The team behind the popular upscale Indian restaurant Rooh, which has locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and New Delhi, is expanding once again, and their restaurant Alora has an experienced chef on board with plenty of experience in Italian and Spanish cuisine.
Alora was first teased last spring, when Rooh owners Anu and Vikram Bhambri told the Chronicle of their plan to take over the former Plant Organic location at Pier 3 on the Embarcadero.
Now the restaurant is set to open Thursday, January 25, with a menu that spans the Mediterranean and includes the foods of Spain, Morocco, and Turkey.
The executive chef behind the menu is Ryan McIlwraith, who's been on board with the project since last year. McIlwraith had been the executive chef at Bellota — the well received six-year-old Spanish restaurant in the Airbnb building in SoMa (888 Brannan). And prior to that he was the chef at Barcino, the Absinthe Group's other Spanish restaurant in Hayes Valley that closed several years back.
McIlwraith also has Spanish and Italian cuisine on his resume working under the late Michael Chiarello at his restaurants Coqueta in SF and Bottega in Yountville.
As Eater reports, the menu includes several items that reflect this pan-Mediterranean focus, like a carrot fattoush salad — featuring farro, arugula, slivers of blood orange, pomegranate seeds, and pita chips — and a "100-layer" 'nduja lasagna.
There's also a steak shish kebab served with hummus, as well as a classic Turkish Adana kebab, with a mix of beef and lamb, and a side of za’atar flatbread.
McIlwraith is also putting his spin on a classic plate of dips and pita, featuring muhammara (red pepper-walnut dip), baba ganoush, and an espelette pepper-miso dip.
The menu still mostly focuses on Europe, and Vikram Bhambri tells Eater that the more North African dishes are to come. "This is the first take on the menu," Bhambri says.
There is a full bar at Alora, and the cocktail program comes from Katya Skye of Dacha Kitchen and Bar, who served as consultant. The drinks include an Italian spin on a Manhattan called the Casa della Nonna (Grandmother's House), with rye, sweet vermouth, and blackberry balsamic reduction; and there's a Turkish Tea Delight featuring Turkish tea, vodka, and lemon.
The former Plant Organic space has been transformed into a handsome, curtained dining room at the hands of Anu Bhambri, with the help of Manu Studio.
Initial dinner hours will be 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Alora will ultimately be open for lunch as well, but that may be a few weeks away.
Alora - Pier 3, on The Embarcadero - Opening Thursday, January 25