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Major landlord drama threatens to kill deli king's new Houston restaurant: New pizza concept to swoop in instead?

Major landlord drama threatens to kill deli king's new restaurant plan

Sorrel Urban Bistro restaurant dining room with crowd August 2013
Sorrel may be closing, but what restaurant will replace it is suddenly unclear.  Sorrel Urban Bistro/Facebook

The future of the space currently occupied by Sorrel Urban Bistro is suddenly in doubt. The farm to table restaurant will definitely close after service on New Year's Eve, but Ziggy Gruber may not be opening Dubrow's New York Grill in the spot after all.

That's according to Sorrel owner Ray Salti, who tells CultureMap that landlord John Dunn informs Salti that he has been unable to come to terms with Gruber and business partner Lenny Friedman on transferring Sorrel's lease to Dubrow's.

 "As far as I'm concerned, we're pushing forward. We have a contract with Ray, and he will honor it."   

Gruber disputes Salti's account. "We're waiting for the landlord to transfer the lease. As far as I'm concerned, we're pushing forward," Gruber says. "We have a contract with Ray, and he will honor it." Gruber politely declined to comment further on the specifics of the situation, and Dunn has yet to respond to CultureMap's request for comment.

Salti confirms that he will step aside if the landlord approves Dubrow's assuming the lease, but he's also making plans to move forward with a new concept for the space. If the deal has fallen apart, Salti plans to open a new concept called Bollo Wood Fired Pizza in the Sorrel spot.

Unlike Pepperoni's, the Fort Bend County-based pizza chain Salti also owns, Bollo will specialize in thin crust, authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza.

Bollo will fire pizzas in an oven that Salti plans to order from Italy and use traditional 00 Caputo flour. The menu will be very focused: Just six appetizers, three or four salads and six pizzas. After working with Sorrel's daily menus, Salti says he's looking forward to owning something a little simpler. 

"I created a concept that's comfortable," he says, but that doesn't mean skimping on ingredients. "I'm still going to get Black Hill meats, non-GMO chicken and seafood from the Gulf. 

Whether this is a temporary glitch on the road to reviving the name of an iconic New York restaurant or something more serious remains to be seen, but expect the situation to be clarified soon. The pizza oven will take three months to make and ship to America, and Salti doesn't want to wait too long to order it.