September 1, 2004
Eric Tevrow’s on a roll, and it’s stuffed with lobster. This week, the proprietor of wholesale fish purveyor Early Morning Seafood opens his third restaurant, and like its predecessors Fresh and Shore, Coast capitalizes on its owner’s oceanic access. But while Shore is a chowder house and Fresh a fine-dining seafood restaurant, Coast straddles the middle ground with a big bar and lounge, moderate prices, and a retail market selling fish and $12 takeout dinners to vastly underserviced financial-district residents desperate for good food. Chef Daniel Angerer obliges with seafood cocktails, oyster stew, golden trout grilled over sea-salted Nova Scotia birch wood, and pot-roasted walleye pike.
110 Liberty Street
Angon On The Sixth
Imagine an Italian-food legend—Felidia matriarch Lidia Bastianich, say—opening up to cooking on Mulberry Street. That’s not unlike what’s happened on Sixth Street’s infamous Indian restaurant row, where Indian-cooking phenomenon Begum Mina Azad (of Mina Foods & Restaurant) has set up shop, reprising the fare that won her a cult following in Queens.
320 E. Sixth St.
The Blue Mill
The new owners of this low-key, aggressively local joint revived the name of the landmark tavern that occupied the spot for half a century, and if they suspect you’re an Upper East Side interloper, you might not be eligible for the unofficial neighborhood discount on your cowboy steak or roasted duck. So claim a stool at the gorgeous Art Deco bar, cop a West Village attitude, and pretend you live up the quainter-than-quaint block.
50 Commerce St.
This exceedingly low-profile restaurant materialized, in the stealth opening of the summer, at the end of a nondescript Lower East Side alley unknown to even the most intrepid hipster. Persevere, and you’ll discover a taxidermist’s dream of a dining room, specialty cocktails, and a homespun American menu tinged with the occasional Anglo accent, like devils on horseback and summer pudding.
Freeman Alley, between the Bowery and Chrystie
Frankies 457 Court Street Spuntino
In Carroll Gardens, two big-time chefs make grandma proud.
How do two former high-flying chefs, both Italian-Americans named Frank who grew up together in the same Queens neighborhood, choose a name for their new Carroll Gardens bar and restaurant? They ask grandma, that’s how. Frank Falcinelli (at right, of Moomba fame) and Frank Castronovo (a Bouley grad, and former chef at Parish & Co.) came up with Frankies 457 Court Street Spuntino when Falcinelli told his grandmother Ann Martucci about the concept: a true neighborhood joint open from breakfast to late night, serving small plates like cured meats, vegetable antipasti, crudi, and sandwiches made on Sullivan Street Bakery bread. “Oh,” she said, “you’re making a spuntino”—Italian for snack or casual place to eat. The Franks took it from there, beautifully restoring the former social club and onetime smithy, giving it a romantic, tavernesque look (hand-blown globe lights, tin ceiling, mahogany bar, and a rear-window view of the el in the distance). In spirit—if not location—it’s miles away from the Smith Street fray, not to mention Moomba. “You can see my yearnings in building a place that’s so concrete,” says Falcinelli. “I wanted a sense of permanence and rootedness.”
457 Court Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
What to do with all those fresh veggies? Cook ’em to death.
It turns out that Mom’s approach to cooking vegetables beyond recognition was actually quite sophisticated—if not daringly ahead of its time. Some of our favorite chefs are now touting the joy of simmering, sweating, and sautéeing veggies to a point far south of al dente. 50 Carmine’s Sara Jenkins says a side dish of well-done artichokes, asparagus, and peas she had at the Spotted Pig rekindled an old taste memory: “I felt like I was eating at my neighbor’s in Italy,” where vegetables are typically cooked very soft. “I once made a dinner for a bunch of Italians at a winery,” she continues, “and they were like, ‘Everything was great, but the green beans were raw,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, yes, that was the French style.’ ” Inspired, Jenkins has begun serving a special of fried baccala with long-simmered Chinese long beans. Prune, however, takes the prize for the softest veggies—or at least, the most self-deprecating menu—with a side dish (pictured) described as “zucchini, potatoes, and beans, overcooked.” “It’s a very European peasant farmhouse sort of thing,” says sous chef Matt Hamilton.
54 East 1st Street
For the past four and a half years, Eran Hileli ran the Global Trance record and clothing shop in the East Village. “But the music industry slowed down because of the iPod,” he says, “and something in my energy needed to change.” He converted the shop into Holyland Market, a rare source for kosher meats, cheeses (pictured), and other hard-to-find Israeli imports like Milky pudding, Angel Bakery bourekas, and Bamba, a vitamin-fortified snack that tastes like peanut-butter Cheetos. According to Hileli, the shop’s a godsend for young Israeli immigrants, and a natural addition to a block already so crowded with Israeli-run businesses (Hummus Place, Cafe Mogador, Simone, Café Orlin, Yaffa Cafe), “we consider it Little Israel.”
122 St. Marks Place
What does it take to join the Kitchen Club?
Years ago, I alerted readers to the eccentric charm of the Kitchen Club on the “not-so-chic end” of Prince Street. Now it’s the torrid edge of Soho. There’s a new bar, as well as the tiny bar–holding pen with its own menu and a separate entrance. Born in Marja Samsom’s East Side catering kitchen when she was an ambitious illegal alien, the Club has its fervent regulars for whatever (often Japanese-inflected) whimsy the chef dreams up, especially tuna grilled rare with wasabi cream, and organic venison with spicy berry sauce (a special now). We love the fragrant dumplings (which she plans to market)—tonight, duck-ginger pot stickers, and tofu perfumed with spicy chrysanthemum. In Marja’s very personal world, plastic fish and giant peppers circle a garden table. Tomatoes are arranged like jewels. The chef herself wears a ruffled Japanese pinafore over shorts. And Chibi, the fat, pampered French bulldog, naps between foraging excursions. Our delicate crumbly, raspberry-jam-filled Linzer torte evokes Holland for Marja. “It’s my mother in the room,” she says.
30 Prince Street