The casual side of Mercuri - the side with the colossal fire pit - will open May 1, regardless if the extravagant oven is up to snuff just yet.
"We still need to install the chimney," reports manager Alfie Mangione, a former partner in Brama and Anabel Bar et vin, "and that may take a few extra weeks. But the owners (the Houston restaurant group) want to get the other side of the restaurant up sooner rather than later."
The other side will have a different name as well, Bar Mercuri, with emphasis on plates to share and food that is decidedly less twee and delicate than the menu dégustation fare at Mercuri.
"The music will be a little louder too. We'll bring in DJs a couple times a week," says Mangione. "Different vibe."
For his part, chef Joe Mercuri is keen to divide his energy between the adjacent spaces on the corner of Wellington and Soeurs Grises.
"My cooks are excited to start service on the bar side. Because of the size [Bar Mercuri has roughly twice the floor space] it would be unrealistic for me to do the kind of food I do here [at Mercuri]. So it'll be more casual. Once we fire up the big oven, we'll be able to do a lot of cool stuff. I'll go back and forth between the two kitchens, overseeing everything. It's gonna be a lot of fun."