Empellon Alum Opens West Village All-Day Café with SoCal Vibes
La Ventura brings a taste of the coast to New York City with a strong cocktail menu to match.
Tonight, an Empellon alum teams up with Ryan Burke and Kenneth McCoy of beloved New York City cocktail spots Ward III and The Rum House to bring coastal Mediterrenean vibes to the West Village. La Ventura, which will serve as an all-day café, cocktail bar, and dinner spot, draws inspiration from Burke’s Southern California upbringing, as well as McCoy’s travels through coastal Italy.
Burke hopes his experience with the neighborhood, where he and his family have lived for a decade, will make the new venture a natural go-to spot for other locals. “Can you be a restaurant that people wanna eat in multiple times a week? We want to be a community destination, and not so much just a flash in the pan," Burke says. "We want to be around for a long time."
Chef Peter Lipson’s menu is all about reimagined classics, like a simple lamb burger with pepperoncini relish and cave-aged cheddar cheese smoked in-house atop a brioche bun slathered in spiced mayo with cloves, cardamom, and star anise. “A little trip to Mexico was inspiration, there,” he says, describing the a birria taco stand that braised meats with African spices. “The smoky cheese and lamb has a bit of a barbacoa flavor, and then the spices bring home the birria broth.”
There’s also a sunchoke kebab, which Lipson says he hopes will function as a truly hearty, exciting vegetarian option. “We take sunchokes and marinate them in jerk seasoning. It kind of has the kofte look to it, and it gets served with refried lentils instead of black beans and a bright tomatillo salsa, plus a house made garlic pita bread.”
As for the beverage program, fans of Ward III and The Rum House can expect a similarly strong cocktail menu at La Ventura. Early all-day menu highlights include The Scorpion, which involves kombucha, mezcal, aperol, and mint, as well as the Vitti, which packs a real punch with gin, italicus bergamot liqueur, and passion fruit liqueur. Although much of the menu is conducive to sharing, Lipson emphasizes that La Ventura is not a small plates or tapas joint. “We want you to go home full,” he says, laughing.