New Canaan's Newest Hot Spot Replacing Pine Social

High-end Chef Nicholas Martschenko is giving the space an overhaul and Patch got a little sneak peak at the menu!


Many were sad to see Pine Social go, but every ending brings a new beginning.

That new beginning brings Chef Nicholas Martschenko to the heart of New Canaan to fill the empty space on Pine Street with his new restaurant - South End.

Martschenko comes to us from the likes of Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY, Gramercy Tavern on East 20th Street in Manhattan, and i Trulli ion East 27th Street in New York.

“It’s going to be all about great food, great atmosphere, great service and great libations in a comfortable setting,” said Martschenko, 38, who comes to New Canaan with his wife and three young children. “The approach is new, American, contemporary, approachable dishes.”

Martschenko attended the Culinary Institute of America from 1996 to 1998 and started off at Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine.

Martschenko gave Patch a sneak peak at the menu with appetizers like fried baby artichokes, roasted garlic aioli, spit-roasted pancetta with grilled nectarines, and rocket greens in saba syrup.

Dinner? Pan-seared, black sea bass with panzanella salad and gazpacho vinaigrette.

Drinks? A full bar.

South End will also serve lunch during the week and brunch for the weekends. 

“I’m very excited about this deal,” said Pyramid Restaurant Group broker Steven Matsis. “I have a sense for these things, I’ve been doing it for 27 years, and I believe this is going to be a very hot location in town. It’s right on the money and just what we need in town.

“I’d say it’s a bit of upscale, American tavern atmosphere, not too stuffy,” said Matsis, founder of Capital Restaurant Group in 2004. “Nicholas is a very, very high-end chef, comes from high-end operations in New York, and he’s a young guy. He’s partnering with a very experienced pastry chef and they’re looking to do some very cool stuff.

"Pine Social was great, but, from my experience and what I’ve read of Nicholas’ information for the landlord, I think they’re going to do something that will bring even more revenue. It’ll be a very cool place, not terribly over-priced, fun, casual affordable - a good time with good food,” said Matsis. 

The space is currently undergoing renovations that Martschenko says will “really open up the place. We’re going to lighten it up, open up the windows, lighten up the wood - make it more of a home-style feeling .”

Martschenko also has a partner, Keith Siskind, who runs Tarry Lodge, which is located in Port Chester and Westport.

It is still too early for an official, grand opening date to be released; however, residents should look out for South End to open their doors sometime later in August.

Emily Constance (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Hi Lisa - I've actually been trying to get in touch with folks and parks and recreation (for many reasons) to ask about that. What have you heard about that?
Big Willy June 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I hope they install perimeter cameras, retina scanners, and get the wonderful TSA involved for pat downs. For the dog park too!
Patrick Henry June 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM
J Bauer, I respectfully disagree. Roger Sherman is not in business because it is historic. In fact, they are in business because the food is good and the atmosphere is good too. If "historic" is the only qualifier, than places like Silvermine Tavern and Manero's would still be going strong. Cherrystreet is still in business because people in New Canaan like good pub food and cold beer served in a nice, cozy, friendly environment. Perhaps you are confusing Cherrystreet with Gates? As for pedigree, Nick was the chef at the recently-closed Market in Stamford, so pedigree doesn't always carry the weight. The success of places like Gramercy and i Trulli depended on guys like Danny Meyer and Nicola Marzovilla to steer exec chefs and sous chefs in the right direction. Whether Nick can pull it off in NC is yet to be seen. I wish him luck.
Big Willy June 21, 2012 at 09:25 PM
When a restaurant is number 3-4 and doesn't make it, it usually means Chinese take-out is next. "Hot Atmosphere" and New Canaan don't go. As soon as it gets hot, NC's finest will be in force to make sure it doesn't stay hot. If it's hot, I will be the first one there. Can anybody say Tuscan?
TP June 21, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I am told that the dog park swipe card system is actually a dry run for a swipe card system for the town's entire perimeter. Anyone wishing to enter or transit (car, truck, bike, or walker) will have to fill out an application and pay a fee (fees higher for non-residents). The process will also require proof of medical immmunizations, etc., and the applicant will have to sign a form acknowledging town rules and regulations. The office will be closed on weekends so any non-registered person will not be allowed entry. A transition to an EZpass type system is contemplated as are retina scans. Says one spokesperson: "Our biggest issue is people come and don't have a stake in the town and don't obey the rules. Rather than an appreciation for the wonderful amenity that is New Canaan, the attitude can be 'its a public place and I can do what I want.' When entry to the town is totally free, sometimes its considered valueless."
J Bauer June 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
hear ya, Patrick. Roger Sherman isnt bad, but I still say the draw is the atmosphere more than the food. As for Cherry Street... well, I have yet to get a clean glass or something that wasn't microwaved there, so I will stick to my afforementioned opinion. Danny Meyer is maybe the best restaurant operator in NY, so no arguments there. As for Nicola, well.. he's a quirky guy that I got to know pretty well over the years and I will say this... ever since opening his Houston street place and since Charles left, the place hasnt been the same. But, at their peak, it was one of the best... lets hope Nick learned something, especially about how to make Dora's pasta.
God Bless New Canaan June 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
This article leaves more questions than answers. Has there been a change of ownership, or is it the same restaurant 'combine' putting on a new dress? Wouldn't it be prudent to wait for them to open before reviewing their menu and decor? The fact is a restaurant never makes money in its first two years; it takes commitment and five years to earn a place in the pantheon of New Canaan Restaurants. Following the direction this thread is taking, let's go over to Fat Tuesday's and discuss dog parks over a beer
Emily Constance (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 10:38 PM
This is meant to be a teaser. There has been no review, just a peak at a few menu items and what to anticipate with the decor. The new owner is Chef Nicholas Martschenko, as mentioned above.
Emily Constance (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Chef Nicholas Martschenko sounds pretty excited to be here, so let us hope the town gives him a nice welcome and, at the very least, a fair shot.
Lisa June 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Emily, your competition beat you to the story. There was an above the fold article in today's Advertiser. The dog park will have a coded entry system and anyone wishing to get code must have a permit. This will allow NCPD to monitor who is in the park. If your dog acts up expect a knock on the door from Officer Kleinschmidt. What a town. You need a permit to go to the dump and now you need one for your dog to take a dump.
Gregory A Smith June 22, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Ah, Fat Tuesday's! That was the place to be! G
Emily Constance (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Fat Tuesday's? North of the Mason-Dixon Line? Very interesting...
mary parker June 22, 2012 at 04:42 AM
The new place is going to fail also. They want to offer the same things as the other resteraunts in town. No matter who the chef is unless it is a celeberaty chef, is doomed at that location. The first and second reseraunts at that location offered basically the same idea and failed. Now the new place is doing the same. And I also don't get the renovations part? It was a new place to start, then renovated the 2nd time, now renovated a 3rd time. Renovations aren't the way to go here. The type of food is. Mexican is the way to go with live music that goes around to each table and plays for the diners. And female dancers. Entertainment during your meal will draw a crowed along with good Mexican food. Not like Tequila's average food but top notch mexican food.
mary parker June 22, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I wish I had a backer to help me with this idea of a new mexican rest. with live music and dancer's. It would be a sucess in this town.
Big Willy June 22, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Tequila was the place. Bar get boring with no music. But we do need a really good Mexican restaurant like Rosa Mexicano in New York.
Big Willy June 22, 2012 at 01:20 PM
It was the place to be.
Lisa June 22, 2012 at 01:35 PM
The problem with both Pine Social and the previous rendition ( of which name I forget) was indifferent service and untrained staff considering the price. I believe that both restaurants had same ownership who also owns Pizza Planet. You can't run a high end restaurant like a pizza shop and expect people to return. I will not go back to a restaurant that requires me to keep tracking down waiter for missing fork/ another drink / check like I'm hailing a cab in NYC. When I put on my New Canaan uniform ( latest Torrie Burch sandals, Lilly Pulitzer dress and Poppa puts on his crisp Bill's Khaki's and bright Ralph Lauren polo), I don't need a hot time. What I need is a place with great food and great service that appreciates our business. It's a short list in NC.
John Thomas Nailor June 22, 2012 at 01:51 PM
J Bauer Are you a Big Mac kind of guy? FYI: CSE does not have a microwave and from what you have written I would guess that you get your libations at CSE in a Childproof Paper cup.
J Bauer June 22, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I only drink my beer from childproof cups with a straw, of course. Just not at CSE because somehow the paper cup would probably be dirty too.
NCDad June 22, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I never had a problem with the service at Pine Social. In fact, I think it had better service and food than most places in town. One of my servers had previously been at one of the best high-end places in Stamford, Napa & Co., and I found the FOH very friendly and professional. It was always busy and had a good bar crowd which is where the $$ is REALLY made. So all that being said, I believe the previous poster Virgie Brennan, who said Joe Rocco just wanted to get out of the business. Owning/running a restaurant is a grind, and that seems to be the case here. It could also be he wants to get out while still ahead - with all the new places in town, someone is gonna fold. Guarantee at least two closures before the end of the year. The Planet Pizza relation never bothered me, though I could see how it turned some people off to Rocco's (the previous rendition). It IS worth saying, people were killing that place before it even opened. It never had a chance.
Richard Cranium June 22, 2012 at 07:20 PM
"Martschenko attended the Culinary Institute of America from 1996 to 1998 and started off at Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine." As a frequent visitor to Down East, I have dined at Primo many times since the mid-90s and I can tell you that it is one of the best restaurants in New England. New Canaan could take some lessons from these folks. We need a restaurant that is serious about food and maintains a well-stocked wine cellar. What we don't need more of is New York priced mediocre entrees and over-priced drinks.
bi11me June 22, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Having worked with Chef Martschenko, I'm pretty sure that if there is any drawback to the restaurant, it will be the negativity and unrealistic expectations that the local population bring to the mix, as evidenced by some of the preceding comments. Nick is as skilled and dedicated a chef as New Canaan is likely to attract, but those skilled are likely to be wasted on those who go to dinner for recreation and to be seen. Those who appreciate fine cooking won't be disappointed. Hopefully they won't blame the chef or the business when demand exceeds capacity, which has been the case in previous venues where Nicks' talents were allowed to shine.
Lisa June 22, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Nice! I think I speak for all when I say thanks for stopping by Chef Martschenko. You sound like Lenny from the Gulf Station. Certainly when you have a top shelf review prior to opening the bar is set high and along with it the expectations. As long as the food is "approachable" and you can get a drink when you want, I'm sure the place will be a rousing success. One of flaws of many of the start up "NY style" restaurants in NC is the the ownership comes in with $ signs in their eyes and think they can just hang up their shingle and the money will come rolling in. The indifference toward the patron is palpable as the food is unpalatable..
Big Willy June 22, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Ok, when the new "Hot Spot" opens, everyone here on the thread, I'm buying! Let's see how social everyone is. Lisa bring Glen. Mary Parker, and your Lilly's. I'm always in polo! See ya there! Cheers!
Rocco June 22, 2012 at 11:10 PM
The patch started their artical by saying master chef Nick Martschenko . With all due respect the words master chef is misuses too many times in this country. To be a master chef in the USA require a great amount of experience and you need to pass a gruling 10 day exam given at the culinary institute of America in junction with the American culinary federation. During this 10 day test you will have several of our countries master chef watching your every move. It is the highest level of certification possible in the culinry arts field. The USA only have 72 or so master chefs and 14-15 master pastry chef. As far as I know Nick is not there yet, I am sure he is very talented chef but for the NCP to call him a master chef is not fair to those chefs who passed that test. This has nothing to do with Nick but all to do with the NCP not doing their home work. Best of luck to Nick and Keith on this exciting adventure and when I am up your way I will be sure to check you guys out.
Angie S. July 18, 2012 at 07:15 PM
As though anyone actually uses the dog park as they should! How many times have I spotted dog droppings on the pedestrian path at Irwin Park? And people walking their large dogs everywhere there's green? I don't see them with bags to pick up after their dogs, so I sure hope they do have them in their pockets or something.
Angie S. July 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Now even fewer people would bother to use the dog park if they need to get a permit to use it! Oy!
Angie S. July 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Location within the downtown area shouldn't matter THAT much. Come on people. This is a walking downtown. The Pine Social location isn't all THAT far from "restaurant row". However, I do wonder if New Canaan has one too many upscale restaurants and not enough places where folks can dine out at more modest prices. Do we really need yet another overpriced restaurant? I couldn't believe I could have a decent meal at cheaper prices in Greenwich, of all places. I thought for sure New Canaan would be at least more affordable than Greenwich establishments.
Angie S. July 18, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Pine Social had approachable prices, but the food was kind of spotty on and off, depending on what you ordered. The marinated skirt steak was always too tough, for example. Their seafood and poultry dishes tended to be much better, though occasionally a bit on the salty side. I thought it would do OK and am sad to see it go. It was one of the few restaurants in New Canaan that had reasonable prices.
Angie S. July 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I agree with others' sentiments --- if you're going to charge NY prices here in NC, you had better make sure the food AND the service is superb. I'm a NY foodie, and I've tried many of NC's restaurants. I don't usually return to the ones where the price tag is high but the food is mediocre. With the high price tags on NC menus, of course the expectation of diners like me would be high to match! I agree with whoever mentioned something about some restaurant owners seeming to think they can simply open up their doors and charge high prices for mediocre food just because they're in NC and $$$ will roll in. My advice to would-be restaurateurs is, if you're going to have hefty price tags on your menu, make sure your food AND service are WORTH every penny! :-)


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