Named for a 1946 De Sica film, Sciuscia ("shoeshine" in Italian) is owner Gianfranco Sorrentino's younger, loungier sequel to Il Gattopardo, the southern-Italian spot he named for the '63 Visconti classic. When Sciuscia debuts below the Hotel Giraffe on September 25, its eclectic Mediterranean menu will include a supporting cast of Il Gattopardo winners like escarole sautéed with black olives and anchovies, artichoke parmigiana, and Neapolitan meat loaf. But its broader geographic sweep also allows for Spanish tuna over red-beet salad, lamb stew with yogurt sauce, and fried everything for sharing, from zucchini and calamari to asparagus, artichokes, and tomato skins. At lunch, a $22.50 daily changing piatto unico is a European version of the bento box, with courses arranged on a single platter, from salad to dessert.
365 Park Avenue South, at 26th Street
· Cuisine: Mediterranean
After winning raves from friends and family for her home baking, Elspeth Treadwell abandoned her anonymous corporate cubicle for a funky East Village tea house of her own. At Podunk, where everything from the furniture to the artwork is for sale, the Minnesota native has found her calling: "to debunk tea and make it much less froufrou." In so doing, she abstains from what she disdainfully calls "highfalutin ganache and overmoussed everything," focusing instead on a combination of Scandinavian specialties and tried-and-true confections. We're especially fond of her light, fragrant cardamom ring and her moist, sweet Uncle Hat's bars (better-known as magic-cookie bars). Full teas cost $12 for one, $22 for two, and are available in "nibbler" and "rustic" versions, each offering a different sweet-and-savory assortment of dried fruit, cheese, buttery scones, and crumbly cookies.
231 East 5th Street
· Cuisine: Tea house
When chef Erica Miller and her partner, Nathan Foreman (pictured), found a space to open Kloe Restaurant, they didn't know it was haunted by ghosts of politicos pastnamely Mayor Jimmy Walker, who, it's rumored, belonged to a social club that once inhabited the landmarked premises. The partners restored what they could, including mahogany ceiling beams and planks inscribed with exhortations to eat, drink, and be merry. That shouldn't be hard: Miller's French-influenced American menu features frisée aux lardons, seared foie gras with apricot conserve, za'atar-dusted duck breast, and a vegan vegetable medley with tofu brandade. And in the spirit of the heavy drinkers who used to convene here, downstairs has been christened the Tough Club Bar & Loungeonly now it serves chocolate vodka cocktails topped with Hershey's Kisses.
243 West 14th Street
· Cuisine: French-American
Smoochies Lite & Creamy
In the pantheon of low-fat, low-calorie, frozen desserts, this newcomer distinguishes itself by its bright, modern design, its lactose-free formula, its abstention from artificial ingredients, and the Orange Julius–style smoothies it whips up for the members of the flagship New York Health & Racquet Club next door.
60 West 23rd Street
· Cuisine: Frozen dessert
Royal Jerk Grille
It won't be long before the cabbies start pulling up to the curb to refuel at this spacious steam-table Caribbean joint, a welcome addition to a Lower East Side nabe that's woefully short on curry-goat roti, ital stew, Jamaican patty sandwiches, and rice and peas. The menu trumpets four levels of spiciness for the jerk chicken and wings, from mild to inferno, but early tastes indicate a tentative hand with the chilies.
250 East Houston Street
· Cuisine: Caribbean
The house specialty at this Israeli café comes in lamb and turkey versions, rolled in fluffy pita and supplemented by a generous assortment of salads and vegetables from the well-stocked salad bar. The grilled eggplant and dainty falafel are highly recommended add-ons, and if the thing is too unwieldy to eat on the run, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor tables in back.
321 Sixth Avenue
· Cuisine: Israeli