you’ll now be hearing a mix of soul, deep funky house, electro, punk, disco, and so on.
Though a hostess will now greet folks, à la La Esquina, the emphasis won’t be on bottle service. Instead, Martignetti says that he and his bartender, Dennis Denisoff (formerly of Balthazar and Pastis), are working on a “gourmet fishbowl.” There’ll be a traditional Singapore Sling; a drink made with papaya puree and cucumber-infused gin, a blueberry cognac drink, and (something Martignetti is particularly excited about) a frothy $17 piña colada, served in a cognac snifter and consisting solely of rum, fresh coconut meat, and nutmeg.
Will all this be enough to turn the place from preppy to Nolita hipster? It remains to be seen, but Martignetti says Southside will be his last nightclub. "I love the food and wine aspect of a restaurant. Down here you can only provide awesome music and cocktails — there’s a whole different element in a restaurant." Then again, the place will serve fries.
Southside, 406 Broome St., at Cleveland St.; 212-680-5601