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Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of June 16, 2003

Cross an Irish publican and a Greek-American restaurateur, and what do you get? Ulysses’, a sprawling new pub and extension of the financial-district fiefdom that encompasses Bayard’s, Financier Patisserie, and Harry’s at Hanover Square. Peter Poulakakos (son of Harry) and partner Danny McDonald have equipped a onetime banquet room with a profusion of County Clare sandstone, wooden ceiling beams, and a 130-foot bar. That’s where McDonald will demonstrate the award-winning Guinness-pulling technique he honed at Puck Fair and Swift’s Hibernian Lounge, both of which he co-owns. Bayard’s chef Eric Lind oversees the cafeteria-style carvery and raw bar. And to make Wall Street more accessible—or just to facilitate pub crawls—free shuttle buses transport customers between Ulysses’ and McDonald’s other establishments.
58 Stone Street

Zerza Bar
The sign outside Zerza Bar attracts attention first because it proclaims in huge letters CASABLANCA MEETS NEW YORK CITY ON 6TH STREET, and second because that’s the last place you’d expect that cross-cultural encounter to take place. Owner Radouane Eljaouhari was undaunted by the prospect of running the only non-Indian restaurant on the block.“It changes the flavor of 6th Street,” he says of his triple-tiered space outfitted with Moroccan tiled tables, a cozy lounge, and walls painted a distinctive Marrakech red. Eljaouhari’s day job in guest relations at the Plaza has prepared him well for the demanding life of a New York restaurateur, and probably accounts for his crowd-pleasing decision to broaden the menu, placing Mediterranean meze like Greek saganaki and Israeli spinach-and-feta bourekas alongside the traditional tagines and couscous. A North African flavor still predominates, especially in the evocative remixes of Middle Eastern music Eljaouhari brought back from Paris, the mint tea he pours with the meze, and the spit-roasted lamb he plans to start serving for brunch. And then there’s Saturday night’s belly dancer—as strong a statement as the sign outside.
304 East 6th Street

Pepe Rosso
This endearingly uncompromising Italian chain began in Soho and spread its “no Diet Coke, no skim milk” doctrine all over town. This week, the newest branch brings its signature focaccia sandwiches and great pastas to the food court at Grand Central Terminal, where commuters will also find breakfast frittate and gelati.
Dining Concourse
Grand Central Terminal

The owner and chef of Fresh expand their Tribecan piscine pursuits with this casual oyster bar and tavern (formerly Rosie’s). Whitewashed and wooden-beamed, the barroom’s decorated with photos of coastal New England, and the menu reinforces the nautical theme: Choose among oysters and littlenecks, clam rolls and finnan haddie, and a slew of baked, stuffed, and batter-fried seafood.
41 Murray St.

best of the week

The Cafeteria at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Displaced to the basement to make room for a new Roman-sculpture court, the cultural cafeteria’s new location features vaulted ceilings, contemporary furnishings, and chef Jayson Brown, fresh from catering to the Condé Nast cafeteria’s finicky hordes. Here, he presides over self-service stations for pasta, pizza, salads, and sandwiches meant to appeal to a multicultural clientele of art lovers and devotees of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. •
1000 Fifth Ave., at 82nd St.

object of desire

Down East Update

Forget top-loading versus side-loading: In a break with New England lobster-roll tradition, Mermaid Inn chef Michael Price challenges hot-dog-bun hegemony by serving his lusciously meaty, relatively lightly mayoed lobster salad on a round, butter-toasted brioche bun. Served with fries and—gasp!—cut in half like any other sandwich, it’s daringly just this side of unwieldy.
Mermaid Inn
96 Second Avenue

Like Buttah
For years, Coach Farm has catered to the cholesterol-phobic with its delicious sideline of low-fat fromage. Now, though, perhaps inspired by fat’s newfound good reputation, the Hudson Valley cheese-maker has launched a new product at the other end of the dietary spectrum. Coach Farm triple cream goat cheese, the company’s first new product in about eighteen years, boasts a remarkable 75 percent butterfat content and a buttery-smooth texture and earthy goat’s-milk flavor. Ironically, Coach’s triple cream is the serendipitous result of making low-fat logs: the skimmed cream by-product is poured back into regular curds for an exceptionally unctuous effect. Mario Batali, lucky enough to marry into the Coach Farm family, showcases the cheese at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, where it’s served with razor-thin ribbons of rhubarb in syrup and a pinch of thyme-tinged sea salt. Also available at Fairway.
Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 Fifth Avenue



Cookies ’n’ Cream
Pastry chef Karen DeMasco already supplies her sandwich-crazed boss, Tom Colicchio, with cinnamony coffee cake, buttery blueberry scones, and luscious lemon bars for Craft’s soup-and-sandwich spinoff, ’Wichcraft. Now she’s really getting into the act, with these delectable ice-cream sandwiches. For maximum enjoyment, try to let them warm up a bit before you devour them.
49 East 19th Street


Ask Gael
Shall I run with the bulls at Dos Caminos Soho?
Even before the margaritas kick in, our savvy posse is impressed by just-smashed guacamole (we like ours torrid), lush shrimp-lobster tacos, and an elegant play of citrus and sweet in all three seviches—red-snapper-scallop tickled with spicy mango and passion fruit, the lime-cilantro-marinated Gulf shrimp, and sensational tuna with avocado. Indeed, starters at the crowded Dos Caminos Soho, especially the complex chopped salad and a brilliant toss of sautéed and fried calamari with chorizo, are more thrilling than bland Chilean sea bass, or even fine seared tuna—though the sweet, smoky ribs with black-bean chili is quickly ravaged, and I’d want dos enchiladas if only for that remarkable mole. The amiable servers are trained by the Book of Hanson (my longtime pal, I confess). Luring pastry master Wayne Harley Brachman aboard could mean a shot of good old American excess in the Mexican theme here. So far, the triumph is his fruit seviche with retro sherbets.
Dos Caminos SoHo
475 West Broadway

In the Archives

June 9, 2003
Kitsch, Ida Mae Kitchen-n-Lounge, Summit Restaurant and Lounge, Westville; Chocolate Bar's sweet treats; Monkey Bar's great steak.

June 2, 2003
SheepMeadow Cafe, Alma Blu, Ruth Chris Steakhouse; Rocco DiSpirito Q&A, Sidecar at P.J. Clarke's; new Sullivan Street Bakery pizza.

May 26, 2003
Max Cafe, Flatiron Lounge, Eleven Madison Park Hotdog Cart; Aigo; Morrells Restaurant's Friulian pancakes; Fauchon's summer sorbets; Gael is Amuse'd.

More Openings & Buzz

Photos: Carina Salvi, Patrik Rytikangas (2, 6), Ellie Miller (3, 5), Kenneth Chen.

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