Level7, atop the AC Hotel in North Hills’ Park District, has become Midtown’s rooftop destination for craft cocktails, tapas-style small plates, and amazing views. The lounge opened in late March to much fanfare, and has earned a reputation as one of the most impressive gathering places for Raleigh residents and visitors. The man behind the scenes of Level7 is the ebullient Anthony Zinani, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef turned general manager.
NHL: What makes Level7 different from other high-end cocktail bars?
Anthony Zinani: The rooftop view, the cocktails, and the atmosphere. There’s no other place like it in Raleigh. North Hills has a vibrant, urban feel with residential buildings, boutiques, and restaurants all within walking distance. Being part of a city-within-a-city allows us to serve guests who are looking for the perfect location for a pre-dinner drink, a spot to watch football, or a unique venue for a birthday or anniversary celebration.
NHL: Since Level7 opened in March, the menu and concept have evolved. How has Level7 changed?
AZ: We were originally part of the AC Hotel brand and very focused on Spanish wines and tapas. We still have Spanish roots, but with local flavor and products. We have expanded our wine selection, we support regional distilleries, and we’ve added Southern-inspired dishes to our menu like smoked pork belly over saffron rice with a cherry glaze. We’ve created our own identity as Level7 rather than sticking to the brand standards.
NHL: What can guests look forward to on the fall drink list?
AZ: We are rolling out a new cocktail menu for fall that really captures the essence of the season’s flavors, and you will not find anything pumpkin – we want to focus on ingredients that are more original and memorable. Guests can look for cocktails with texture and warmth using ingredients such as maple syrup, orange bitters, egg whites, black lava sea salt, and sparkling cider.
NHL: You are a trained chef, and you’ve spent most of your career in the kitchen. What’s it like to be on the business side now?
AZ: Once a chef, you’re always a chef. What’s important in the food and beverage world is building a team and working as a team. I feel very fortunate to have built a great team to launch Level7, and now I want to be here to support them and build value into them.
NHL: How do you spend your time when you are not working?
AZ: I am off on Sundays and Mondays at home with my kids. I laugh and say those are the days when I work the hardest. I love cooking with my kids after church – we make traditional Italian dishes, and we are compiling a cookbook of family recipes with photos of each meal we make. Everything I cook has a connection to our past, and I want to preserve that for the next generation of my family.
NHL: Why did you choose to go into the food and beverage industry?
AZ: I come from a long line of butchers and bakers, and growing up I thought I was either going to play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox or cook – and here I am.
NHL: Why has opening and managing Level7 been a good fit for you professionally?
AZ: After I finished school, I traveled through Europe and then worked in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and Boston before moving to Raleigh. At Level7, I have been able to draw on my past experiences to create a place that has an urban vibe and European influences with the warmth and hospitality of the South.
For more information on Level7, visit level7roofbar.com, or experience it for yourself at 101 Park at North Hills Street, the 7th floor of the AC Hotel.