We’ve now discovered the name (or the working "placeholder" one, at least) for the restaurant that food blogger Ben Leventhal, along with Cobi Levy of Charles, is opening at 170 Mercer, where they've just signed a lease. The name (drumroll, please): Commodore. Though that might smack of another throwback project along the lines of the Breslin or the Vanderbilt, get this — Commodore will actually be, in part, a sushi restaurant lead by Hiroji Sawatari (who is currently head chef at Morimoto’s Philadelphia location and a five-year veteran of Sushi Yasuda).
The investors are banking on Sawatari being a media-friendly toque along the lines of his current boss, but to hedge their bets, they’ve also hired Josh DeChellis, currently executive chef at La Fonda del Sol, as Commodore’s consulting chef de cuisine. DeChellis tells us it's more of a "general counsel" position and that he "will never be cooking at the Commodore, ever — not for a hot second," as any further involvement would jeopardize his current position at La Fonda del Sol. Nevertheless, he's attached to the project, and it's worth noting that he hasn’t done the Japanese-fusion thing since he left the now-defunct Sumile Sushi for his short-lived tempura adventure, BarFry. It'll be interesting to see whether he can help end the high-end sushi drought.
Speaking of the food: Sawatari’s kitchen will be turning out an omakase menu, plus creative raw dishes such as toro tacos, fusion-minded cooked-fish option, soups and ramen, and some meat entrees, as well.