The Coolinary may have just opened on Sarasota's Main Street, but its roots lie in Budapest. That's where chef Attila Bicsár comes from, and that's where chef William Goldenberg connected with the project, which is owned by a team that operates more than 40 restaurants around Europe.
Goldenberg moved to Budapest in 2003. He grew up working at his father's New York City deli, busing tables as early as age 7, before getting into catering, but he was out of the food industry for much of his time in Hungary. It wasn't till several years after he arrived that a friend asked him to redesign a breakfast menu for an eatery there. "That's how I got back into the kitchen," he says. He started cooking barbecue in Budapest, serving American-style brisket to Hungarian crowds, and later worked at a hip spot called Brklyn. Bicsár, meanwhile, comes from a fine dining background, with a string of stints in high-level kitchens in Hungary and London (including at the Michelin-recognized Wild Honey), as well as visits to the French Culinary Institute and work with Hyatt Hotels.
The Bicsár-Goldenberg high-low team-up can be seen in the restaurant's menu, which features both complicated techniques (lamb confit that's shredded then pressed back together), as well as snackable bar food (chicken wings make an appearance). Goldenberg says the goal is always "harmony" on the plates—matching proteins with creatively prepared vegetables and sauces. The bar serves hand-crafted cocktails with house-made syrups and blends.
The restaurant's design echoes the food's high-low vibe. The look is swanky but not pretentious, with a romantic bar area, wooden tables with brown paper sheets and comfortable mod chairs. The restaurant occupies the second-story Main Street space that previously housed The Irish Pub and Grille, Stairway to Belgium and a bunch of other spots I can't even remember. Tables sit next to windows that offer elevated street views, offering an urban ambiance that's rare in these parts. Based just on its looks, The Coolinary is a serious upgrade over everything that's come before in this space.
Bicsár, 44, and Goldenberg, 39, both arrived in Sarasota in August to open the restaurant. Goldenberg is staying on to run the kitchen, while Bicsár plans to move on in a few months. The restaurant is dinner-only for the time being, but Goldenberg says if the demand is there, they will add lunch, too.
The Coolinary opened just two weeks ago, and the crowds are growing week by week. Early feedback is positive, Goldenberg says: "We're getting rave reviews with our food."
The Coolinary is located at 1359 Main St., Sarasota, and is open 6 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Saturday. Call (941) 312-4773 or click here for more info.