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Week of November 19, 2001

Café Sabarsky
As any bleary-eyed tourist knows, art appreciation requires intense concentration, a riveting audio guide, and an espresso or two. Now, with the opening of Café Sabarsky at Ronald Lauder's Neue Galerie New York, fatigued Museum Milers can caffeinate up after viewing the Klimts and Kokoschkas upstairs. Lauder recruited Wallsé's Kurt Gutenbrunner (pictured) to run the Viennese-style kaffeehaus, and the Austrian chef is clearly in his element-an elegant room furnished with reproductions of Josef Hoffmann sconces, Adolf Loos bentwood chairs, and Otto Wagner fabrics. Besides the coffee and tortes (Sacher and linzer), there's Bavarian ham with horseradish for breakfast, goulash and strudel for lunch, and chamber music on Sunday afternoons.
1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street
 Cuisine: Café/ Espresso Bar


Market 17
Like City Bakery, its predecessor in this narrow Union Square storefront, Market 17 aims to make the most of its proximity to the Greenmarket. Chef-partner Matthew Scully (pictured) plans to incorporate local produce in his thin-crusted pizzas, flatbread wraps, pressed focaccia sandwiches, and juice-and-smoothie bar. But a rustic redesign of the once minimalist space, featuring upended logs and 140-year-old barnwood, helps the new takeout kid on the block establish its own identity.

22 East 17th Street
 Cuisine: Café/ Sandwiches


Selecting a glistening Arctic char or black sea bass from an icy fish-market display is almost as satisfying as reeling it in yourself, as diners at Milos, Avra, and Trata have discovered. This week, chef Peter Spyropoulos (pictured) brings the point-and-cook concept to the Upper West Side, where he's opened Thias (Greek for "Zeus"). Besides offering the charcoal-grilled seafood, priced per pound, and the full complement of hot and cold mezedes and Greek salads, he has nightly specials like rabbit stifado and lamb fricassee, a Sunday Greek-style brunch, and a kids' menu. The downstairs ouzeria, though, is adults only.
103 West 77th Street

 Cuisine: Greek/ Seafood

Better Burger
Who would have thought that Louis Lanza, chef-owner of Josie's, the quasi-vegetarian restaurant with branches on the Upper West Side and in Murray Hill, has long harbored a secret desire to become the next Ray Kroc-even a kinder, gentler, health-conscious Kroc? After two and a half years of research, taste-testing, and looking for the perfect seaweed base for his shakes, he's opened Better Burger, a snappy fast-food stand adjacent to the East Side Josie's. The juicy, quarter-pound certified free-range beef, chicken, or turkey burgers are cooked 24 at a time in a fat-draining contraption that resembles a giant version of George Foreman's grill, while tuna, soy, and veggie versions are pan-seared. Likewise, crispy, crinkly French fries are almost virtuous, spritzed with olive oil and baked, not fried, and the thick shakes are concocted from soy or powdered organic milk. Even the custom-blended condiments are organic. And unlike Kroc, Lanza is up-front about his "own Thousand Island-style special sauce": It's made from Muir Glen tomatoes and Vegannaise.
565 Third Avenue, at 37th Street
 Cuisine: Burgers

Downtown's two-year-old trattoria La Nonna ("grandmother" in Italian) has changed its name to Nipotino ("grandson"), but that doesn't mean Granny was the victim of a kitchen coup. Owner Massimo Felici has given his restaurant a fresh coat of paint, added artwork by local second-graders (pictured, with pizza), updated the menu, and lowered prices but kept the maternal approach to Tuscan country cooking, not to mention the pizza della Nonna.
133-135 West 13th Street
 Cuisine: Italian


Looking Ahead...


Marseilles, 630 Ninth Ave. at 44th St., 212-333-2323
Set-up: Two-story, 4000 square-foot space designed in 1940's French-Moroccan style with zinc bar and ebonized mahogany accents.
Cuisine: French/Mediterranean
Chef: Alex Urena (Blue Hill)
Owner: Simon Oren (Sushi Samba, L' Express, Maritime)

Blue Fin,
Set-up: Situated in the highly-anticipated W Times Square Hotel, this 400-seater will have a floating staircase connecting its two levels and a view of the Great White Way.
Cuisine: Seafood
Chef: Paul Sale (Icon at W Court Hotel)
Owner: Stephen "BR Guest" Hanson (Isabella's, Atlantic Grill)

January, 2002

Suba, 109 Ludlow St., 212-982-5714
Set-up: Subterreanean, multi-level grotto with moat, underwater lamps, and floor-to-ceiling glass-paneled doors. Designed by Andre Kikoski.
Chef: Stephane Bucholzer (L'Actuel)
Owners: Yann De Rochefort and Phillip Morgan

Fiamma, 206 Spring St., 212-653-0100
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)
Owner: Stephen "BR Guest" Hanson (Blue Water Grill, Park Avalon, Ruby Foo's)

April, 2002

Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th St.
Set-up: Jazz joint with a built-in barbecue pit at former 27 Standard space.
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 November 12
Deborah — Life Love Food, Pigalle, Jean-Luc, @SQC
Week of November 5
Across the Street, Mezz@Town
Week of October 29
Commissary, Papillon
Week of October 22
The Harrison, The Minnow

and more ...

Photos: Patrik Rytikangas.
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