The old, old-school tradition of New York inns such as the Beatrice, Waverly, and maybe Ear continues in early 2015 with the opening of Llama Inn at 50 Withers Street. The Williamsburg restaurant’s name was chosen by chef Erik Ramirez, who was formerly at Nuela, Raymi, and Eleven Madison Park, specifically because the idea of an inn “connotes warmth, friendliness and hospitality.” The first half, it turns out, is a nod to his Peruvian heritage, but also Inge Morath’s iconic image of a llama sticking its very adorable head out of the window of a yellow cab, which first ran in a 1957 issue of Life.
Ramirez is right now traveling through Peru to gather inspiration for his menu, and is spending time with Virgilio Martínez Véliz of Central Restaurante and Gastón Acurio. He’s been developing variations on tiradito, a kind of Peruvian ceviche, and last year chatted with Serious Eats about the various challenges he faced in getting the exact ingredients he needed, like white cocoa beans, for his menus at Raymi.
He tells Grub Street that while the build-out of Llama Inn has been under wraps for a few months, it has been in development for a much longer time. “We wanted to find the right space and the right time to do our take on Peruvian flavors and ingredients,” he says.
The restaurant will have 60 seats, a seasonal roof deck, and an open kitchen, and is tentatively scheduled to open in March.
50 Withers St., nr. Lorimer St., Williamsburg; no phone yet