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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of Oct. 18, 2004: Gelotto, Sukhadia's, Ono, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, and Harlem Vintage. Plus, Gael Greene follows her favorite Indian guru and a rich new sheep's-milk yogurt.

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Openings
Ono
With Rocco’s behind him, Jeffrey Chodorow moves on to his next high-profile restaurant—this one opening October 22 in the Gansevoort Hotel, the mobbed heart of the meatpacking district. The Japanese menu specializes in robatayaki, food traditionally cooked over an open charcoal flame and served on paddles, but here everything from Kobe beef and foie gras to uni-basted king crab legs is cooked over gas and threaded on bamboo skewers. There’s also topped sushi like the Battleship—rice wrapped with seaweed and garnished with salmon roe and raw egg. The design, in customary Chodorow fashion, is meant to foster meeting and aggressive mingling, and, of course, even the furniture is suggestive: a communal table, four twelve-person cabanas, and two beds.
18 Ninth Ave.; 212-660-6766


Gelotto
Counterintuitive as it might seem to roll out an ice-cream cart in October, Mario Batali had no choice. It took a never-say-die attitude, the improvisatory skills of an Iron Chef, and exactly one year and a quarter to maneuver the city’s street-vendor hoop-jumping apparatus, which is why his gelato cart has only just materialized on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park. “It’s much easier to open a restaurant,” gripes Batali, who nevertheless will keep scooping $4 cups until mid-November, weather permitting, but look for the cart again in April.
Cart at Washington Square Park


Sukhadia’s
Founded in Gujarat in 1890, Sukhadia’s has established an aggressive Web and retail presence selling the broad spectrum of colorful, calorific mithai, or Indian sweetmeats, that put even Eastertime Veniero’s to shame—confections like almond-pistachio rolls, carrot halva, and the fudgelike but unfortunately named barfi, savvily marketed as Father’s Day specials and executive gift baskets. Like its precursors in New Jersey and Chicago, the first Manhattan location functions as both sweet shop and vegetarian restaurant, with a hot lunch buffet and a small chat station serving cold yogurt-and-chutney-laced snacks.
17 W. 45th St.; 212-395-7300

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
The star chefs have been hogging the Time Warner Center spotlight, but this week, with the grand opening of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a new culinary collaboration makes its debut. Two local caterers, Great Performances and Harlem’s Spoonbread, team up on a down-home menu (chicken and ribs, black-eyed-pea fritters and yams) that makes meeting the $10 table minimum a snap.
33 W. 60th St.; 212-258-9595

Harlem Vintage
Billing itself as the neighborhood’s first “boutique vintner,” Harlem Vintage has tailored its mission and its inventory to the community, with themed seminars on pairing wines with soul food and a selection of bottles from African-American producers. The user-friendly layout organizes bottles by grape varietal instead of region—a guaranteed time-saver when you’re looking for that oaky Chardonnay or that big Cab.
2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd., nr. 120th St.; 212-866-9463



Object Of Desire
Karen Weinberg of 3-Corner Field Farm introduced scores of Greenmarket shoppers to her succulent pasture-raised lamb the old-fashioned way—by offering samples, often as the featured ingredient in a warming stew. When she started selling her rich, creamy sheep’s-milk yogurt last month, she came up with a similarly irresistible marketing strategy: offering tastes tantalizingly drizzled with maple syrup from a neighboring farm. The yogurt, in either its plain or maple-flavored permutations, is as great for breakfast as it is for dessert.
Wednesdays at Union Square; Saturdays at Washington Market Park in Tribeca at Greenwich between Chambers and Duane streets


Ask Gael
I see your favorite Indian guru’s on the move again.
Privately, I worried that Suvir Saran, peppering his way around town so nimbly as a consultant to Indian kitchens, might have exhausted his tricks. How naïve of me. Clearly, Saran (a pal whose name opened doors for me all over India) and his highly skilled partner, veteran Hemant Mathur, saved their most refined and adventurous cooking for romantic, swathed-in-silk Devi. Don’t strain your brain. Do the $55 tasting (with or without wine choices by Joshua Wesson), and revel in perfect-size portions of scallop and Manchurian cauliflower with surprisingly spicy bitter-orange marmalade, followed by tandoor-grilled prawns alongside eggplant pickle and that crisp okra salad I never get enough of. Cinnamon is the surprise accent in bits of liver, sautéed with onion and tomato on bruschetta. Brains, laced with green chilies and topped with quail egg, will thrill the adventurous. And small rice-lentil cakes (idlis) with curry and coconut and tomato chutneys should not be for vegetarians alone. Pineapple three ways with pineapple-cilantro granita is just one flight from dessert cliché by Mathur’s wife, Surbhi Sahni. She also elevates Falooda noodles from street-food sweet to a must for tapioca freaks.
8 East 18th Street; 212-691-1300


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