New Waterloo announced Erind Halilaj, formerly of Obicà Mozzarella Bar, as the executive chef of Il Brutto, the group’s neighborhood Italian restaurant, bar and sandwich shop opening in East Austin later this summer.
Born in Albania and raised in Italy, Halilaj pursued a culinary career after receiving a degree in economics and tourism services management. In Milan, he held prominent positions at various 5-star luxury hotels, including chef de partie at Hotel Principe di Savoia, sous chef at AC Hotel Marriott Milano, and chef tournant at Excelsior Hotel Gallia. Halilaj worked at several other hotels and restaurants in Italy, including as executive chef of private club Canottieri Restaurant, before an opportunity with JW Marriott brought him to Florida in 2014.
After making the move to New York City that same year, Halilaj was named executive chef of Obicà Mozzarella Bar, then promoted to its corporate chef within his first year. There, he was charged with concepting menus, overseeing multiple kitchens, developing training programs, and opening Obicà locations worldwide. He joined New Waterloo as Executive Chef of Il Brutto and its counterpart, a 1,600-sq-ft sandwich shop, in spring 2017.
“Italian cuisine is rooted in simplicity: straightforward ingredients of the highest quality used in precise ways,” says New Waterloo Partner Delfo Trombetta. “Having grown up in Italy, Erind has a deep-rooted passion for the ingredients and techniques at the core of all Italian cuisine. We are lucky to have him join the Il Brutto team.”
Located in East Austin, Il Brutto will offer lunch, brunch and dinner in a 5,000-square-foot restaurant that features a large, open kitchen, a separate bar and lounge, a private dining room, and shaded patio seating surrounding a live oak tree. Helmed by Halilaj, Il Brutto will offer a menu of simple, well-executed Italian classics, including fresh antipasti, daily housemade pastas, and pizzas baked in the restaurant’s Neapolitan wood-burning oven.
“There’s always a story behind an Italian dish,” says Halilaj. “A meal is not just about the food, but about the whole experience. Il Brutto will be a high-quality Italian restaurant that’s casual, convivial and warm—just like East Austin.”
Il Brutto and the yet-to-be-named sandwich shop are slated to open in East Austin late summer 2017. They are the latest additions to New Waterloo’s diverse culinary portfolio, which includes La Condesa, Sway, Hotel Ella, South Congress Hotel and Pao.
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