a new small-plate restaurant on South Seventh Street in downtown Minneapolis, takes its name from the famous Mona Lisa painting, which depicts a “woman with a mysterious smile.”
Restaurant owner Lisa Hanson, who is also its head chef, says that like the painting, she thought the place might pique people’s curiosity: “Since I haven’t been cooking long in this town, I thought there might be a sense of mystery about how I became the 100-percent owner of this restaurant and built it from scratch,” she says.
Hanson revamped the place earlier this year. Previously it had housed an Asian restaurant called Black Bamboo. “There was a lot of work to do,” she says, adding, that only the floor stayed intact. “We gutted the whole thing.”
Today, the 3,000-square-foot space includes an open kitchen, counter seating, and booths, which can accommodate up to 102 people, along with a 75-seat patio.
A 20-foot island-style bar, chandeliers, tiled kitchen, dark wood, gilded mirrors and plenty of white and stainless steel define the space. “The media has said it looks like surgery,” she says. “The dining room is much softer and snazzy-looking.”
Further, the patio is recessed from the street, so it has a more private feel.
Even though the restaurant has only been open for a few months, already it has seen an uptick in foot traffic. “A lot of people have said this is an area that’s underserved,” in terms of the cuisine, she says. “We bring an opportunity for a lovely dining experience” as opposed to the more casual service at a bar.
The restaurant also supports a number of local purveyors and farms and has a seasonal menu--something that she says is also lacking in this part of town. “We bring a lot of those factors to the area,” she says.
In a neighborhood that has many condos and apartment buildings, Mona seems to meet a need. “People come in and are so excited to have a real restaurant in their neighborhood,” she says. “We already have regulars.”
Source: Lisa Hanson, owner and head chef, Mona
Writer: Anna Pratt