After a brief shutter, culinary power couple Cortney Burns and Nick Balla have completed the necessary changes to transform their experimental Japanese concept Motze into the Central European eatery Duna. Taking a cue from Motze’s last few weeks, Duna will keep the fast-casual format, but will shift to flavors a little closer to home for the pair — who have roots in Budapest and Eastern Europe, and became known for bringing exacting techniques to the regional cuisine. “It’s what’s in our blood,” the pair said in an announcement, “and what we have the strongest connection to.”
The opening menu will feature chopped salads “that should be eaten with a spoon” and sopped up with flatbread, as well as heartier plates like spätzle, chicken paprikas, and stuffed cabbage rolls. There will also be a selection of snacks and dips like smoked potato flatbread, liptauer paprika cheese dip and sprouted white bean dip. Fans of the sprouted lentil croquettes from the pair’s old Bar Tartine days might be excited to learn those are making an appearance in the Belgrade salad with roasted cauliflower, spinach and yogurt.
The interior at Motze (which was a former Herbivore location) also got some new decorations in the three days the restaurant has been closed and now features a woodsy vibe that echoes the forests along the River Danube. (Duna is the Hungarian name for the river, by the way.)
The restaurant is now open at 983 Valencia Street and the concept is expected to be permanent this time around. Dinner service is 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Wednesday - Friday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and delivery service are expected to follow later this summer.