Chef Andrew Carmellini & Studio Munge team up
Despite its reputation as being a haven for hipsters, Williamsburg, Brooklyn also serves as the perfect location for the neighborhood’s latest hotel, the William Vale—an elegant and avant-garde fixture situated on the East River. Alessandro Munge, principal of Tor ontobased
Studio Munge, designed the property, including its two new restaurants: the fine dining Leuca and rooft op lounge Westlight, both from chef Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group. For Munge, the challenge was crafting concepts that celebrated Brooklyn’s distinct culture without being derivative. He embraced the neighborhood by rejecting stereotypes—exchanging reclaimed wood and exposed brick for timeless designs.
For the 187-seat Southern Italian restaurant Leuca, balance was key. The space is sentimental but not mawkish, romantic but not intimidating, warm but not overbearing, with a European aesthetic infused throughout (for instance, in shelves featuring authentic Italian Majolica pottery and handpainted ceramic tile columns). Each plot point is executed with precision. Guests enter the white oak-paneled dining room from the breakfast area done in mahogany and amber hues through dramatic Roman arches. “I wanted people to peekaboo into the room and get excited,” Munge explains. To make it “as social as possible,” the U-shape and cozy square leather-upholstered banquettes “allow people to cross-pollinate,” he says.
Located around the perimeter and above brown leather banquettes hang photographer Rich Kubiszewski’s portraits of a precocious little girl—with her oversized aviators, tongue out, and wide-eyed stare. At the center of the room, a raised ceiling painted black creates a cove to emphasize the mobile-like fixtures inspired by Alexander Calder’s artwork. “They dance in the ceiling,” Munge says. Connecting the wood walls and the dark ceiling is a ring of uplit warm solid wood planks; they emanate a gentle glow that produces shadow lines throughout the space. “I want guests to come back and sit in a different place and enjoy it as a new experience,” explains Munge.