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Joseph Manzare’s Hecho Readies to Open

It’s been years in the works, but chef Joseph Manzare (Globe, Zuppa, Tres Agaves) is finally weeks away from the opening of Hecho, his Japanese restaurant and tequila bar.

I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Tokyo with Joseph a couple years back and I’ve never seen a guy from the Bronx (and Joseph is indeed that guy) with such an undying passion for something about as far away from his Italian-American roots you can fathom. Put it this way: Joseph is a big, brawny guy prone to bear hugs, growling, back slaps and wearing camouflage. The Japanese are petite, reserved and have physical space issues. When we were out one night for sushi, one shy business man leaned over to ask Joseph is he was Bruce Willis.

Joseph knows Tokyo well by now. He’s been many times. And everywhere along the way, he pointed out things that he was going to bring to Hecho—walls swimming with paintings of tuna that we saw at a little fishmonger shop outside the Tsukiji fish market, and a sushi bar made of thick, soft blonde wood (which was actually unfinished and sanded down after service every night). We ate at every kind of Japanese restaurant, on the hour—from ramen in the rain at an outdoor stall to endless skewers of kushiage—until time drifted away from me and suddenly it was 4 am and I was eating a bowl of curry noodles with tonkatsu bigger than my head, and Joseph had convinced me that it wasn’t even yet midnight.

The tequila element of Hecho clearly isn’t something from Tokyo (though we did visit a tequila bar along the way, which is a funny thing when you’re in Tokyo). This comes from Joseph’s similar affinity for Mexico (see Tres Agaves). In fact, Joseph arrived in Japan with a suitcase full of tequila to try with the sushi we ate. I won’t go into details about the fact that one of the bottles broke all over his clothes and how, well, he just wore them anyway. But now you know.

The point is here, I personally can’t wait to see Hecho open its doors. I think it might be the first restaurant on the cusp of Union Square, right by the 7x7 offices, to open that I’ve ever been excited about, especially because Hecho, like Globe, will be open late. The former Midi space has been truly transformed into Joseph’s vision, designed by Uli Zinnkann of Zack-deVito. The tuna are there (now custom-made into wallpaper). There will be over 80 tequilas, and 140 seats, including a street level sushi bar with, yes, a version of that thick blonde wood (this time, though it’s locally sourced from Evan Shively of Marshall). It won’t be sanded down every night, but the essence of it is the same.

More details to come when they’re ready to release all the information, but I can tell you that I had an excellent taste of some of the sushi to come. Quality. Joseph is no slouch when it comes to his respect for the fish. For those not into sushi, there will be a robata grill and for those not ready for the tequila, a nice selection of seasonal sakes.

Hecho, 185 Sutter St.