New Chef, New Focus: A Chat with Bistro 24’s Pierre Mange

Set to open next Monday, Bistro 24 will replace City Grill as Lupa Trattoria owner Stefano Coppola’s second restaurant. A few months after opening the Grill in January, Coppola realized he just didn’t have the time for both it and Lupa and he decided to sell. That’s when 27-year-old Pierre Mange, then sous-chef at nearby Contigo, approached him. With experience at SPQR and Chow, and training from the California Culinary Academy, Mange persuaded Coppola to let him help revamp the restaurant instead of selling it. Now they’re reopening as a wine-centric bistro with Mange running the kitchen. We caught up with Mange on the phone to ask him about the new spot on 24th Street.

How will Bistro 24 be different from City Grill?
In the near future we’ll do some little changes, like add a wine bar and a community table, but for now the layout is about the same. The look is a lot different. We took out the paneling and painted the walls. It’s got a different atmosphere to it. We’re taking away the neighborhood diner approach with mediocre food and drinks and focusing on local, sustainable food from local purveyors and farms. Everything’s going to be done in-house. It’s going to be close to fine dining. It’s going to be casual, but the ordering [will be] more like fine dining. We’re keeping the price point down and the value up.

What’s the menu like?
It’s new American comfort food with some plays on home-style cooking. You’ll see fried chicken and mac and cheese and stuff like that as well as grilled oysters and also some Mediterranean-themed stuff. We’re looking at 15 small plates and five large. We’re also going to bring on quite a bit of wine. We’re aiming to bring in about 50 [varieties] on the list with about 20-30 available by the glass. We’re going to go for a more eclectic, harder to find wine list from around the world.

As a chef, what will you be able to do at Bistro 24 that you couldn’t do at Contigo?
I just have a little more freedom, more menu decisions and development as far as that goes. I felt a little limited in the Spanish cuisine thing. I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s not necessarily my cup of tea.

What elements are you bringing to the new job from Contigo?
I’m not copying anything off the menu, but there will be some Italian and Spanish elements.

Photo via Noe Valley SF

New Chef, New Focus: A Chat with Bistro 24’s Pierre Mange