Cantinery . Istanbul, Turkey


Roman and Williams, along with Cem Mirap, the force behind the celebrated restaurant Lucca in Istanbul, have joined forces to create a new restaurant concept, Cintinery, at the Zorlu Center in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey. A meaningful retail complex that will include global retail and hotel brands, as well as residences, this new restaurant is one of the few local brands to be included in the Center. This is also Roman and Williams’s first international restaurant project.

While proud to be amongst globally renowned brands, Roman and Williams was excited to work with a local talent to create a cozy, familiar and comfortable atmosphere in this restaurant. Situated on perfect gathering corner, similar to the location of the firm’s other all-star restaurant projects Lafayette and The Dutch, Roman and Williams drew inspiration from a beautifully stocked kitchen or market, taking the enduring materiality of utilitarian industrial space and refining it by combining it with a classic French bistro meets cantina. The result is something welcoming, with a classic international spirit paired with a distinctly New York City vibe.

The façade is done in a buttery cream palette, accented by a custom-created steel window system with curved corners, giving passerby the feeling of looking through a vitrine. The outdoor seating brings the energy of the restaurant out onto the street, while also engaging the walkway and passerby, enticing them in. Once inside, your gaze is drawn upward to the vaulted ceiling, inspired by the historic Turkish architecture and by the Center Street subway station in New York, created in homage to Gustavino. The vaulting forms domes and adds beautiful sound quality in the space. The ceiling is outfitted in butter-hued tiles, giving the impression of a clean yet simple butter vault. Harmonizing with the ceiling, the flooring is done in end grain wood, giving the space a dash of classic TriBeCa and creating a strong structural floor that is still humble and striking.

The concept of the restaurant is farm to table, but a more modernized version, with a smooth, clean aesthetic. The stone topped bar calls for soothing drinks and relaxing conversation. The wine fridge and storage are in full view, as is a display cabinet for hearty breads. The sense is that you find yourself inside a perfect pantry, bright, shiny and clean, but also familiar and welcome. The materials and atmosphere invite guests to linger and indulge.

Comfortable fabric banquettes adorn the room, as though you’ve entered the home of a friend. The fabric is soft and accented with thrown cushions. Diners sit at hardy wooden tables, again taking a refined concept and marrying it with earthy comfort of a local spot that feels energetic yet easy and straightforward.

The dining area includes a chef’s table and an open kitchen, which is wrapped in historic deep blue Turkish tile, highlighting this gem in the restaurant.  The theatricality of watching the cooking as it happens only adds to the experience. This open concept, from the food displayed around the restaurant to the ability to watch the chef’s in action, evokes the idea that you are dining in a friend’s well-stocked kitchen. The diners can see where the food they will enjoy comes from - nothing is hidden or too protected.

These elements combined create a remarkable atmosphere that is relevant for all meals and times in between. Many areas of Turkey are quite dense and historic; walking into this clean and friendly space is like walking into a resort, soothing and transformative. The space subtly allows guests to transition between their meals and their day; coming in for an afternoon coffee can lead to a drink before dinner and then dinner itself. Roman and Williams has successfully created restaurant spaces that span the entirety of the day and this anticipated restaurant will join their other lauded works in true RW2 fashion.