Jack Murphy, Susan Dunn, and Ed Dunn have been working for more than two years to open their neighborhood eatery, Paladar 511. Now it's been open for a week, and aside from some unwarranted online trolling, things are going well, according to Murphy. Inside the gorgeous warehouse space with open kitchen, restaurant staff have been serving up fresh pizza, pasta, and crudo to its neighbors with lots of repeat business already.
Hours: Sunday to Monday and Wednesday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. And Friday to Saturday, from 5 to 11 p.m. (closed Tuesday).
So how are things at one week in?
They're going well, we're trying to be cautious and slow, so we can do everything well. But already, we've gotten a lot of repeat customers. One couple's been in here four times in five days. We've had a lot of time to think about this point— it's two and a half years in the opening, things got pretty brutal for a while with construction issues and that kind of thing. But now, it's been great. We've procured an excellent staff, which makes all the difference.
How has the neighborhood received you?
Well, the ex-president of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association was in here, and he seemed to have a good time. We want to be a neighborhood restaurant, where people here can get an affordable and casual meal. We're really catering toward the people in the building and the neighborhood. Folks from Uptown or tourists, that's great too, but they're kind of like a bonus.
What's been the most popular menu item right out of the gate?
I'd say the tuna crudo. It's a nice way to start a meal, and while it's not intentionally healthy, it's actually good for you. (Laughs.) I think people who have been coming this week have been a little hesitant to order pizza? Not sure exactly why, maybe because it's not, like, worldly cuisine. But once they do, the pizza surprises them. The pastas are selling well. We keep the menu small so we can execute well.
What's your pizza technique/philosophy?
It's really about the stretch. Getting the crust crisp but still chewy— the texture is so important. It has to provide a counterpoint to the toppings. We like a lot of the traditional toppings, but we've got some seasonal ingredients we put together in classic flavor combinations, like lamb and asparagus or mediterranean flavors. And we put those on a pizza, so it's like traditional, but interesting.
What are you most excited to share with your customers?
I'm really excited to share it all. We've been working on this for two and a half years. Our style of cooking is based on getting people excited about the seasons, a more seasonal approach to cooking. Another special thing about our place is that we have a very open style and philosophy that we share with everyone who works here— it's very collaborative. The servers have done some cooking, everyone's worked on the menu, it's a very community-focused, dinner party type of approach. Everyone—not the managers of course, but front of house and back of house—shares in the tip pool. It's a really healthy way to work, I think.
We want to share our food and hospitality, that's what it's all about. All right, I'm going to get off my soapbox now.