Local restaurateur Nicolino Valletta said he hopes to bring New York style and West Coast flavor to New Haven with his newest creation, Nikkita. The restaurant, set to open its doors Sept. 22 at 200 Crown Street, offers a fusion-style menu, an eclectic and upscale atmosphere, and an inventive style of dining known as “mini-meals.”
At Nikkita, diners will be able to sample a mixture of Italian, Asian, and seafood fare, including sushi. While Nikkita is not the first fusion restaurant in the area, it offers a new dining trend from the West Coast. With “mini-meals,” diners can sample a wider variety of foods by ordering several appetizer-sized dishes instead of one large meal, or perhaps by sharing entrees among a group.
“Our food is basically an assembly of traditional and exotic dishes to be shared among friends,” Valletta said.
While the restaurant is targeted toward an older, postcollegiate and graduate student clientele, the menu’s prices range from $6 to $13 for an entree, and Valletta said these prices should not deter the younger set of Yalies. The restaurant has a liquor license and will be holding happy hours, although no special “college nights” are planned.
At least as intriguing as the menu is the atmosphere of Nikkita. Guests dine among walls covered with mirrors, glass, mosaic tiles and original abstract Brazilian art. All kinds of unusual atmospheric light fixtures dangle from the ceiling. One part of the restaurant looks like a chic diner, with black and white tiled floors and retro high tables and stools, while another area has a faux veranda and brick walls. The sunken back part of the restaurant can be used for larger parties upon request.
Valletta said he also plans to use the space as a dance floor on weekend nights, with DJs and live bands, although the restaurant’s main focus will be on food. Nikkita will screen movies on three plasma screens at various times, and women tired of Monday night football can come for “Sex and the City” nights. Music at the restaurant will include a mixture of Latin American and European tunes, with an occasional bit of disco.
“We want it to be known for its food and ambience, a place where people can eat and relax and not spend a ton of money,” Valletta said.
Other local restaurant owners expressed little concern about competition in the area.
“It’s a totally different forte; they’re going to be more of a martini bar — and we’re more of a dance club,” a manager at Alchemy said.
BAR manager Danielle Ginnetti agreed.
“The more the merrier,” she said.
Nikkita will not have any special events to mark its opening on Monday, although in about three weeks Valletta plans to host a fund-raiser for his friend’s grandson, who is battling leukemia.
The restaurant will be serving until 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 1 a.m. on Thursdays, and 2 a.m. on weekends.
Valletta’s other restaurants include Maxwell’s in Orange and Pasta Fair in Branford.