It’s no secret that ZAVŌ is the restaurant and lounge space everyone is talking about. Heads turned when the large Mediterranean restaurant confidently signed a 15-year lease at 1011 Third Avenue between East 59th and 60th streets to Olshan Properties. The property was formerly home to a short-lived steak chain, Texas de Brazil. The ZAVŌ team led by owner, Ilya Zavolunov, certainly pulled off the daunting task of creating a restaurant and lounge space people cannot get enough of. Only a few months into business, ZAVŌ has already been ranked ‘Best Mediterranean’ in Manhattan and the Tri-State area on Opentable.
The first floor of the property is an exquisite Mediterranean restaurant, serving up beautifully plated dishes fresh from the sea. The upstairs transforms into an upscale lounge, well-known for festive choreographed performances. On Saturdays, the space evolves into a Venetian party with an extravagant show called, ‘City of Masks’. Be a spectator or put your dance shoes on for tango dancing on Argentinian Thursdays and 1,001 Arabian Nights on Fridays.
Meet Chef Sunil Sharma, the man behind the menu and kitchen operations. Chef Sunil was brought onto the ZAVŌ team as a consultant to help get things up and running. But, he soon found himself parting his Executive Sous-Chef position at the Capital Grill to become part of the ZAVŌ family.
Sharma works primarily with seafood, specifically shellfish, where he brings all ingredients together into colorful and decadent dishes. Chef Sunil enjoys preparing food traditionally, but presenting the dishes with a modern-style plating. When designing the ZAVŌ menu, Sharma emphasized the significance of selecting menu items that are recognizable and pair well.
Chef Sunil Sharma was born in India, brought up in Dubai, and came to Queens, NY, at 17-years-old. Since then, Sharma has gained 13 years restaurant experience. Sunil started off as a dishwasher, received a formal culinary education and worked his way up from line cook to ZAVŌ Executive Chef. With Sharma’s wide-range of experience, he brought a great deal of value when designing the kitchen and implementing the systems used. Chef Sunil values teamwork and respect when running his kitchen. But, he is certainly a stickler for correct labeling, use of fresh locally sourced ingredients and avoiding frozen foods!
Chef Sunil is certainly happy with his new home and opportunities at ZAVŌ. Though, his aspirations include opening a restaurant of his own or running an Indian-style food truck. When Sharma is not in the kitchen, you can find him playing the electric bass or exploring the city for the perfect Napa Valley Cabernet! Sunil’s advice to aspiring chefs: “Stick with it. Making $5.50 an hour as a dishwasher was tough. But, hard work can really pay off!”