Call it the curse of the Ivy Cottage. Ever since Joe Lester closed his 14-year-old Williston Park restaurant, the property has been a revolving door of troubled eateries. The latest victim: Taverna 38, the modest Greek that opened in May 2016.
If the address has been a curse for restaurateurs, it’s been a boon to contractors and interior decorators, as each establishment tried to erase the memory of its predecessor.
With its trellises and chintz, Ivy Cottage was aggressively cute. When Kevin Madison took over the space in 2012, he used weathered wood and shades of gray to make Madison’s on Hillside a handsome, contemporary bistro. It lasted about six months.
In November 2015, John Alexopoulos and Claudio Peralta opened Xarello, an ambitious pan-Mediterranean restaurant whose enigmatic (and unpronounceable) name referred to the Spanish grape used to make the sparkling wine cava. I was surprised that the new owners ditched Madison’s cool decor in favor of a decidedly old-fashioned scheme featuring heavy gold drapes and red banquettes.
Xarello never found its footing and in May 2016, Alexopoulos and Peralta transformed it into the lower-priced Greek Taverna 38, jettisoning the fancy furnishings and replacing them with the inevitable white and blue that frame virtually every Hellenic establishment.
Now the space on Hillside Avenue across from Nassau Boulevard is empty once again.