Ever since La Bottega shuttered and the space went under extreme renovation, city slickers have been wondering what would become of the chic Chelsea spot at the Maritime Hotel. This Thursday, we'll have our answer. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich are at the helm of the new "modern Italian" restaurant, La Sirena, an elegant, bright trattoria serving up elevated dishes in the style of Batali's West Village mainstay, Babbo. Led by Executive Chef Josh Laurano, the menu features fresh takes on traditional dishes such as Amaretti Mascarpone Pancakes for breakfast and Gnocchi alla Sorrentina for dinner. With a 38-foot Caesarstone bar as the dining room's centerpiece, La Sirena is sure to become a local favorite for everything from date night to after-work drinks.

We had a chance to catch up with Mario ahead of the restaurant's much-anticipated opening and get a first look at the exciting new space. What does he recommend from the kitchen? The Artichoke Carpaccio and the Beef Braciole. Check please!

[Mario Batali Gives Donald Trump A Run For His Money & 15 Other Things You Didn't Know About Him]

La Sirena, 88 Ninth Avenue New York, NY 10011

[Photos by Wendy Ploger]