A Flushing native with popular restaurants on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the Hamptons will open his new venture in the Rockaways next week. James Mallios, 46, will open Bar Marseille at 190 Beach 69th St. in Arverne on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The restaurant occupies both ground level and rooftop spaces of The Tides at Arverne by the Sea, a luxury beachfront apartment complex, and offers picturesque ocean views of the nearby shores. Bar Marseille —borrowing its name from the famed port city of Marseille in southern France — celebrates the eclectic collection of flavors that is found along the French Riviera with cultural influences of North Africa, Italy, Greece and Spain.
“We’re giving it a couple of dry runs with soft openings for friends and family this week and I’m very excited to be coming back to Queens,” Mallios said. “I used to deliver for a florist company in southern Queens so I became familiar with Russo’s on the Bay and all of the neighborhoods down there. I always wanted to be in the Rockaways with its interesting mix of ethnicities, and I’m really excited about being a part of that community.”
Mallios graduated from Fordham Law School in 1999 and after more than a decade in practice, he left his law career to pursue a path in the hospitality industry. In November of 2011, Mallios and some partners from his law firm opened Amali, a Mediterranean restaurant on the Upper East Side. More recently, he opened Calissa, a Greek restaurant in Water Mill.
“Bar Marseilles will be a bit of a departure, more of a Provençal-inspired restaurant with more of a French bistro or brasserie feel to it,” Mallios said. “Like the other restaurants, it will be seafood-based and northern French cuisine, accessible French concepts. Marseilles is a real working-class town. It has a beautiful rooftop dining area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean so it has that Marseille feel.”
To start, diners can expect raw bar items such as oysters with sparkling rose mignonette; a seasonal charcuterie board with chicken liver mousse, salmon rillette and saucisson sec; smoked trout salad with lardons, potato crisp, frisee and Meyer lemon aioli; moules frites with fennel, white wine and pastis; and beef tartare with long hot peppers, capers, cornichons and endive. The menu is rounded out with entrees including fish en papillote with steelhead trout, miso butter and asparagus; chicken Provençal with turnips artichokes, white wine, thyme and orange; and grilled pork chop with warm lentil salad, butternut squash and sage. Not to be missed are the bistro classics like onion soup with Jersey Girl Farmstead Cheese and croutons and a show-stopping bouillabaisse with cod, shrimp, mussels, fennel, saffron rouille and toasts. There’s also the Marseille tuna burger with red peppers, watercress, tarragon, aioli, brioche bun and arugula salad, as well as a steak frites with caper aioli, red wine butter and the guest’s choice of cut.
Opening a new venture in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic does pose a challenge.
“I’m like Alfred E. Neumann in Magazine saying, ‘What, me worry?’” Mallios said with a laugh. “Anyone that says they aren’t worried and being cautious is being disingenuous. We have met the challenges on the Upper East Side and in the Hamptons which we were able to open earlier than here in the city. At first, people were trepidatious about going out to eat, but they grew more comfortable in time. I imagine the same will happen with Bar Marseilles, plus the neighborhood is younger and that gives me a reason for optimism.”
Mallios is actually more concerned with the de Blasio administration than the coronavirus.
“Am I worried? Yeah, but I am more concerned with the lack of foresight and definitive guidelines that the restaurant industry is getting from the city. They seem to be making up guidelines as they go along.”
Mallios said once Bar Marseille is up and running, he will begin to hire from the Arverne community.
“We want to bring in folks from the neighborhood because you want to have that authentic feel of the Rockaways,” Mallios said. “Even though I’m from Queens, you don’t want to appear like interlopers and carpetbaggers. The Rockaways are a very tight-knit community, especially the year-round residents. We will be very involved with the community. I can’t wait to get started.”