By JOHN T. WARD
But first, it will have to do some rebranding.
What was to have been Blu Bistro + Bar will instead be called B2 Bistro + Bar to avoid conflict with a brand of electronic cigarettes and an alehouse, says Russell D’Anton, a principal in the Shrewsbury Avenue business.
B2 cleared its final hurdles with borough inspectors Wednesday morning, obtaining a certificate of occupancy for the 130-seat restaurant and bar.
Anton tells redbankgreen B2 is shooting for a soft opening in about a week, and to open to the general public on Sunday, June 27.
Visitors familiar with the former Sal’s Tavern, which occupied the space for six decades, and its short-lived successors Andre and Lily’s, Two If By Sea and Siena Grille, won’t recognize the space. The old-world bar and dining room have been gutted to the brick walls and decorated in spare, modern style that makes ample use of raw-looking wood planks.
General manager Andrew Rasizer, 29, a nine-year veteran of Piccola Italia in Ocean Township and holder of a sommelier designation, plans to oversee a 50-bottle wine selection that changes seasonally, as well as agleaming chrome 16-tap beer setup that looks like it belongs on a new firetruck. Among the brands: Carton Brewing from Atlantic Highlands and Firestone Walker.
“We want to focus on a different style of bartending,” said Rasizer, “kind of a New York City feel with a comfortable atmosphere, where the bartenders are almost chefs at their craft.”
Behind the bar are four large-screen TVs inset into wood framing, with a fifth in a corner. The dining room will have no TVs.
Working in a kitchen visible to patrons, 31-year-old chef Cesare ‘Chez’ De Chellis plans to offer dishes from the Mediterranean, including French, Italian, Morroccan and Spanish.
“I want to bring the influence of those flavors, at a price point low enough so you could eat here several times a week,” said DeChellis, who cut his teeth working at country clubs and a New York City restaurant.
Both De Chellis and Rasizer have degrees from the Culinary Institute of America.