This new Raleigh restaurant from a Durham restaurateur offers a garden-party feel with a global menu
by Catherine Currin | photography by Shannon Kelly
Walk up to the former Bruegger’s Bagels in the Park District of North Hills, and you’ll be shocked at how it’s changed. Giorgios Bakatsias has transformed the space into Rosewater Kitchen & Bar, his debut restaurant in Raleigh. Bakatsias has over 3o years of experience in the restaurant industry, with a diverse portfolio like Vin Rouge in Durham and Gatehouse Tavern in Wake Forest. Bakatsias says he has a particular emotional connection this his newest venture. “Rosewater for me is the continuity of bringing to the community balance, flavor and a harmonious environment that celebrates the garden,” he says.
Before you can read the menu, you’ll enter a refuge from the hustle and bustle–a relaxing space with floor-to-ceiling windows, an array of florals and greenery, plus mismatched prints framed and hung in unison on the interior walls.
The menu is a harmonious combination of flavors from around the world and right here in Raleigh—like a homemade burrata with heirloom tomatoes, local breads (right now it’s Andrew Ullom’s Union Special Bread), grilled octopus with salsa verde and gremolata. You can also order a variety of rotisserie meats: lamb with chimichurri or porchetta with fennel and orange. Bakatsias says this lets the meat stand alone and speak for itself—you can pair it with delicious side options, of course. The extensive wine list consists of exclusively American wines—a rosé from New Mexico or a Cabernet from California. There’s rotating local beers, and fitting cocktails like the ‘Bouquet,’ a mix of gin, rosemary, lemon and sparkling wine.
Bakatsias has recruited executive chef Bryan Keller to complete his vision—Keller comes straight from Tulum, where he was the executive chef at Zamas Hotel and Que Fresco Restaurant. Keller says with his Italian roots, he’ll bring some family recipes to Rosewater, like his Nona’s Ricotta Gnudi. “I strive to bring old world roots and traditional flavors with a forward looking twist all while allowing the bounty of ingredients from the North Carolina farmers and producers to take center stage.”