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Week of August 6, 2001

Margherita Aloi, the former executive chef at Le Madri and one of Pino Luongo's original mail-order mammas (the trio of talented cooks Luongo recruited from the Italian hinterlands to open his restaurant twelve years ago), has resurfaced at the Flatiron District's spare but handsome new Arezzo. Aloi's unlikely partners are Christopher Mazzilli and Michael Reisman, the owners of the Gotham Comedy Club down the block, but their ambitious new venture is nothing to joke about. The menu, seasonally inspired and showcasing Aloi's signature fresh pastas, includes an uncommon salad of greens, lemon balm, violet leaves, and perfect tomatoes; "focaccina" halved and smeared with Robiola cheese, fresh spinach, and a touch of truffle oil; and a sensational dry-aged rib eye with herb-strewn Tuscan fries and tangy chopped dandelion.
46 West 22nd Street
 Cuisine: Italian

Lunettes et Chocolat
When you need new designer eyeglasses and crave imported chocolates -- or vice versa -- Lunettes et Chocolat, the multifaceted NoLIta boutique, is the ideal place to stock up on both. And this week co-owner Maribel Lieberman (pictured) opens a lush garden café out back with a small menu of sweet and savory crepes, corn arepas topped with seafood salad and melted truffle cheese, and the dark, soupy Belgian hot chocolate that's made the shop's Cacao Bar a neighborhood hangout.
25 Prince Street
 Cuisine: Cafe

Sherwood Cafe
Decanali has outfitted many of Manhattan's better-known French bistros, like Lucien and Casimir, but until recently he'd resisted the expat Frenchman's impulse to open one of his own. He caved in late June and christened the garden (pictured) of his Boerum Hill antiques shop Sherwood Cafe. Now he serves light French fare like the croque miss, an open-face poached-egg-and-ratatouille sandwich, and the Sherwood Special, a shareable charcuterie-and-cheese assortment presented on a handmade rustic board. Funky seating arrangements are fashioned from an antique tin bathtub, a barbershop chair, even a (well-scrubbed, we presume) carved bluestone Turkish toilet excavated from a French castle. "I propose for people to relax, take their shoes off, stay two hours," says Decanali -- and maybe drop $650 on a 1930 walnut buffet on the way out, too.
195 Smith Street, Brooklyn
 Cuisine: French
Looking Ahead...


Fiamma, 206 Spring St. (212) 653-0100
Opening Date: Early September
Set-up: Tri-level space in SoHo with exterior glass elevator and 130 seats
Cuisine: Italian
Chef: Michael White (formerly at the four-star Spiaggia in Chicago and chef di cucina at Ristorante San Domenico in Imola, Italy)
Owners: Stephen Hanson (Blue Water Grill, Park Avalon, Ruby Foo's)


The Harrison, 355 Greenwich St.
Opening Date: Early October
Set-up: Designer Mark Zeff creates a 100-seat dining room filled with wainscoting, handmade chandeliers, and a walnut bar. Nine French doors will open onto the street, with an additional 40 seats available for sidewalk dining.
Cuisine: Eclectic American
Chef: Joey Campanaro (protégé of Jonathan Waxman)
Owners: Jimmy Bradley and Danny Abrams (The Red Cat)

April, 2002

Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th Street
Opening Date: Spring, 2002
Set-up: Jazz joint with a built-in barbecue pit.
Cuisine: Barbecue
Chef: Pitmaster Kenny Callaghan (Sous Chef, Union Square Cafe)
Owners: Danny Meyer (Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Eleven Madison Park)


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Openings Archive
Week of July 30
Le Pain Quotidien, Danzón, Medi
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Mai-Lin, Fiorucci Fashion Cafe, Bread from Beirut
Week of July 16
Pizza 33, Thom
Week of July 9
Minotaur, Union Square Ballroom, Glass

and more ...

Photos: Carina Salvi, Patrik Rytikangas, Bruce Katz.
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