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 Restaurants
Restaurant Openings & Buzz
EDITED BY ROB PATRONITE AND ROBIN RAISFELD
Week of March 10, 2003
 
best of the week


Molyvos Lenten Specials

On the Greek island of Crete, the last night before Lent culminates with "carnival pie"— a pastry crust packed with pork and chicken livers, rice, nuts, and seasonings. It makes a rare New York appearance on March 11, preceding this superb Greek restaurant's 40 days of meatless specials.
Molyvos
871 Seventh Avenue
Between 55th and 56th Streets
To reserve, call 212-582-7500


 
openings


Kudo Beans

When New York became Starbucks Central, neighborhood delis lost serious caffeinated ground to the dark-roasted, fresh-brewed competition. A company called Kudo Beans leapt into the breach, marketing greengrocers a better grade of java from Dallis Bros., the venerable Ozone Park roaster that also supplies Babbo and Aquavit. Last week, Kudo opened a spiffy East Village coffee shop of its own, where a dizzying selection of 28 estate-grown blends (including a super-dark roast called Burnt Ember, catering to fans of that West Coast monolith, no doubt) are fastidiously ground and French-pressed to order. Wisely resisting the urge to put all its beans in one filter basket, Kudo also serves loose-leaf tea, gelato, hefty panini and wrap sandwiches, and—to start ’em young, we presume—a kids’ menu.
49 1/2 First Avenue
212-353-1477


Flaco's Taco & Tequila Co.
With a restaurant empire that extends from City Crab to Chat ’n Chew, the indefatigable Andrew Silverman always seems to have room for one more culinary concept. Last spring, he opened the festive, margarita-fueled Chango; this month, with partner Dean Palin, he plans to advance the south-of-the-border theme with Flaco’s Taco & Tequila Co., an equally colorful cantina. In Spanish, flaco means skinny, but don’t get any ideas: Mahimahi tacos and whole grilled fish seem harmless enough, but should the urge strike, you can always go the gut-busting route with chorizo flautas, burgers and fries, and pork mole poblano with barbecued yams.
470 Sixth Avenue
212-243-8226

Baldo Vino
With more budget trattorias and enotecas per square inch than any other New York neighborhood, the East Village has become New York’s real Little Italy: You can’t cross the street without tripping over a prosciutto panino. The theme at this atmospheric newcomer is wine (isn’t it always?) and wine-friendly morsels like bruschette, platters of meat and cheese, and fried ricotta balls with tomato-eggplant cream.
126 East 7th Street
212-979-0319

Sage
The Pan-Asian hot spot formerly known as TanDa has lost the laksa and gone resolutely French-American, with a new raw bar and an emphasis on bistro staples like steak au poivre and roast chicken. The unabashed presence of bacon cheeseburgers, sour-cream-stuffed spuds, and creamed spinach is incontrovertible proof the kitchen has succumbed to the comfort-food craze.
331 Park Avenue South, near 24th St.
212-253-8400

 

 
the underground gourmet

Made to Measure

Pie, a new East Village pizzeria, is as far removed from a neighborhood slice joint as it can get. First of all, there’s the décor: modern, minimalist, more Nolita boutique than Do the Right Thing. Second, the crisp, thin-crust pizza isn’t round but oblong, resembling a tasty-looking skateboard, and the 27 toppings run the gamut from potato-ricotta-and-walnut to bacon-and-egg (weekends only). But most distinctive is the ordering procedure. You pick a pizza that looks good, and then, as if you were in a cheese shop, you tell the fetching counterperson how big a piece you want, or—like a fisherman describing the one that got away—you gauge the size with your hands. The counterperson snips it off, weighs it, and charges you $5 to $9 per pound depending on the topping. The brainchild of Jeffrey Reiss, an admitted “pizza addict” whose inspiration was “a little bit Rome, where pizza is sold by the pound in some places,” but mostly New York, where “I could never find a clean, modern, friendly pizzeria.” For homebound pizza addicts, Pie also delivers smaller oblong pizzas—shoehorned into square boxes. — ROB PATRONITE
Pie
124 Fourth Avenue
212-475-4977
 
object of desire


Green Day

It isn’t green like that beer preferred by so many Saint Patrick’s Day quaffers, but Beacon’s new Irish Sage cocktail is worth celebrating. The influence of chef Waldy Malouf—who apparently doesn’t spend all his time in front of the fire pit—shows in the julep-style mix of Jameson Irish whiskey, Irish Mist liqueur, lemon and orange juices, and, especially, fresh sage, an inspired, equally verdant substitute for mint.
Beacon
25 West 56th Street
212-332-0500

White Heat
Admittedly, it isn’t bursting at the seams, but into our great-moments-in-white-chocolate-history file (a list that includes Todd English’s bread pudding, Maury Rubin’s double-chocolate cookies with white-chocolate chunks, and Aldo’s biscotti) goes a new discovery: Gotham Bar and Grill’s hot white chocolate. Pastry chef Deborah Racicot, formerly of Aquavit and Picholine, subtly spikes this not-too-sweet concoction with cardamom and lemongrass and enough other herbs and spices to stock a shelf at Kalustyan’s. In a playful twist, what looks like an accompanying plate of truffles turns out to be milk-chocolate-flavored marshmallows.
Gotham Bar and Grill
12 East 12th Street
212-620-4020

 
 

Ask Gael
Whose Indian food really stands out?
Let Jaipur-born chef Hemant Mathur deliver Diwan’s amazing new $50 tasting menu for a nirvana that would be tough to orchestrate on your own. Plate after plate arrives, with many mini-rounds of flavored breads along the way: bhel puri (a crunchy Bombay street food) to start. Suvir’s crab beggar’s purses and Goan shrimp balchao with fresh tomato chutney come next. Grilled tandoori shrimp and juicy chicken (two ways) follow (I ask for dark meat). The Manchurian cauliflower, an Indo-Chinese dish, and crispy-okra salad taste new to me. Venison and lamb emerge rare from the tandoori with curry-leaf potatoes. I like cucumber-mint yogurt raita on mine. Biryani might seem redundant at this point—but just taste. Save strength to try chai pots de crème, kulfi with citrus soup, or tangy fruit sorbet.
Diwan
148 East 48th Street
212-593-5425


In the Archives

March 3, 2003
Bill Devin Benefit at Fairway Steakhouse; OLA, The Green Table, Re Sette, and Maria's Mexican Bistro open; Gael visits Django.

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: Tina Rupp (First & Last), Kenneth Chen (2nd & 4th), Ellie Miller (3rd & 5th).

 
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