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Week of May 27, 2002
The Basil
Six years ago, Supoj Pornpitaksuk and chef Lek Suntatkolkarn opened Holy Basil in an East Village alcove above Telephone Bar & Grill. After those humble beginnings, they branched out first to the West Village with Little Basil, and then most recently and ambitiously to elegant new premises in Chelsea. At The Basil, Suntatkolkarn (pictured) justifies higher prices with intricate presentations of such inventive East-West hybrids as a Waldorf-like pomelo salad with coconut-peanut dressing, and a porterhouse steak with sautéed morning glory and galangal-tamarind sauce (entrées, $16 to $25). Equally impressive is the wine list, compiled by regular customer Mark Moody, a civil litigator and freelance wine writer whose inspired selection of food-friendly bottles at infinitesimal markups is just the thing to wean spicy-food fans off Singha.
206 West 23rd Street
 Cuisine: Asian Fusion


Any resourceful New York restaurateur can offer his nature-loving customers an outdoor-dining option, no matter how cramped the space or how lacking anything remotely classifiable as nature: Simply evict any sidewalk loiterers, plop down a wobbly table or two, open a Cinzano umbrella, and break out the sangria. Luckily, the suave Italian restaurant Moda at the Flatotel had a lot more to work with. The restaurant's new 70-seat outdoor annex, Loggia, stretches across the entire breezeway space from 52nd to 53rd Street. Planters holding mini herb gardens of basil, thyme, and tarragon set the mood for chef Bill Seleno's new seasonal, southern-Italian menu, which includes nibbles like asparagus with crab and Parmigiano-Reggiano, pizzette, panini, and big plates like grilled whole red mullet with salsa verde.
135 West 52nd Street
 Cuisine: Italian

After a minor refurbishing, NoLIta's space-agiest trattoria has reopened with gentler prices, a new wine bar, and a wine-friendly menu of bruschetta, crostini, and Tuscan-style skewers called spiedini. And just in time for summer-the garden is as lovely as ever.
231 Mott Street
 Cuisine: Italian


Now that Nuevo Latino has become somewhat old hat, chef Rafael Palomino has transformed Sonora, his midtown bastion of Latin-American cooking, into what he calls New York's first fount of Nuevo Mexicano: Mexican cuisine infused with bistro flair. On the menu, that translates into crab and vegetables au gratin, epazote-and-yuca-crusted salmon with cuitlacoche crêpes, and octopus seviche in a coconut.
222 E. 39th Street
 Cuisine: Nuevo Mexican

Openings Archive

Week of May 20
Patagonia West, Café Lebowitz, Unity
Week of May 13
Chocolate Bar, teany, Bar Veloce, THAT Bar
Week of May 6
Sweet Mama's, Amma, Dolcino

and more ...

Photos: Kenneth Chen
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