Roberto Passon has left his namesake restaurant, for five years a recommendable option in the Theater District. Partner Enrico Malta, who operates the New York City Restaurant Group along with his brother Bobby, tells us they plan to replace Passon with Giuliano Matarese (currently the chef at one of their other restaurants, La Carbonara) and theyll rename the restaurant Giuliano. Asked why Passon left so suddenly (this just happened today, Malta said), Malta told us it was an amicable split and that Passon wants to take some time off and open up on his own. The chef had been with the Malta brothers ever since 2003 he opened Scarlatto and Bocca di Bacco with them.
Malta says Matareses new menu will debut December 7, and Passon fans such as Ron Corning can expect a more seasonal menu, with entres under $18 (currently, some items are as much as $23). The cuisine will be inspired by Naples and Sardinia, from which Matarese hails. Asked whether lowering his prices has worked out for him, Malta told us, I think thats what Im going to do from now on. I gotta make a little bit of a profit, but consistently. As long as every chair is filled, I know Im going to make a profit. I think thats a recessionproof restaurant, and thats where were heading right now.