Restaurant Reviews
  Openings & Buzz
  In Season: Weekly Recipe
  Underground Gourmet
  Ask Gael
  Restaurant Roundups
  Best of NY Food Picks
  Where to Eat 2005
  Uptown Delivery Guide
  Cheap Eats
  Recipe Archive
  Restaurant Insider
  Weekly e-mail with reviews, recipes, and restaurant news and openings.
  Sign Up
Week of September 23, 2002

Top Dog
Even for unapologetic Papaya King junkies, eating a frank is an act of blind faith. As for how it's made and what's in it, ignorance is bliss. But Niman Ranch is out to change all that. The Bay Area producer of boutique beef and pork has recently started distributing its Fearless Franks to East Coast gourmet stores like Citarella and Eli's Manhattan, where they no doubt appeal to smart consumers who care about how animals are raised (free-range, on sustainable family farms, on a diet of hormone-and-antibiotic-free feed that could pass for gourmet granola) before they become dinner. City Bakery's Ilene Rosen uses them for her tasty deep-fried corn dogs, served with peanuts and pretzels; miniaturized and wrapped in puff pastry, they become name-brand pigs-in-blankets at Grace in Tribeca; and next week, the hickory-smoked, all-beef dogs make their steamed Brooklyn debut at Sparky's American Food, a fast-food joint opening in a converted Williamsburg warehouse. Owner and reformed dot-commer Brian Benavidez sourced the best ingredients he could find for everything (Ronnybrook ice cream for milkshakes, organic Cheddar for cheese fries, custom-baked buns). But the dog's the thing, and he serves it a dozen or so ways, with toppings ranging from chili-pickle relish to homemade ketchup. And the name? "Sparky's my dog," he says. We suspected as much. —ROB PATRONITE
Sparky's American Food
135-A North 5th Street, Williamsburg

the underground gourmet
Coffee-Shop Confidential
It's one thing for a bar or restaurant seeking a certain exclusive cachet not to hang a sign out front; it's another thing for one to completely hide behind a floor-to-ceiling Wizard of Oz velvet curtain in a hotel lobby. That's where you'll find the unnamed coffee shop unofficially known as The Burger Joint. Enter Le Parker Meridien hotel, breeze past the reception desk, take a sharp left at the curtain, and look for the unmarked door. The idea behind the month-old spot— a windowless nook that deceptively gives the impression of having always been there, with its brown vinyl booths, wood paneling, and industrial-size cans of Heinz ketchup on the shelves— was to give overwhelmed tourists a cheap, kid-friendly, no-nonsense alternative to room service, and stressed-out natives a place to decompress from the overheated, often exhausting restaurant scene. To that end, the menu is brief: crisp and salty fries, $2.50 Sam Adams in a plastic cup, fudgy homemade brownies, and juicy $4.50 burgers on plain old soft buns that hit the spot, whether you've just flown in from Tokyo or trudged over from your office across the street.
The Burger Joint (at Le Parker Meridien Hotel)
119 West 56th Street



Ask Gael
Do I hear you right?
Ápizz. Yes, that's street talk for pizza, down south in Italy. How ironic, then, that we are thrilled by almost everything coming out of the oven at Ápizz but the sluggish pizza, a futon of cheese. Love the crumbed rings of calamari, the fabulous stuffed peppers, a lush comfort of eggplant rollatine, and heavenly meatballs, all in portions we four are happily sharing. Chef-partner Frank DeCarlo godfathered this small and congenial spot, and he's here afternoons overseeing the prep (you can taste it in the vibrant sauces). But you won't find him at the oven come dinner—he's committed to being on the line at Peasant. Just blocks away on a not-yet-gentrified Eldridge Street, Ápizz is another, cheaper world. Just as you lather the crusty bread with whipped ricotta, someone ladles tomato sauce from a crock for dipping. Soon you're sharing grilled lamb chops with roasted potatoes, and chicken, wondrously moist and lemony. The lattice of a rustic peach tart looks irresistible, too, but hides leathery fruit and pastry sog.
217 Eldridge Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of September 16
Mexican beers that redefine luxury imports; Savoy's cozy makeover; Le Bernardin's new fourth course makes it's prix fix even better
Week of September 9
Mario Batali's supermarket debut; Gael explores Patricia Yeo's inventive style at Pazo
Week of September 2
Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course; a perfect new Latin-Caribbean flavored bakery; Zagat's updates and changes in New York's Marketplace; Gael finds a feast in western Long Island

and more ...

Photos:Patrik Rytikangas, Kenneth Chen (2nd & 3rd)

Copyright © 2018 , New York Metro, Llc. All rights reserved. About Us | Contact Us |  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use |  Search/Archives  | Advertise with Us  |  Newsletters  | Media Kit
New York Magazine: About New York   | Contact New York |  Subscribe to the Magazine |  Customer Services  | Media Kit