Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of April 21, 2003

After nine years of flipping dough in Forest Hills and Rockville Centre, Nick Angelis, the “Nick” in Nick’s Pizza and one uncompromising pieman who really deserves a “Famous” and an “Original” before his name, has entered the Manhattan pizza fray. Supplementing the expertly charred pies and calzones at the new Upper East Side Nick’s is a full menu of well-executed pastas and entrées, like orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, chicken pizzaiola, and an estimable eggplant Parmigiana. Not to be missed are Nick’s cannoli—an ethereally light, delicious weapon in the raging pizza wars.
1814 Second Avenue, at 94th Street

Morrells Restaurant
The Morrell Wine Bar & Café only whetted the appetites of its ambitious owners, who’ve taken their wine-and-food obsession to the next level—the 146-seat Morrells Restaurant, opening April 24 within spitting distance (so to speak) of Veritas’s stellar cellar. Like its Rockefeller Center sibling, the new Morrells offers 150 wines by the glass, cheese plates at the bar, and the wine-rich cooking of chef Michael Haimowitz. There’s Zinfandel ketchup on the burger, Pinot Noir syrup on the herb crêpes, and Riesling in the coq au vin, not to mention a flight of wine ice creams for dessert. There’s also a boutique stocked with corkscrews and other accessories, for the budding oenophile in all of us.
900 Broadway, near 20th Street

Nice Matin
Last seen recasting Arizona 206 as the Pan-Latino Bolivar, veteran chef Andy (Sign of the Dove) D’Amico reemerges on the Upper West Side this week at Nice Matin, named for the Provençal newspaper. (Partner Simon Oren, who owns Marseille in Hell’s Kitchen, seems to be cornering the coastal-French market.) D’Amico’s menu is well-priced for the neighborhood and the times, featuring a multitude of Riviera-inspired hors d’oeuvre like pissaladière and panisses. He continues the bold, garlic-imbued theme with soupe au pistou, fennel-cured mackerel, and roast cod with ratatouille niçoise and anchoïade.
201 West 79th Street

At Chubo, which means “professional kitchen” in Japanese, chef-owner Claude Chassagne takes a page from Charlie Palmer's menu book: He's brought the fifteen-item, budget-conscious prix-fixe formula Palmer popularized at Kitchen 22 down to Clinton Street. But Chassagne, who most recently worked at the Korean-inspired Remedy, gives his repertoire of five appetizers, five entrées, and five desserts more of a global spin. Duck strudel cloaked in phyllo comes with bok choy and umé sauce, and grilled kingfish swims in a Vietnamese-style broth. Wine and beer suggestions are listed next to the entrées, and, this being the Lower East Side, Chassagne undercuts Kitchen 22’s $25 tab by a dollar—or by $5, if you skip dessert.
6 Clinton Street

The new East Side Chinese restaurant Azáza might not be the first place of its kind to offer a complimentary Internet hookup with your meal. Nor is it the first to screen movies or, if all goes according to plan, entertain guests with weekly samba singing. It’s probably the first to daringly combine all three diversions, however, along with the moderately priced Cantonese cooking of chef Li, formerly of Dish of Salt. And in a true departure from Chinese-restaurant convention, Azáza has collaborated with downtown’s Original New York Milkshake Co. on a liquid dessert menu sure to beat canned litchis and stale fortune cookies.
891 First Avenue, at 50th Street

It’s no wonder that the teahouse Franchia fancies itself an oasis of calm in a turbulent world: it’s an offshoot of Hangawi, the serene Korean vegetarian spot whose owners have been nourishing bodies and soothing nerves for years. Their elegant new Murray Hill “shrine” is equipped with a tea bar; a vegetarian kitchen specializing in green-tea-flavored pancakes, noodles, and bread; and a mountain-temple-style traditional tearoom. If you manage to achieve enlightenment, you can take a little bit home with you—everything’s for sale, from the poetry-inscribed ceramic cups to the house wild green tea.
12 Park Avenue, near 34th Street


Ask Gael
Where shall I go when I’m homesick for Ohio?
The ad said FOR SALE—A COZY 30-SEAT GREENWICH VILLAGE RESTAURANT WITH A ROMANTIC GARDEN. David Page and Barbara Shinn didn’t resist. Still fresh and cozy ten years later, Home celebrates the same midwestern-style roasted chicken with amazingly greaseless fried onion rings and Grandma’s chocolate pudding with the same gentle prices. Back for the spring menu are rustic perennials like beef short ribs with watercress and horseradish, Verna’s old-fashioned simmered chicken with spring dumplings, and up-to-date seared sea scallops with mint-scented spring-vegetable stew. To celebrate the first harvest of their new Shinn Estates Vineyard on Long Island, the proud winemakers are offering guests prerelease tastes from the barrel every Wednesday and Thursday through May 15. And when the apples are good enough, there will be marvelous apple pie with a topping of sweet, buttery crumble.
20 Cornelia Street

In the Archives

April 14, 2003
Chennai Garden, Barking Dog, Kitchen 82; dessert tasting at Blue Hill; feastable lemon-meringue; Chef Rebecca Charles's new book; Patroon gets another wake-up call.

March 31, 2003
The Mermaid Inn, Ten Sushi, Rice to Riches, Scopello; backstage access at The Restaurant at Spotlight Studios; Dos Caminos Soho and Le Zoccole debut soon; grand dining at Capitale.

March 24, 2003
Pampano, Mexican Sandwich Company, Hacienda de Argentina, Heartland Brewery; Grace foods go to Brooklyn; Rocco DiSpirito's new Tuscan.

More Openings & Buzz

Photos: Tina Rupp (1, 3), Carina Salvi (2, 4, 6), Patrik Rytikangas (5), Kenneth Chen (7).