Adam Leonti, the former chef de cuisine at Vetri in Philadelphia, who came to New York to be the executive chef at Harvey, a restaurant yet to open in the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, has resigned from that project and will become the executive chef at Sessanta, John McDonald’s restaurant in the Sixty SoHo Hotel.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Leonti said he had been waiting two years for Harvey to open. “It did not seem right anymore, so I left,” he said. Mr. McDonald had been looking for a new chef for six months after Jordan Frosolone, Sessanta’s original chef, left. “Adam is very much aligned with my vision, “ Mr. McDonald said.
That vision has changed in the two years since Sessanta opened, originally with Southern Italian and Sicilian food. (Pete Wells gave the restaurant one star in a 2015 review in The New York Times.)
“It’s hard to acknowledge that I was taking the restaurant in the wrong direction, but now I’m ready for a complete reboot,” Mr. McDonald said. “I want a truly New York restaurant with Italian inspiration. Adam said you have to cook for the customers; you can’t tell New Yorkers what to eat.”
Mr. Leonti said his food would “follow the seasons” throughout Italy, taking its cue from the south in summer and the north in fall and winter. He is returning to New York this week, and his menu should begin to emerge next month.