San Francisco, CA | November 12, 2019 - Ittoryu Gozu will explore the nuance and versatility of the wagyu breed through the craft of robatayaki, a Japanese style of open-fire cooking. Served as a kappo-style tasting menu, Gozu’s Executive Chef/Owner Marc Zimmerman and Co-founder Ben Jorgensen of the newly formed MZ Dining Group will brandish long-nurtured relationships with farms in Japan, Australia and America, introducing an eye-opening perspective on wagyu beef and immersing guests in a “nose-to-tail” experience. Tickets are now available on TOCK.
"Wagyu is seen as a luxury item, and at Gozu, we are serving it in a way that allows guests to taste it in new, different and approachable preparations," says Zimmerman. "We will honor the animal by serving it in its entirety. By doing so, we hope to shift the perspective of whole cow use specifically in the wagyu breed."
Chef Marc Zimmerman's culinary career spans the globe, from launching locations of Alexander's Steakhouse in San Francisco, Tokyo and Taipei as business development chef and executive chef of SF, to working in high profile Las Vegas restaurants Nobu, Okada, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Social House and Lutèce. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Zimmerman's first venture from MZ Dining Group alongside partner/co-founder Ben Jorgensen is the much-anticipated Ittoryu Gozu, located in an office tower owned by KBS, one of the largest owners of premier commercial real estate in the country.
“Ittoryu Gozu is such a creative approach to restaurant dining and it will benefit from a great location in 201 Spear Street,” says Brent Carroll, senior vice president and asset manager at KBS. “The SoMa district boasts a highly diverse workforce and close proximity to the Embarcadero Promenade, offering significant foot traffic, both from tenants and employees at the office building as well as a wide variety of locals and tourists.”
"Guests familiar with Marc's cooking style pre-Gozu will expect that they are walking into a beef forward restaurant serving large cuts of A5 grade beef," says Jorgensen. "Our culinary journey at Gozu extends far beyond the food and weaves itself into the design, the hospitality we show our guests, the benefits we extend to our staff, and the effort we put into our technology and marketing endeavors. Everything has intention for a tailored experience. Over the last several years, we have attempted to be as innovative as we can to bring a unique vision to the market that benefits diners, employees, investors and entrepreneurs. Marc has been meticulously planning this restaurant for well over five years. Now, he finally has the power to flex his creativity with the wagyu breed and encourage our team to do the same." Prior to becoming partner of MZ Dining Group, Jorgensen’s start in the culinary world was investing and collaborating early on with the three Michelin-starred SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA.
At Gozu, diners will explore wagyu beyond the primal cuts of ribeye, New York and tenderloin to discover the lesser known parts that normally are not imported. Zimmerman will use kappo, a Japanese style that features five different cooking techniques- grilling, steaming, frying, simmer and raw- to guide guests through two multi-faceted, simplistic and delicate menus, with prices ranging from $95 to $150 per person.
The GOZU Menu focuses on the versatility, intricacies and nuances of the wagyu breed. Guests are guided through a 2.5 hr menu of fifteen items spread over ten courses comprised of Japanese and local sea life, wild foods and wagyu. The MEZU Experience is comprised of eight dishes spread over five courses. Guests are guided through a 1.5 hr experience comprised of Japanese and local life, wild foods and wagyu. A la carte options are available. MENUS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
With full-cow utilization as the inspiration, the restaurant plans for a minimal waste program by highlighting the wagyu cow beyond plated dishes. For instance, burning bones as charcoal, rendering wagyu fat for preserving and aging other meats and vegetables, and fermenting lean cuts to make house-made “shoyu”.
MS candidate and Gozu's Beverage Director, Lindsey Young works closely with Zimmerman to curate a selection of wine, nihon-shu, beer, Japanese whisky and scotch to create a small cocktail menu - all of which are designed to complement the meal. Diners have the option of choosing between five beverage pairing menus, which features a mix of cocktails, rare and exclusive spirits, sake, wine and beer throughout the course of the meal. Or they can order a la carte from cocktails served with Japanese sensibility.
Young's progressive program illuminates the diversity of sake, wine, spirits and beer. Her diverse, forty bottle sake collection of nihonshu brings rare female toji (master brewers) to the forefront, highlighting producers that are resurrecting almost extinct rice varieties. Wines will always include high-quality California, global organic and biodynamic varieties that evolve with the seasons, menus and trends at a value-driven price point. The spirits collection boasts a selection of 40 whiskies; a mix of rare and exclusive Japanese whisky, scotch and local distilleries while the beer selection emphasizes imported Japanese and local craft brews. For the non-alcoholic beverages, Gozu also features housemade infused syrups and teas to create zero proof mixed drinks.
To bring the concept to life, the team has engaged James Beard award-winning a l m project, a multidisciplinary studio and design agency that focuses on the creation of whole environments whose San Francisco clients include Corey Lee's In-Situ, Benu and Monsieur Benjamin.
"a l m’s concept for Gozu draws inspiration from chef Zimmerman’s approach to cooking – highly precise yet at ease,” says Andrea Lenardin-Madden, founder and principal architect. “The menu of Gozu – built on fire and centered on wagyu – reimagines the traditional model of an izakaya restaurant as a place for cultivating transpacific heritage in an essential contemporary setting." Lenardin-Madden's vision of an under-stated space that directs the focus on the food defines the main area of the restaurant as distinct zones are delivered with minimalist mastery to be delightfully unveiled to the guest over the course of the evening.
The subtle palette of mostly charcoal shades of the hard surfaces are accentuated by elemental hues derived from plants and sediments on the soft surfaces and accompanied by a sequence of site-specific cloth murals curated by Lenardin-Madden and created by mural artist Elkpen. Zimmerman and Lenardin-Madden worked in unison to create a highly specific environment unique to Gozu, giving attention to even the smallest of details.
Upon entering the front doors, guests will be greeted by a blackened steel wall that encases the private dining room/whisky chamber. This 12-seat space is hard on the exterior and soft inside – paneled with cloth, it is a deliberate counterpart to all the action surrounding the main dining bar, introverted, and a surprise. Its centerpiece, a marble table designed by a l m, is flanked by leather-cushioned oak seating from Germany’s E15. Designed for guests to savor the creations of Chef Zimmerman in a secluded setting, the space turns into an exclusive Japanese whisky bar later in the evening. Unique to Gozu, the restaurant will create custom plaques for guests to store their private whisky bottles on the shelving of this room.
Specifically designed for Gozu, the open fire robata features a set of grills finished in blackened steel and a Heath tile back, with seating in a U-shape for 25 guests around the hearth. The Kitchen Table, tucked away towards the rear of the restaurant, provides a family-style ambience for 6-8 guests.
The Lounge Area, with seating for 10, is a cozy welcome area for diners to enjoy a pre-dinner drink, those looking to sip a high ball after work and a late-night annex to the distinguished whisky room. It features a custom banquette with Kvadrat fabric, integrated mood lighting custom made by Arancia and side tables by Cappellini.
Commitment to Hospitality
Most recently, Zimmerman and Jorgensen flew their entire restaurant team to Japan to experience the inspiration for the restaurant first hand, by touring the farms and suppliers for Gozu and immersing their front- and back-of-house in Omotenashi, which translates to Japanese hospitality, and means taking pride in anticipating and fulfilling guests' needs in advance.
Zimmerman and the team have carefully studied the traditional restaurant service industry and have designed a profitable business model that will continue to spark the conversation in creating a healthy environment for restaurant workers. In San Francisco, it’s an increasingly treacherous path of conceptualizing a restaurant, from managing landlord woes to avigating the building process to simply opening a profitable business and ensuring fair pay for its employees.
For more information, please visit Gozu at www.gozusf.com, follow on Instagram and Facebook. Gozu is located at 201 Spear Street, San Francisco, CA 94101. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 5:00pm - close. Lunch service will launch closely after opening. Reservations are now available on TOCK. Valet parking available for $10.