Former Salazar Restaurant Transforming into New Concept

Posted on March 19, 2024 by aatkinson

Jose Salazar Announces Plans for Moroccan-Inspired Wine Bar

CINCINNATI (March 19, 2024) – After 10 years in operation as the Chef/Owner of his eponymous restaurant, Jose Salazar has announced plans to reconfigure the iconic Republic Street space into Safi – a Moroccan-inspired wine bar. Located at 1401 Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), the 1,200-square-foot space will undergo a total transformation before opening to the public this summer.

The idea for the new concept came after Salazar and his wife traveled to Morocco in the summer of 2023 and returned with a desire to bring back to the Queen City some of what they had experienced. Safi, a Moroccan name from the Arabic language meaning ‘enough,’ felt simple and beautiful – and it allowed the couple to pay homage to Salazar by retaining its first two letters.

“We’re excited to be part of the resurgence of restaurants in the area,” Salazar said. “Both the community and the phenomenal location of this space will certainly help make this new concept a success. It’s right across the street from Washington Park and Music Hall making it a great place to stop before or after a show or other event on this side of town. Fortunately, we know what to expect having spent ten years here with Salazar. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be bringing a new concept to life in the same space.”

According to Salazar, Safi will have a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. The menu will include some ‘fancier’ options but remain very approachable. It will be the type of place you can pop in for a nightcap, a quick glass of wine, or even a full meal. The wine list will be heavily focused on Mediterranean wines, featuring bottles from Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Lebanon, Morocco and more. Cocktails and beer will also be available, in addition to a range of small plates.

Perhaps one of the most unique items on Safi’s menu will be a caviar ‘bump’ – a trendy new way to eat caviar in which a dollop of sturgeon roe is eaten all at once off the back of the hand. At Safi, caviar bumps will be served on a mother of pearl spoon with a half glass of champagne. The menu will also feature a variety of other unique items like chicken pastilla ‘cigars,’ slow-cooked lamb shank tagine with semolina Moroccan-style couscous made from scratch in-house, Zalouk (eggplant and tomato compote), Briwat (Moroccan almond pastry) and more.

“Over-the-Rhine is known for its wide range of restaurants and cultural cuisines – and Safi broadens that range even more,” said Lindzie Gunnels, Director of Commercial Leasing with 3CDC. “Jose brought this space to life with Salazar and we can’t wait to see how he reimagines this corner with Safi.”

Salazar is working with INDIO on the design of the space, with Trade 31 managing construction. Upon completion, the transformed space will have a sophisticated Moroccan look and a timeless feel with dark, moody vibes and terra cotta accents. The iconic Salazar restaurant mosaic tile flooring has been removed and the former bar top is being repurposed into tabletops for Safi.

The new restaurant will be open Wednesday through Friday in the evening only, and from 12 PM into the evening on Saturday and Sunday. Grand Opening plans will be announced as the build-out nears completion this summer.

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