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Week of August 5, 2002

Red Alerts
Not corn, not peaches, not even a Coney Island hot dog comes close to saying summer like a perfectly ripe tomato. To make the most of the too-short season, some chefs have begun sorting through the local crop, concocting cocktails and devising all-tomato menus before we're reduced to making do with those wan airshipped impostors. — ROB PATRONITE

1240 Sixth Avenue, at 49th Street
Chef Brian Bistrong's quadruple-tomato triumph (a $12 appetizer, pictured) features tomato "ravioli" filled with artichokes, an heirloom-tomato terrine with tomato-water sorbet, a stack of juicy "logs" cored from the center of the fruit, and a cherry-tomato-feta salad on garlicky bruschetta.

Restaurant Serenäde
6 Roosevelt Avenue
Chatham, N.J.
They don't call it the love apple for nothing: Chef James Laird goes completely gaga over his home state's celebrated beefsteaks all month long, but on August 8, he demonstrates the depth of his devotion with a five-course tomato tasting menu, $120, including wines.

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place
Co-chefs Dan Barber and Mike Anthony have the benefit of a Pennsylvania farm to plunder for raw materials; those of us without kitchen gardens of our own can book a seat August 20 for their $65, five-course Celebration of Tomatoes tasting menu.


100 East 53rd Street
Heirlooms, beefsteaks, and cherries from Long Island and New Jersey come together in chef Luc Dimnet's kitchen to kick off his Tomato Festival, from now through September. Dimnet stuffs them with ratatouille, whips them into gazpacho with lobster, and turns them into marmalade, while pastry chef Martin Howard concocts yellow-tomato cupcakes for dessert. (It is a fruit, after all.)


Ask Gael
I want a cheap flight to Naples.
Proudly Neapolitan in heritage are all sorts of impeccable fritti, as well as classic free-form pizzas out of the wood-fired oven, at Celeste. A flower-decked terrace leads into country-cottage quaint with gingham and sky-blue plates and exactly what you'd eat in Naples: deep-fried buffalo-mozzarella balls (soft and creamy). Savory seafood fritto misto. And the day's riff on zucchini blossoms. Quite a trick for Teodora's Giancarlo Quadalti (pictured), staunch partisan of Emilia-Romagna and chef-partner here. He's mastered the mantra of Upper West Side eats, too: big portions, small prices. Antipasti and salads (anchovy crostini, sautéed mussels, stuffed eggplant rolls, thin-sliced artichokes with pecorino) run $4.50 to $8.50. Artisanal pastas from Campania (wonderfully al dente pennette with zucchini and pecorino among them) compete with the chef's rich handmade raviolini and gnocchi ($8 to $9.50). And there is gorgeous gelato from Bussola downtown, including hazelnut-chocolate in the shape of a porcini.
502 Amsterdam Avenue, near 84th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of July 22
Where to indulge a fish taco craving; the inside scoop behind Daniel Boulud's kitchen; yogurt goes Greek; the Ambassador Grill's limited-time star menu
Week of July 15
Steak as smooth as butter; Dosa Hutt takes Manhattan; Two Italian Girls' ready-to-eat meals; Gael impresses the boys at Michael Jordan's
Week of July 8
San Domenico's new tramezzinos; Bastille Day at Restaurant Provence; Clinton St. Baking Company introduces dinner; Gael finds anonmynity at Cucina & Co.

and more ...

Photos:Kenneth Chen

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