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Major Food Group

Sean MacPherson sees a parallel between one of New York’s hottest restaurant groups and The Beastie Boys, reports Jeff Gordinier in The New York Times (3/19/14). Sean’s Ludlow Hotel will "showcase Dirty French," one of the newest of a series of eateries via restaurateurs Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick and Rich Torrisi — also known as Major Food Group. Like the Beastie Boys, suggests Sean, Major Food Group seeks to "merge art, style and commerce without sacrificing street cred."

Both the Beasties and the Foodies are "conceptualists" who "have used rapping or cooking as a way to express something about how it feels to be in New York." The trio’s initial foray happened in 2009, with a deli, Torrisi Italian Specialties. As that evolved, they opened Parm, "where they gave old-school meatball heroes and ice cream cake a stylish re-vamp." Last year came Carbone, where "the massive platters of food and the animated tableside patter seemed like a new form of downtown street theater." Their latest is ZZ’s Clam Bar, in Greenwich Village.

Plans are to expand Parm "into a citywide Shake Shack-style franchise," with an apparent goal of "metropolitan domination." Some wonder whether the trio has lost its common touch along the way — at Carbone the Veal Parmesan goes for $54, for instance. Others question whether the food will suffer as the chefs become managers — and if their expansion will snuff out the very grit they initially embraced. Not so, says Mario: "Leave it alone and it’s going to go away," he says. "You’re not going to have the Colosseum to look at if somebody doesn’t fix it."