Sasa Mahr-Batuz, age 45, has been in the food business for 24 years working in Mediterranean restaurants in Portugal to steak houses in Argentina. Mahr-Batuz is responsible for Barcelona’s original concept, its ongoing innovation, and for the widely distinct designs that make the restaurants such magnets for the style-conscious.
Barcelona Restaurant Group has had great success with its many Barcelona locations, what was the idea behind Bartaco?
The idea behind Bartaco was inspired during a vacation in Brazil. The combination of beach culture, casual street food, great drinks in a stylish environment, was something I wanted to bring to this area.
Port Chester, NY and Stamford, CT each have a Bartaco, how and why were these locations chosen?
A few years ago, my partner Andy Pforzheimer, and I were scouting Port Chester and found a location on the water. At the time, the space wasn’t available and when it did become available, we went for it. It was the perfect time and place to open Bartaco. As for Stamford, there isn’t a concept similar to Bartaco. A space became available next door to our other concept, Barcelona Restaurant & Wine Bar, and once again, the timing was great and we seized the opportunity.
What was the menu strategy behind Bartaco, any similarities from the Barcelona menu since they’ve been so popular?
The menu at Bartaco is simple, delicious and affordable food with great cocktails.
The menu stays true to the concept, offering land and sea taco creations, and runs the gamut from Baja fish and Thai shrimp to spicy chorizo, duck and pork belly. Herbivores can enjoy the Portobello mushroom taco and side dishes include grilled corn with lime, cayenne and cotija cheese and a variety of salads. Going beyond tacos, and taken straight from street vendors in Mexico, are pork and chicken tamales and assorted gorditas. The only similarity between Bartaco and Barcelona is that we offer small plates.
Does Bartaco use the same food distributor as the Barcelona restaurants?
Depending on the product, we use the same food distributor and try to use locally produced vegetables depending on what’s in season and availability.
Any specialty drinks being served up at Bartaco, what was the idea behind the drink menu?
The drinks at Bartaco are meant to be simple, yet very well crafted. We only like to use high quality spirits, fresh squeezed to order juices, the highest quality ice, and great glassware. Essentially, every ingredient in the cocktails are premium. We feature tequila heavily and all of our tequilas are 100% agave but we balance out the selection with fun drinks made with Mezcal, rum, cachaga, bourbon and gin; all unique to one another.
What is the dining atmosphere like at Bartaco and how did you achieve that with the design?
The dining atmosphere is supposed to be an open-air, informal space with style and sensibility. The minimalistic décor is light and breezy, with the air of a contemporary beach resort. Crisp, clean colors of blue and white are accented by wood paneling and furnishings, hanging basket-weave light fixtures and oscillating ceiling fans.