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Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of March 3, 2003
best of the week

Bill Devin Benefit at Fairway Steakhouse

Cheese hero Steven Jenkins hosts this culinary happening, featuring high-end foodstuffs, bottomless glasses of wine, and crackling foodie patter. Profits from the sale of tickets ($100 each) will go to the family of the late Bill Devin, pioneer of unsung Catalan wines.
March 10 at 7:30.
Fairway Steakhouse
74th St. and Broadway
To reserve, call 917-862-6996



Never trust a skinny chef—that’s our motto. But we’ll make an exception for seviche king Douglas Rodriguez. We haven’t seen him in person lately, so we can’t attest to his svelteness, but we hear he’s on a low-carb diet. He’s sharing some of the secrets of his regimen at OLA, his brightly designed new midtown restaurant, in a menu that includes a “pure protein” section and low-carb dishes indicated by asterisks, as well as signature tapas and seviches from his former kitchens at Pipa and Chicama. We’re not giving up starch, but if you’re committed to the Atkins plan, we can’t think of a better way to go than Nuevo Latino meatballs in a spicy foie gras sauce and crispy Cuban pork with oregano-lime mojo.
304 East 48th Street

Re Sette
Before he became a restaurateur, Yagur Sheinman imported gold jewelry and diamonds, so it makes perfect sense that he’d choose a diamond-district locale for his fine-dining debut. Re Sette’s vaguely Gothic décor features elaborate candelabras and a 26-foot-long “king’s table” on the mezzanine (re sette is Italian for “seven kings”). Chef Alessandro Sacchetti makes optimal use of his wood-burning brick oven with fig-and-Gorgonzola pizzas and Cornish game hens, and reprises his grandmother’s Sunday sauce, a braised-meat gravy. A trio of special-events promoters from the China Club hope to draw a late-night crowd with downtown D.J.’s, but they’ll have to compete with a singing waiter prone to impromptu arias.
7 West 45th Street


The Green Table
Unless they’re planning your wedding, caterers tend to fly under the culinary radar. One way some of the savvier firms combat anonymity is by opening a restaurant where the public can sample their wares. Great Performances spawned Mae Mae Café, Sage American Kitchen operates Café St. Bart’s, and now the Cleaver Co., famous for its homey potpies and sustainable-agriculture mind-set, has launched a café and wine bar adjacent to its Chelsea Market catering kitchen. The Green Table bills itself as New York’s only wine bar featuring organic food and drinks, including popcorn with ancho chili and orange salt, meat-loaf sandwiches, and Pinkus pilsner from Germany. A dozen wines are served by the elegant Spiegelau glass, and the menu—which quotes high organic priestess Alice Waters’s “Eating is a political act” manifesto—changes seasonally.
75 Ninth Avenue, at 15th Street


Maria's Mexican Bistro
When it came to naming his new restaurant, Maria’s Mexican Bistro, Nelson Nacipucha played it safe: Both his mother and his mother-in-law happen to be Marias. Along with prolific partner Armando Zumba—who co-owns Park Slope’s popular Los Pollitos rotisserie restaurants as well as Café Mexicana, a charming new four-stool source for excellent tamales and Mexican hot chocolate next door to Maria’s—Nacipucha’s out to refine the Mexican dining experience and lead Brooklynites out of taqueria territory and into Maria’s relatively swank surroundings. The gently priced, not strictly Mexican menu augments the familiar world of guacamole, enchiladas, and fajitas with green mussels steamed in a white-wine-chipotle broth, baked red snapper with roasted red peppers, and three takes on paella. Both moms should be proud.
669 Union Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn



Frozen Assets

When Il Laboratorio del Gelato opened on the Lower East Side last summer, ice-cream connoisseurs from every Zip Code trekked to Orchard Street for scoops of vibrantly flavored gelato and sorbet concocted by Jon Snyder, the creator of the Ciao Bella brand. Since then, the gelato’s worked its way onto dessert menus around town (like Mary’s Fish Camp and Pastis) and finally, as of this week, into gourmet-store freezers. Ten flavors, from the classic (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) to the creative (toasted almond, white chocolate), are available in snappy square eighteen-ounce tubs at Citarella (1250 Sixth Ave. at 49th St. 212-332-1599), Grace’s Marketplace (1237 Third Ave, 212-737-0600), and Tuller Premium Foods (199 Court Street, Brooklyn; 718-222-9933).

Ask Gael
Real food, please. Make it a little French.
Funny how a restaurant that the critics kind of like, or even love, shines for a while and then fades from the radar. I remember hearing raves for Django, but it’s far from my beaten track. I never got there till last week, when a foodnik pal said, “Let’s eat French.” What a delicious surprise. Chef Paul Zweben has the accent down pat. Except for banquettes so low we look like toddlers at table, the six of us, all notoriously fussy, are pleased. I’m not sure when I’ve had a better onion soup. A persnickety guest asks for her moules less cooked and her frites more cooked. Done. Fabulous frites. And we like the foie gras terrine with toast, and moules gitanes, too—with merguez sausage, sofrito, and saffron. Now everyone is passing tastes back and forth (minor chaos), but that means I can vouch for a fine bouillabaisse, crusty skate on a preserved-lemon polenta cake, and my guy’s steak au poivre—right up there with his favorite at Balthazar.
480 Lexington Avenue, at 46th Street

In the Archives

February 24, 2003
Bobby Flay takes up tapas at Bolo; Rocco DiSpirito ditches the steaks at Tuscan; and Orhan Yegen, formerly of Beyoglu, pops up at Efendi.

February 17, 2003
P.J. Clarke's finally reopens; rice ball mania hits the city; the debut of 36-92 and Parish & Co.; Gael goes Ouest.

Photos: Kenneth Chen (1 & 3), Carina Salvi (2 & 5), Ellie Miller.

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