There is a light at the end of the restaurant opening tunnel for Mario Nocifera and his business partner Alex Figura, owners of Lower 48. An industry veteran, Nocifera embarked on the search of a perfect location for his first restaurant over two years ago. In March this year, he finally signed a lease on a 2,800-square-foot space in a residential development located at 2020 Lawrence Street in the Ballpark neighborhood.
In a matter of days, the "American restaurant that embraces regional cuisine," as Nocifera describes it, will welcome guests in a comfortable and contemporary that can accommodate up to 98 guests in the dining room, the bar, a communal bar-height table, and a chef's counter.
The interior is a combination of modern and reclaimed materials in a neutral color scheme with a red accent color. The restaurant used materials found in an airplane graveyard, including the structure built above the bar and a door that separates the private dining area from the rest of the restaurant
What to expect from the food at Lower 48? The ingredient-driven menu includes dishes like the Grain Crisp, made with house pickled fruit, nut butter, and mustards; the Johnny Cake, which includes fermented fruit, sunchoke cream, and greens; and the Crispy Hen Egg that includes collard greens, maitakes, and potlikker. On the dessert list there is the Citrus & Meringues, complemented with citrus curd, sweet & sour granita, and shortbread, as well as the Carolina Rice Pudding, including chocolate mousse, brown butter hazelnuts, and caramelized yogurt.
To go along with the food at this new Ballpark eatery, the team at Lower 48 enlisted master sommelier Brett Zimmerman who of the Boulder Wine Merchant to create the wine list in harmony with the dishes served. Brandon Brough, formerly of the Squeaky Bean, joined the team as head bartender and he promises an strong and edited cocktail list .
And speaking of the team, the chef and partners, Alex Figura has an impressive resume which includes stints at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York; Osteria and Verti in Philadelphia; and El Cellar de Can Roca, a three-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Spain. Figura met his partner/owner Mario Nocifera while the two worked at Frasca Food and Wine. For his part, Nocifera's experience in the hospitality industry includes Little Nell in Aspen; Charles Nob Hill, a now-closed San Francisco Michael Mina restaurant; and the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, where he was the manager and maître d'. Frasca alum Gregory Schesser has also joined the kitchen as sous chef.
Lower48 is slated to open next week when it will start serving dinner six nights a week and be closed on Sundays.
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