By: Stefanie Gans
Mike Cordero likes to keep things fresh, which is apparent when you look at today’s debut of A-Town‘s new menu, or for the new restaurant offerings he has planned in Arlington.
The owner of Primetime Sports Bar and Grill in Fairfax, Bronx Pizza in Arlington and Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, Cordero plans to turn A-Town into a dining destination with what he calls “American fusion comfort food.” That means a mash-up of global cuisines, making A-town “not just about getting a beer,” says Cordero.
His new dishes include chicken fried bacon served with sausage country gravy, which he dubs, “kind of a heart attack on a plate” and Asian dumplings with the Cajun flavors of andouille sausage with Creole seasoning. The menu also includes flatbreads, burgers (with a pretzel bun option) and a raw bar.
But this menu change is the least of Cordero’s news. The 54-year-old, who’s owned more than 50 restaurants since the late 1970s, is planning another four.
Under lease negotiations—but still hopeful for a June opening—Caminos Cantina will be, says Cordero, “a funky, modern, lounge-y taco place” in the Virginia Square building, just two blocks from A-Town. The menu will feature a surf and turf taco—”that no one has created,” says Cordero— with lobster and steak. There will also be a braised short rib taco with caramelized onions and creamy jus, with at least 15 different tacos total. Cordero will use an in-house tortilla maker to crank out both masa flour and whole wheat tortillas. Enchiladas, quesadillas and empanadas, with vegetarian and vegan options, will also be available.
For the redeveloping Ballston Common Mall—soon to be known as the Ballston Center—Cordero, a Puerto Rican-Italian raised in the Bronx, is in negotiations to open second location of Bronx Pizza as well as a new steakhouse, Sizzle Craft. Both are still under lease negotiations and are planned for 2016 openings. He sees Sizzle as “trying to compete a little more with the upscale side” of steakhouses; Cordero gives Ruth’s Chris Steak House as an example.
He is also looking to resurrecting the success of Malibu Grill, a Brazilian-style steakhouse he opened in 1997 in Seven Corners and Fair Lakes. Cordero sold the chain in 2001, but wants to revisit the concept, albeit with a new name, and is on the search for spaces in Arlington. As for what’s next, “I don’t want any more to go on.”