The latest offering of Rochester developer Thomas Masaschi is a European-style restaurant on East Avenue featuring Belgian beers and a sunken patio outdoors.
The Victoire Belgium Beer Bar opened with a limited menu June 22, in time for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. A full menu is set to be in place after July 4th.
"It's something that was missing down here," Masaschi said of the concept. "It's more for a sophisticated crowd. It's something different for an older crowd. It's not a young 20s. It's more of a 26 to 55."
Masaschi decided on the Belgian theme after seeing such restaurants in New York City. Victoire is patterned after the Belgian Beer Café chain, founded in 1998 in Belgium.
"One of my inspirations was looking at what they were doing, and their concept," Masaschi said.
Belgian Beer Cafe offers an extensive selection of Belgian beer and cuisine in a classic Brussels-style brasserie, company officials said last fall in announcing plans for 60 U.S. locations over the next four years.
Victoire is located in space formerly occupied by Alexandria's Mediterranean Cuisine in the Rochester Club, near the East End garage. The bar is just inside the front door, with dining available in three areas.
"I didn't want just a bar," Masaschi said. "I wanted a combination. The name is deceiving, but it's not just a bar. There's a full menu."
Outdoor seating is available on the east side of the building, in a patio below street level.
"It's one of the only outdoor patios in the city that's private like that," he said. "You don't have to be on the sidewalk.
"Outdoor seating is very popular right now. We have a lot of community tables. It's very European."
Masaschi owns the Rochester Club. He and partner Jeffrey Reddish own and lease East End space at the Valley Cadillac Building, the Hiram Sibley Building and a building at East Avenue and Alexander Street.
Masaschi also is managing partner of DHD Ventures LLC, which wants to turn three vacant buildings on East Main Street between Stone Street and South Avenue into a $15 million Hilton Garden Inn next to the Hyatt Regency Rochester.
The hotel project remains on track for a 2013 opening, he said.
Masaschi has received plenty of compliments about Victoire, he said last week as the jazz festival wound down.
"The food has been getting great reviews," Masaschi said. "It's very European, Belgian and French style. Ryan Dalton, our chef, has done a great job."
Mussels and frites-Belgian fries similar to french fries-are among the most popular items, he said.
The bar has 24 taps, with 55 bottled brands also available. Wine and liquor also are served.
"It's not all Belgian beer," Masaschi said. "It's mainly Belgian, but there are other European beers. We blend it in."
There are no American beers.
"If you want a Miller Lite, our staff will tell you what we have that's comparable," Masaschi said.
Nicholas Galante is responsible for coordinating the beer selection. Masaschi calls Galante his consulting general manager.
"This is kind of like a European, Belgian-style pub because it has all kinds of little rooms and a low ceiling," Galante said.
He researched Belgian beers, online and in print, particularly from the late English author and journalist Michael Jackson, who wrote several books about beer and whisky.
"He's the one who started pairing beer with food," Galante said.
Restocking and rotating the beers requires planning, Galante said.
"They're so hard to get, and they're very expensive," he said. "You can't just go down to the store and get it like you would Budweiser.
"One of our distributors has the ability to get beer from all over the world, but it takes three weeks. I have to think way ahead on what I'm going to put on this line or that line."
Victoire is open seven days a week.
"The sales have been good, but we're more impressed with the comments we're getting," Masaschi said. "People feel the difference. They feel it's something different."
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