Pizzology chef plans new downtown concept

May 2, 2011
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The LibertineThe popular local chef behind Carmel's Pizzology is outfitting the former home of Nia's Deli at 38 E. Washington St. for a new restaurant called The Libertine. Neal Brown says his new spot will serve "modern American tavern food", along with Prohibition-era cocktails, craft beer and wine. Menu offerings—including octopus terrine, pork rilettes, a porchetta sandwich, seared foie gras, and roasted beets—will be prepared in an exhibition kitchen at the end of a 25-person custom-designed bar.

Brown plans to bring in a couple of designers to look at the space, but he doesn't expect wholesale changes to the façade or the interior. He is leasing the entire building in a three-year deal with 25 years of options, but he was coy about plans for the second floor, which is accessible from a second front door (a speakeasy perhaps?). Drink offerings include: the Boot Strap, with W.H. Harrison Bourbon, amaro and sweet vermouth; the Dirty Little Whirlwind, with absinthe, Contreau, lemon bitters and orange oils; and Pimm's Cup, with Pimm's No. 1 liqueur, Cointreau, lime, mint and ginger ale.

Brown said he does not have a target opening date. He's optimistic about moving quickly, though, since many of his planned updates to the space will not require government permits. "I really have a lot of faith in that corridor of Washington Street," he said. "The upside is unignorable."

(Photo: Google Streetview)

  • So, You Invented the First Retro Tavern?
    Jack, a tavern that sells retro cocktails is a restaurant concept that one can see on display not only in several venues in Indianapolis, but also all over the U.S., especially in large urban areas.

    There is no property right in ideas, aside from certain patentable concepts, and a tavern serving retro drinks does not meet the legal standard of pantentability (not by a mile). So, I am not sure where all this "thief" BS is coming from, but it not only makes you look bitter, but also stupid.
    • More worried about investors...
      How many of Neal's restaurants have gone belly up? And while I give him credit for trying a unique concept in the area with Pizzology - the service there is lackluster at best. When Martha Hoover opens Napolese at Carmel City Center sometime soon Pizzalogy will have a much tougher time surviving....so on to yet another new project investors beware!
      • Oye Vey - bunch of haters!
        Good grief. I didn't realize this city was full of a bunch of haters. I applaud Neal and his vision AND willingness to get out there on a limb where others don't. I wish him success and look forward to dining at this establishment. Now if we could just get him to Fountain Square . . . :)
      • Indy should be thankful..
        I'm with Sandra on this one. Indy should be thankful that there's a chef who's actually willing to challenge clientele instead of just spoon feeding Hoosiers the same corn and Sunday lasagna casserole they've been eating for decades.

        And Jack? It must also be nice spending YOUR entire career being passive aggressive on website comment sections. x)
      • No more Nia's
        Sounds like a promising idea. I had no idea that Nia's Deli had folded, but I guess it's no surprise. It was little more than a convenience store that served sandwiches (virtually no other sides), and any purported Deli that makes the customer pay extra for a dill pickle spear is in for a bumpy ride. Best wishes to Mr. Brown.
      • And
        What is with people rooting against Neal? If you don't like what he does, we've got 4 Cracker Barrels, 51 McDonalds and a Cheesecake Facory for you. You won't starve.
      • LOVE IT
        I can't wait to get back to Indy for this one. Congrats Neal! Food and drinks sound spectacular. Indy should be so lucky to have a place like this. These people Jack and John are nuts and should go eat at Cracker Barrel, or just continue to pout about all the things they didn't do in their life. If they drive you nuts though, New York welcomes you with open arms. Love the name Libertine too.
      • Original Dining in Downtown
        If there is one thing our downtown is starved for it is original, chef-run restaurants. I applaud Neal for setting his sites on the core of the city and, especially, an area of Washington Street that badly needs investment. With Hue a few doors down, this is another huge step in turning around this choice strip of one our primary thoroughfares. Best of luck Mr. Brown!
      • Pizza
        I have been to both Napolese and Pizzology, one visit for each restaurant. Food and service at both were excellent. The difference: About $15.00 if not more. I can't afford Napolese on any sort of regular basis. It was a one time treat not too long after the store opened. Pizzology was just as good, but a much more affordable price for frugal folks like me.
      • Don Shanley
        What is with the haters? Neal has a winner in Pizzology for sure as told by the lines I wait in all the time. Food is MUCH better than Napolese and far more reasonable. Neal is very creative and lest we not forget the great wife he has that in her own right is a Wine Sommelier and has taught me a lot about wines. I find the service impeccable so who ever is "hating" out there is either jealous or is wanting a competitor to shine. I am a food fan, not an investor, nor have any interest to be. I just enjoy great food and feel his creativity will succeed where he goes. And for those that talk about a shut down of previous endeavors? Like they have never failed? Remember... "A SETBACK IS A SETUP FOR A COMEBACK". Neal has come back with great success just like Walt Disney and Harlan Sanders each did!
      • Sounds great
        It will be good to have some more creative offerings in this area. I hope it does well as this stretch tends to have high turnover. I think it will. I will definitely be there!
      • Bad Service
        The food at Neal's restaurant's is always good, but the serivce has always been terrible. The lunch service at L'Explorateur was especially bad. Hopefully this is improved at his new place.
      • Bravo
        Kudos to Neal and best of luck. I hope it is very successful. Having been to both Napolese and Pizzology my vote goes to Pizzology. Far more creative, better tasting pizza and a more diverse menu rules despite the drive from the Napolese neighborhood. Congrats for having the guts Neal in a town unfortunately that has the reputation for being boring when it comes to food!!!
      • So = less wait time
        Less of a wait time then for us non-haters.
      • Over/Under?
        What's the over/under on how soon this place will close?
      • Excellent
        Good for him! I hope the new venture does well. I wish he would bring a Pizzology downtown. I've only eaten there once because its too far from my Fall Creek Place home. I avoid Carmel like the plague. If there was one closer I'd be there all the time! Way better than Napolese. I've been to Italy 5 times and his pizza is the most authentic in town.
      • Super Bowl
        Expect to see more start-ups like this one as the Super Bowl approaches. They'll cash in big the month leading up to the game. The test will be, how will they do when the crowds leave.
      • Zing Gone
        Chris, what is the story behind the closing of Zing on Indiana Avenue?
        • Why is it being a hater when....
          FACT - neal has lost A LOT of money for A LOT of his investors in his failed restaurants.

          FACT - Service at Pizzalogy is miserable.

          I admire non chain, chef driven restaurants but despise a sense of entitlement merely because they are not a chain. Is it too much to ask for a local chef to be a good business man as well? Is it too much to ask for caring staff and a well timed kitchen?

        • Amen
          Amen Todd, Amen!
        • K
          I'm pretty darn sure only one of his restaurants have gone belly up, and that was because of location. The food was great, but the location was hard to get to and hard to find parking.

          If it would have been right off the strip or somewhere where the parking was not a problem, I'm pretty sure it would have worked out for him.
        • Excited
          Neal is in the group of one of the best chefs in the area. The new location will be great I am sure. I will assume that John also thought little of Michael Jordon given the number of shots that he missed in his career!
        • Laughing
          Neals restaurants have been whole heartedly panned by the general public. The exception is the "local foodies" who are not only friends of mr Brown, but often his investors as well. They have a stake in his success.

          The truth is that the food is good, but it's not special. Its not changing the Indy area let alone the world. Once you get past the "different just to be different" ambiance of the menu, it's actually quite unsatisfying.

          That air of pretentiousness is what has made what little success Neal Brown has had a newsworthy event.

          While his passion for food is admirable, his lackluster output combined with the "back patting" of his friends has made his end product effort laughable at this point, and I fear yet another failed Neal Brown Hospitality venture in Libertine.
        • Best of Luck
          I am looking forward to it! I am sure all the comments here will be used to make Libertine a better establishment. It's good that Neal Brown is out there trying to create successful enterprises and that so many people are willing to provide honest feedback to help.

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        1. This is still my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. What I do love about the new version is it is much quieter than the most recent version. TV's were off, the music wasn't too loud, and the wait staff were not hyperactive like they had been the past few times I had been there. I just wish they would bring back the MOLE for the enchiladas!

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