For the past four years, Naidre Miller has run what she considers the consummate neighborhood café, dispensing breakfast burritos, homemade granola, salads and vegetarian sandwiches, and Hudson Valley–roasted coffee to Starbucks-snubbing South Slopers. Now she’s hopped across the Gowanus canal to open a bigger branch of Naidre’s in the Carroll Gardens storefront that once housed Cammareri’s (the bakery of Moonstruck fame). The stroller set has already discovered the place, but Miller’s aiming for a broader demographic: A wine-and-beer license is in the works.
502 Henry Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Rêve It Up
No wonder Marathon Man P. Diddy had such a tough time crossing the finish line: His onetime personal chef, the talented Renaud LeRasle, who also headed the kitchen at the late Russian Tea Room, must have fattened him up. At Rêve, LeRasle’s new gig, he lightens up a little with Asian-inflected French dishes like a cool lobster salad accoutred with yuzu jelly and summer melon, an heirloom-tomato salad with a soybean emulsion and Thai basil, and a luscious honey-miso-marinated roast duck with corn pancakes and a crisp duck-confit dumpling.
1347 Second Avenue, at 71st Street
People make real-estate deals for lots of reasons; stymieing Subway isn’t usually one of them. But when Bar Veloce’s Frederick Twomey heard the chain was nosing around next door, he and his partners grabbed the former Taylor’s space and transformed it into Monkey Royale, a funky espresso bar furnished with simian-patterned wallpaper, Bianchi-blue countertops, and a vintage pinball machine graciously donated by Veloce regular Wylie Dufresne. Twomey brushed up on espresso protocol at Illy’s headquarters in Trieste, and was equally fastidious about sourcing his miniature doughnuts, made by a Queens couple from an 80-year-old recipe and, until now, delivered exclusively to the Today show’s greenroom and the Food Network set of Roker on the Road.
175 Second Avenue
Cacio E Pepe
Named for the Roman pasta dressed simply but satisfyingly with pecorino and pepper, this friendly East Village newcomer puts its own spin on a familiar genre with dishes like lamb liver, monkfish saltimbocca, and lentil tart for dessert. There’s a garden out back, and inside, an even rarer find: plenty of space between tables.
182 Second Ave
To chickpea connoisseurs, making hummus is a fine art, one they seem to have mastered at this sliver of an East Village storefront where the single-minded menu consists of three thick versions of the Middle Eastern spread, accessorized with puffy pita, pickles, and hot sauce.
109 St. Marks Pl
Let Them Eat Penne
They say that when God (a.k.a. Mario Batali) closes one oven door, he always opens a kitchen window, or vice versa. And so it goes at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, where, having held out on his pasta-crazed fans for months in order to remain true to his vision of what a proper Italian-train-station-inspired joint like this should serve, Batali has begun dishing up the linguine. Alas, to make room for the pasta cooker, the fry station has been displaced. We’ll certainly miss Monday night’s fried calzone, but the seven classic pastas ($9 each), including a rich penne alla Norma, a good spaghetti carbonara, and a deeply satisfying trenette alla genovese (pictured), more than compensate.
1 Fifth Avenue
Objects Of Desire
Having mastered just about the entire great American dessert repertoire, Craft pastry chef Karen DeMasco is brazenly encroaching upon Baskin-Robbins’s turf with Craftbar’s superb new black-and-white malted. Aside from kiln-drying and grinding her own malt, she makes everything from scratch, from the cocoa-nib and vanilla ice creams to the chocolate sauce and the whipped cream. And her soda-fountain fantasies don’t stop there. Still in the experimental stages: a strawberry shake, a hot-fudge sundae with black-mint ice cream, and a root-beer float.
47 East 19th Street
Share the Wealth
Feeling selfish? One new restaurant gives gluttons a bad name.
As the small-plate trend continues to gather steam, it’s increasingly reflected not only on menus but in restaurant names. First came the self-explanatory Tasting Room; then, in the entreating tone of Jewish and Italian mothers everywhere, Taste and Sample; and now, in a minuscule East Village basement, the two-month-old Share, which has the unfortunate ring of a kindergarten teacher’s command. Sharing, as it turns out, is strictly optional—two plates a person, suggests the polished young staff—but you might not want to surrender even a bite of the rich, creamy lobster risotto, studded with sweet peas and chanterelles, or the dainty, refreshing herb salad with manchego shards and (too few) fava beans. If the nominally French-American, trend-conscious menu reads like a food editor put it together, that’s because one did. Chef Kay Chun used to work at Real Simple, and she knows what it takes to hook the sophisticated dining public: a seasonal slant, the obligatory offal (sweetbreads and bone marrow), and artisanal American cheeses, preferably from California’s Cowgirl Creamery. Chun may not be the first chef to showcase a hunk of fresh bacon in all its crisp, fat-layered glory, but she savvily pairs it with unctuous lentils and fried leeks, and her fritto misto of monkfish and calamari has a delicate, tempura-like crunch that might engender a whole new wave of restaurant names. “Hoard” comes to mind.
406 East 9th Street
I’m in the Hamptons and need a reality check.
Crank down a few decibels with lunch at The Fish Farm. Get Marie Valenti to dish up her marvelous, peppery swordfish chili (a pint is perfect for two) and a couple of honest lobster rolls, barely mayo’d and sporting a big chunk of tail meat on top. Coleslaw is a must. Potato purée and just a dab of cream thicken the New England clam chowder and the lobster bisque. Marie cooks salmon farmed or wild, served with local corn. A crab cake on a bun is skinny but full of crabmeat. Husband Bob does the Key-lime tart. Thirty years ago, the Valentis came here to raise pan-size striped bass. “But no one was eating whole fish back then,” she says. They switched to stocking local lobsters and fish, then started cooking eight years ago. Pick up to go, or settle at an umbrella’d picnic table overlooking the water. BYOB if you wish. You’ll forget you ever heard of the Hamptons. Noon to 7:30.
429 Cranberry Hole Road, Amagansett