Local chef Dominic Colose has been working his culinary magic in the Saratoga area for more than two decades, and one thing he never gets tired of is chatting up customers and making them laugh. “I like funny restaurant stories and jokes, and I like telling them to people,” says Colose. “My dream is to create a very interactive dining experience where, hopefully, I’ll be amusing people, too.”
That’s the principle behind Amuse, Colose’s first standalone restaurant in nearly 20 years, which will be opening in Downtown Saratoga this October. The restaurant, which will serve mostly Mediterranean cuisine, will share the location at 420 Broadway—right behind Kilwins and connected to Northshire Bookstore—with Saratoga’s Broadway Deli, which will stay open for breakfast and lunch, while Amuse takes over the dinner shift. Colose’s new spot will specialize in Spanish, Moroccan and Turkish coastal cuisines, with nods to Italian and French food peppered in. “I really want to introduce the Mediterranean foods you don’t see as often in Saratoga,” says Colose. He’ll also be serving beer and wine.
One of the restaurant’s specialties will be the tagine, a spicy, sauce-rich, Moroccan dish traditionally cooked in an earthenware pot of the same name. “I bought some authentic stoneware tagines,” Colose says. “I have a very good friend who’s Turkish, so I’m inspired by a lot of what I’ve had in his home.” For Mediterranean food purists, Colose notes that diners should expect some nontraditional ingredients in his Mediterranean staples. “It’s really more about the flavors of the Mediterranean than it is about classic dishes of that area,” says the 55-year-old chef. “I don’t want to do traditional; I want to incorporate the flavors of that region but be more creative with the actual recipes.”
Also central to Amuse’s offerings will be an intimate yet interactive atmosphere. In fact, when the restaurant first opens, Colose plans to set up just a ten-seat chef’s counter, where he can entertain and converse with customers all while plating and preparing their food right on the other side of the counter. After the first few weeks, Colose will expand Amuse to the full dining room, while keeping his intimate chef’s counter open, and even add patio seating during the warmer months (including the outdoor seating, Colose says there will be room for about 40 people). There are also plans for live music, potentially jazz, and other events in the near future.
When it opens in late October, Amuse will operate Wednesday through Saturday 5-9:30pm while Saratoga’s Jewish Deli keeps its regular hours of 8am to 5pm. About the unique arrangement with the local deli, Colose says it was the perfect setup to realize his dream but keep a low overhead. “Generally, I’d say that opening a restaurant and running it is an awful lot of work,” says Colose, who used to work with the owner of Saratoga’s Broadway Deli, Daniel Chessare, at The Wine Bar. “[Amuse is] going to be so small and sweet and simple that it’ll be a lot easier than working for someone else.”