Last year, Craig Richards left his position as vice president of culinary for Ford Fry Restaurants and executive chef at St. Cecilia and joined forces with restaurateur Billy Streck (Hampton & Hudson, Nina & Rafi, Cypress Street Pint & Plate). The duo soon discovered they had more in common than a love of food: their daughters share a name. So it only made sense to express that connection through the name of their new restaurant, Lyla Lila. (Richards’s daughter is Lyla; Streck’s daughter’s middle name is Lila.)
“We had 30 names on the table, but this makes it a lot more personal to us,” Richards says. “The restaurant is an expression of us.”
Located in the lilli Midtown building at the corner of 3rd and Peachtree streets, the food at Lyla Lila is inspired by the cuisines of southern Italy and Spain. It will include house-made pasta and wood-fired meats and seafood, along with Old World wines and seasonal cocktails.
Pasta options will include smoked squash and ricotta caramelle with spiced pumpkin seeds and sumac; and tomato leaf pappardelle with pork and beef cheek ragu and charred peppers. There will be two risottos on the menu, along with entrees such as a pork porterhouse with eggplant and oysters; and a whole-roasted fishtail with smoked onions and lemon butter, served with an anchovy and arugula salad. Sides include a salt-roasted sweet potato with fermented chili butter, while appetizers will include lamb croquettes with fennel pollen aioli and a wood-grilled lettuce salad with rye croutons, wild oregano, and yogurt dressing.
The beverage program will focus on seasonal cocktails and Old World wines, along with both local and European-style beers in bottles, cans, and a few drafts.
“This food lends itself really well to sparkling wines, so we’ll have an expanded sparking wine program,” Richards says. “We want the beverage side and the kitchen to be a reflection of each other.”
When Lyla Lila opens in early fall, it will serve dinner seven days a week. Weekend brunch will follow, along with weekday lunch. Smith Hanes Studio is designing the 4,000-square-foot space.
“In developing the concept, we pulled out some old vinyl—Miles Davis, Duran Duran, old Madonna—and got inspiration that way,” Streck says. “You might see some vinyl playing on a turntable. We’re definitely encouraging an after-dinner crowd.”
Expect a wooden floor with tiles that merge into the horseshoe bar area. There’s an area with cafe tables and banquettes for cocktails, a dining room, and a 25-seat private room. The Peachtree Street-facing patio is designed for people-watching, while a second patio in the cocktail area features a fireplace as a throwback to Cypress Street’s sizable firepit.
“We want the patio to be a beacon if you’re coming from either side of town,” Richards says.
And if all goes according to plan, Richards says, Lyla Lila will have the energy and vibrancy of his daughter, who is “extremely excited” about having a restaurant named after her.