Inspired by the home country of Baru's wife, the originators of the wildly popular Italianesque joint have decided to cross borders into Mexican territory with their new restaurant next door, Isalita.
Named, with a bit of spelling acrobatics, after Baru's daughter, Isalita has been, since its opening in late December, as jammed as Mani. Although thirty-somethings crowd the bar and tables, I've also spotted families and the discreetly graying. Whatever their age, Isalita patrons need a fat bankroll. Prices aren't cheap, but the stylish decor, expensive ingredients, and well-stocked bar explain why they aren't. At heart, the restaurant is a heightened, artful interpretation of a Mexican taqueria, gussied up in party dress, yet still casual and lively.
The artfulness starts at the bar, where premium tequilas and mezcales, offered singly and in flights, join wine, Mexican and craft beers, and an array of house cocktails. Except for the margaritas, particularly the zesty blood-orange one, we found most of these too sweet or too heavy-handed with flavorings; subtle balance is clearly not a goal. The aguas frescas, though, are wonderfully flavorful and refreshing, and you can always add a shot of tequila or vodka to one of those.