After a staggered succession of store openings last autumn heading into a holiday pause, the SoNo Collection is seeing its second burst of promised activity: new restaurants, with four having debuted in the past few weeks and more to follow through this spring.
Uncle Seven opened Sunday at The SoNo Collection mall in South Norwalk, with owner Alan Lee among Connecticut’s notable culinary personalities by virtue of his Ching’s Table restaurant in New Canaan and Steam in Greenwich.
The SoNo Collection mall opened its concourses in October with only a limited selection of stores, adding more as Christmas approached but with several more still under construction, including an Apple Store to replace one at the Stamford Town Center mall; and Connecticut’s first Amazon 4-Star store.
SoNo Collection developer Brookfield Properties had the mall designed with diners in mind, creating a restaurant row on West Avenue that will feature Yard House, Jacob’s Pickles, Sally’s Apizza and Yong Kang Street Dumpling; and a top level collection anchored by the Pinstripes bowling bistro which opened in December; and including a series of concourse pergolas with varied casual dining options.
While Bazille opened in October as a full-service restaurant inside Nordstrom, Brookfield Properties had otherwise put in place stopgap food options for hungry visitors, to include a rotating schedule of food trucks, a temporary Bobby Q’s barbecue stand on weekends, and other snack counters.
Three of those fast-casual concourse eateries are now operating, however, including Pasta Picante where more than a dozen people were grabbing a bite during the noon hour Tuesday on an otherwise quiet afternoon at the mall. Also open are Sono Ramen and Pokelicious, with Mission Ceviche to follow.
Uncle Seven occupies a prime space facing Pinstripes opening onto an outdoor garden seating area, with Lee saying he expects both restaurants to benefit from the other’s presence. Lee said he had considered Norwalk in the past as a possible destination for a new restaurant, but only did so after being approached by Brookfield Properties about The SoNo Collection.
Lee said it was an easy decision, with plans originally to call the restaurant Made in China before choosing the Uncle Seven moniker. Lee said the new restaurant will give a modern interpretation to Asian cuisine, including Cantonese clay pot rice dishes that can be served to order with an array of ingredients.
Uncle Seven opened in advance of its website being completed — Lee hopes to have it online by the weekend — with ours and contact information listed on The SoNo Collection’s online directory.
“Customers were always asking, ‘Hey, Alan, why don’t you just come to Norwalk to open a restaurant,” Lee said. “I thought it was time to open one here.”
Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott.
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman