Lillo & Ella [Photos: Courtesy]
The former home of El Gran Malo will soon house chef Kevin Naderi's Lillo & Ella, slated to open the first week of May. The Roost chef and owner has already transformed the Heights-area building and has been hard at work developing the menu and putting the finishing touches on the interior. According to the Chron's Alison Cook, the space will seat about 150, including the patio area. As for the name, Cook says it references the restaurant's street—Ella Boulevard—and Edward Crain, Sr., the developer who named the street in the 1930s, and whose nickname was Lillo.
Naderi's new restaurant will offer pan-Asian fare in the form of snacks, small plates, skewers, salads and full entrees. This will be a departure from Roost, where Naderi's wide-ranging menu calls on flavor profiles from all over the globe. Instead, Lillo & Ella will have one central focus applied a variety of ways. "I like the simple clean and bright flavors," Naderi tells Eater, explaining why he chose to focus on Asian fusion. He says that he also noticed that there's "not much Asian in the Heights." Naderi hopes to remedy that in May, when he, bar manager Aaron Lara—formerly of Haven—and general manager Chris Fleischman officially debut the new Heights-area Asian restaurant. Here now, take a peek at the in-progress exterior and kitchen: