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Week ofJanuary 6, 2003

According to Romain Brisson and Pascal Jatteaux, the name of their new Brooklyn bistro, Fada, means "crazy" in Provençal dialect. But in a nice way—more specifically, "someone who has a fairy in his head." That might explain how they ended up in the Never-Never-Land of Williamsburg, but to prove they're not completely bonkers, they hired Franck Platini, a talented chef from Marseille who vows to introduce Williamsburgers to la vraie bouillabaisse as soon as he hooks up with the proper seafood suppliers. Until then, classic bistro dishes like coq au vin, cassoulet, and tender sautéed calamari will do nicely. And the gentle prices—appetizers from $4 to $6 and entrées hovering around $15—seem sane enough.
530 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn

· Cuisine: French

Five Front
Partners Patty Lowry and Paul Vicino took a chance opening their American bistro Five Front in a jinxed Brooklyn location where two French cafés have failed in quick succession, and, before them, it was the metal-clad Tin Room Cafe, which explains all the renovation the new owners had to do. Having exposed brick, installed a new bar, and enclosed the kitchen, they've started serving the upscale comfort food that won Vicino a devoted neighborhood following at the 12th Street Bar & Grill in Park Slope, where Lowry's an owner. Now the chef hopes to draw neighbors from Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo with signature dishes like curried mussels and steak au poivre, lusty specials like duck sausage with zesty potato salad, and a $19 prix fixe on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
5 Front Street, Brooklyn

· Cuisine: Comfort food

Don Don Ya
When it comes to tantalizing fast food, Japan's got us beat. Where we supersize, Japan diversifies, with everything from octopus fritters to Japanese rice bowls, or donburi, which have been making midtown-Manhattan inroads. Last year, the international Yoshinoya chain opened its first New York branch in Times Square, and now the 24-hour Goliath gets some spirited competition from Don Don Ya, a spartan Herald Square source of rice bowls topped with ribbons of beef, glazed chicken, grilled eel, shrimp tempura, and salmon teriyaki. Sushi, rice balls, ginger-dressed salads, and Japanese soft drinks round out the menu, which is available to fortify Macy's shoppers (and gift exchangers) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m daily.
875 Sixth Avenue, near 31st Street

· Cuisine: Japanese

M J Grill
Fans of MarkJoseph Steakhouse will be relieved to find, at its casually comfortable offshoot, the same thick Canadian bacon served by the slice, the same schlag adorning the desserts, and a satisfying burger. There's also a big bar and plenty of room for happy-hour hordes.
110 John Street

· Cuisine: Steakhouse

Noi Café
Sicilian chef Marco Carmelo Barrila's animated patter fills the lull between courses, but his luscious panini and well-dressed, nicely appointed salads are worth the wait. The narrow dining room is decked out with mosaic-topped tables and colorful oversized platters, courtesy of his wife's Little Italy ceramics shop.
271 Bleecker Street

· Cuisine: Italian

Following in the pioneering footsteps of Max Soha, this rustic Morningside Heights ristorante serves similarly affordable menu of panini, pasta, and daily specials like "my dear uncle Riccardo's" zuppa di pesce on Saturdays.
125 La Salle Street

· Cuisine: Italian

Openings Archive

Week of December 31
Jefferson, Peep
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and more ...

Photos (from top to bottom):Kenneth Chen, Bruce Katz, and Patrik Rytikangas.

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