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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of Dec. 6, 2004: Jewel Bako Robata, Poetessa, WaWa Canteen, De Marco's Pizzeria and Restaurant, and Lo Scalco. Plus, an irresistible Italian pastry and consistently great espresso.

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Openings
Jewel Bako Robata
Some restaurateurs just don’t know when to stop. Lucky for us, Jack and Grace Lamb are two of them. Jewel Bako Robata, an annex of their rarefied sushi hut, Jewel Bako proper—which doubles its seating in January— is the latest evidence of the couple’s quest to completely gourmandize the stretch of East 5th Street between Second and Third avenues. Robata, which opens December 11, is a 22-seat black-walnut bar inspired by the Japanese art of grilling food—in this typically Lambian, hyper-refined case, whole blue parrot snapper, sea urchin in its shell, kurobuta pork chops, and a 22-ounce Kobe porterhouse.
239 E. 5th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-979-1012


Poetessa
Pippa Calland studied poetry in college, which was ample excuse for her new bosses to rename their East Village trattoria, formerly known as East Post. To drive the theme home, verses are scrawled on the walls, and Calland, who used to cook at Le Madri, takes poetic license of a sort on her newly conceived regional Italian menu. Her prosciutto “da NYC” is made from Berkshire pork, and served with young pecorino Toscano and fig mostarda; gnocchi is lavished with Amarone-braised “wild bird” ragù; and black “little tongue” (linguine) is embellished with squid, cherry-tomato confit, and hot chilies.
92 Second Ave., nr. 5th St.; 212-387-0065


Lo Scalco
During the decade Mauro Mafrici has lived and worked in New York, he’s cooked at Felidia and I Trulli—two restaurants strongly identified with resident Italian mamas. Liberated from the Istrian influence of Lidia Bastianich and the Apulian pastas of Dora Marzovilla, Mafrici is poised to make his own mark at Lo Scalco, the restaurant he opens this week with his wife, Kimberly, who designed it. Mafrici’s highly seasonal menu is organized by ingredient rather than by course, and for the full effect, Mafrici and his chef, Rudy Mihal (pictured, far left), encourage diners to opt for one of three tasting menus, which range in price from $48 to $64 and can be tailored to suit individual preferences. Considering that Lo Scalco is a Renaissance-era term for “the perfect host,” we’d expect nothing less.
313 Church St., nr. Walker St.; 212-343-2900

WaWa Canteen
Disillusioned by New York nightlife bureaucracy and inspired by the idea of high-quality Asian fast food, former Baktun owner Philip Rodrigue has opened a sleekly designed shop specializing in Korean soups, stews, and bibimbop, as well as Japanese-accented salads and appetizers.
289 Mercer St., nr. Waverly Pl.; 212-473-6162

De Marco’s Pizzeria and Restaurant
Blood feuds, bitter betrayals, threatened lawsuits, mocking accusations that the competition uses crappy mozzarella—just a day in the life of a successful New York pizzeria. So it didn’t worry us when we heard that plans to open a more-or-less affiliated Manhattan outpost of the legendary Brooklyn slice joint Di Fara had been stymied. This week, after some bickering about the name, De Marco’s Pizzeria and Restaurant opens, and pizza connoisseurs all over the city hold their breath.
146 W. Houston, at Macdougal St.; 212-253-2290



Take Out
Slow Food
Sullivan Street Bakery’s irresistible new lumaca (Italian for snail, in case you didn’t know) may look like a rugalach that’s been run over by a bike messenger, but it tastes a lot better than that. Layered with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, raisins, and apricot jam, and possessing a slightly caramelized palmier-like dough, it could easily pass muster on your bubbe’s Hanukkah table.
Sullivan Street Bakery
73 Sullivan St., nr. Spring St.; 212-334-9435
533 W. 47th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-265-5580



Object of Desire
Foam Home
You wouldn’t expect to find consistently great espresso in East Peoria, but why that’s true of New York is a bit of a mystery. Sicaffé, a suave Italian chain with two Manhattan branches, offers a glimmer of hope. The signature espresso drink, the cappuccino Triestino, is close to the ideal—a syrupy shot of rich espresso, a righteous tuft of silky foam—and all the sweet, bitter, smooth components are as well balanced as a Cirque du Soleil tightrope artist.
Sicaffé
964 Lexington Ave., nr. 70th St.; 212-452-2250
29 John St., nr. Nassau St.; 212-676-0237


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