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Week of May 20, 2002

take out
Ice Ice Baby
Not every parent considers Italian ices an absolute requirement for a teething tot with a dairy allergy, but that's how NYC ICY, a new East Village Italian-ice stand, got started. Dissatisfied with the goods available to their son, Noah, Jonathan and Suzie Leeds decided to get into the business themselves. Like most passionate single-product purveyors, Jonathan is tight-lipped about his methodology: All we could get out of him is that he learned his craft from "some very experienced gelato people, and some old Italian guy," and that he does "certain things differently than other people, but can't really say what." He will admit that he uses mostly natural ingredients in both his water and his cream ices ($1.50 for two scoops to $7 for a quart): freshly squeezed orange juice and Madagascar vanilla in his creamsicle, Callebaut cocoa in his chocolate-peanut butter, fresh-peach purée in his peach, and crystallized ginger and real apricots in his excellent apricot-ginger. So far, the number of giddy adults on line is easily outpacing the number of lactose-intolerant toddlers, but that may change once word spreads among the nursery schools.
21 Avenue B

best of the week
Jimmy's Downtown
Eagerly awaited and delayed for months, Jimmy Rodriguez's sleek SoHo-style sequel to Jimmy's Uptown and Jimmy's Bronx Café finally makes its debut. Start an office pool: How soon will Derek Jeter be spotted here by "Page Six"?
Jimmy's Downtown
400 East 57th Street


in print
The New Zagat of the Wine World?
If the exceedingly democratic, user-friendly Andrea Immer's Wine Buying Guide for Everyone (Broadway; $12.95) reminds you of a certain identically sized, identically priced paperback restaurant guidebook, it's no accident. Immer -- Esquire columnist, French Culinary Institute wine dean, and recent James Beard-award winner -- would no doubt love to see her new book take its mass-market place next to the Zagat Survey on every bookshelf and checkout counter. To that end, she's pulled together a list of more than 400 top-selling wines around the country and invited her populist tasting panel of wine buyers, servers, and consumers to rate them by taste and value -- on a scale of 0 to 30, no less. But we find ourselves more interested in Immer's own opinions, particularly the letter grades she assigns based on the staying power of opened bottles ("Kitchen Fridge and Countertop Survivors") and her own personal recommendations for the "Top 50 Wines You're Not Drinking." After all, she's the expert.

Ask Gael
Do I see Greeks bearing gifts?
Once chef at Milos and Trata, after stints at Bouley and Le Cirque, chef-partner Peter Spyropoulos lightens his native home cooking with classic French tricks at Dias -- fate's latest gift to Upper West Side gourmands. Lobster and fish stocks, fennel and leeks in the spinach pie, jalapeño and sharp red pepper in the spicy cheese mousse ignite flavors. Suddenly, old familiars in a sampler -- garlicky yogurt-based tsatsiki, the smoky eggplant salad, carp-roe taramasalata, and almond-scented skordalia -- are reborn, feisty yet ethereal, to smear on thick-sliced sourdough toast. Tomatoes in sunset hues color the huge Greek salad. By the time we've devoured starters -- savory stuffed calamari, cuttlefish slivers bathed in saffron-lemon-olive oil, and a mountain of crisp-fried calamari -- we can't do justice to luscious grilled char (rare, just as I like it) or the two clay pots from the oven: Chilean sea bass in a rich oniony fish broth, and grape-leaf-wrapped salmon on orzo. After 126 days without a night off, Spyropoulos is happily plotting a meze bar below.
103 West 77th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of May 13
Coda Café becomes Café 66; Beacon revives a nineteenth-century tradition; The Palm gets back to its red-sauce roots.
Week of May 6
Mother's Day Dining; the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory; Pico's tribute to the Tribeca Film Festival; Arezzo's tempesta; happy meals; the latest place for Chinese in midtown
Week of April 29
The China Fun heir; bar dining at D'Artagnan; the first annual sake summit; can Compass find the way?

and more ...

Photos: From top to bottom- Patrik Rytikangas (first and third); Eric Piasecki (second).

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