Voltaggio Brothers Steak HouseMatt Dougherty • Photography by Bill Milne Photography • May 17, 2017
Designing a restaurant destined to house celebrity chefs and their audience can be quite an undertaking. But designer Thomas Schlesser, principal of New York-based Design Bureaux, went a more intimate route for the Voltaggio Brothers Steak House, a new restaurant that opened in December in the circular concourse of the MGM National Harbor hotel in Baltimore from chefs (and former Top Chef contestants) Michael and Bryan Voltaggio.
Resembling a southern brick home, seven primary rooms—each with its own distinct look—lead guests from a foyer to a chic study bar with a suspended walnut open-coffered ceiling and green-painted bookshelves into a formal dining room with a gold-leaf ceiling that illuminates the wood-veneer walls and colorful porcelain displayed in bronze cabinets.
Burnt orange seating and plaid carpeting in the cozy family room contrast with the more elegant dining room next door, while a casual eat-in kitchen is complete with Windsor-backed chairs, pantry-like shelves filled with white ceramics set against a cream-glazed brick, and an open kitchen. “We took the heart of the challenge and made it into one of the best features,” Schlesser says of the focus on the chefs.
Meanwhile, a dramatic deep blue saturated living room mixes the sapphire hue with metallic textured drapes and a floating oval ceiling. A similar color shows up in the wall paneling in the private dining room. The color scheme and scale of the spaces are “very warm and inviting,” Schlesser says. “It works to be a balance, while simultaneously giving you a sense of intimacy and human scale.”
While each one speaks a different design language, continuity can be found through the subtle gray architectural moldings, limestone floor borders, brass details, and walnut wood finishes that are present throughout the narrow space. “As with any home, there were some things that would be common. We created a vocabulary of elements that were consistent,” Schlesser explains, adding that the 5,000-square-foot space “was very awkward. [We didn’t have] total freedom.” His solution: architectural archways do double duty to both separate and connect the disparate rooms, giving guests views at almost every turn. “The combination of all those things made it a very rich and interesting project,” Schlesser concludes.