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Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of July 28, 2003

Trattoria Anna Maria
With four locations scattered throughout the city, the Anna Maria pizzeria chain has been dishing out slices and pizza-joint fare—chicken parm, lasagna—for more than 30 years. Now that the founder’s grandkids (cousins Anthony Spinelli and Joseph D’Angelo) have stepped in, regulars may be in for a shock when they stop by the newly renovated Trattoria Anna Maria. At 5 p.m. each night, the place transforms into a full-service restaurant (tablecloths, waiters—the whole meatball) with fairly sophisticated Italian fare: grilled octopus and watercress, seared tuna, veal scaloppine. How’d this happen? A hint: D’Angelo comes straight from the kitchens of Union Square Cafe and Esca.
1592 First Avenue, near 83rd Street

Snack Taverna
It was only a matter of time before Snack, Soho’s tight squeeze of a Greek restaurant and takeout shop, outgrew its five-table premises: Partners Elias Varkoutas and Adam Greene have finally expanded to the West Village with their comparatively spacious Snack Taverna, a miraculous transformation of the beloved if decrepit old home of Shopsin’s General Store. There’s room, at last, for a bar, an expanded selection of Greek wines and beers, and 52 customers at once. There’s room, too, for a more ambitious menu at only marginally higher prices ($4 to $18). New chef John Fraser puts his own sophisticated spin on Snack’s signature rusticity, topping stuffed grape leaves with pulverized almonds and saffron, embellishing pastourma (air-dried beef) with dried-fig vinaigrette, and pairing zesty grilled sausage with pear spoon sweets.
63 Bedford Street

Joe's Ginger Restaurant
To alleviate the mayhem at the Pell Street address of Joe’s Shanghai—an hour’s wait for a table is not uncommon—the owners have opened Joe’s Ginger Restaurant a mere soup dumpling’s toss away. For now, at least, most dishes on the nearly identical menu are a couple of bucks cheaper at the new spinoff. A bamboo basket of the slurpy crab-and-pork-stuffed steamed buns that made Joe’s famous, alas, goes for the full $6.25.
113 Mott Street


Karim Amatullah (formerly of the trendy lounge Halo) and Frank Prisinzano (of casual Italian favorites Frank, Lil’ Frankie’s Pizza, and Supper) seem an odd match. But the resulting Hue (pronounced “hway”), a just-fab-enough-yet-unpretentious French Vietnamese spot due to open in the West Village on August 1, promises to be as heady a combination as hot and sour. For now, a sushi bar, Saigon pork skewers, and pho bo—the hearty Vietnamese beef soup with bean sprouts, rice noodles, and brisket—are the draw; brunch and lunch menus are planned for later this summer, and a velvety downstairs lounge for fall.
91 Charles Street

Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Purists might turn up their noses at the notion of a chocolate bar laced with ginger, wasabi, and sesame seeds or one infused with sweet curry powder. To the open minds, then, go the spoils: On August 1, Chicago chocoholics Natalie and Katrina Markoff open their first New York branch of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, whose eclectic offerings are the result of Katrina’s nine-month culinary tour of the world. Look past the Parisian hot chocolate and chocolate-scented leather jackets (from $900) to the mouthwatering truffles: You’ll find French and Belgian chocolate paired with everything from olive oil and balsamic vinegar to Sicilian sea salt and wild-Tuscan-fennel pollen. Our favorite: the Vincent Gallo truffle (inspired by the director’s “maverick ways”), an unexpectedly delectable combination of bittersweet chocolate and Taleggio cheese. Yes, cheese.
132 Spring Street


in print

Born and raised in New York to Greek parents, Diane Kochilas reverse-emigrated to her ancestral turf, where she’s become Athens’s best-known food critic, the chef-owner of a restaurant on Ikaria, and head of the Glorious Greek Kitchen Cooking School. Somewhere in there—maybe it’s that easy Mediterranean lifestyle?—she’s found time to write several books, the last of which, The Glorious Foods of Greece, has rapidly become the standard in the field. Meze (William Morrow; $24.95), Kochilas’s new volume, has hit bookstores just in time to ride New York’s current small-plate wave—and judging by the warm-weather recipes like bread salad with watermelon, just in time for August, too.


Ask Gael
Authentic? I don’t care. Good is what counts.
We follow chef Sue Torres following her dream—i.e., Sueños—to this eccentric, hidden warren off Eighth Avenue. Surrender your senses happily to fava-bean-and-drunken-goat-cheese empanadas and the pork tamale with grilled shrimp and ancho beurre blanc. The accent of the chili tasting menu and the face of the woman pressing superior tortillas in one corner of the room signal Mexico, setting the stage for Torres’s skillful fusion. We can’t get enough of her giveaway peppery black-bean dip with triangles of warm homemade corn bread. It’s an early shakedown night, and service drags. With repeated prompting, the space-cadet waiter sends a runner with a single order of guacamole. (We’d asked for two; he charges for four.) Mezcal-cured-salmon terrine with avocado-grapefruit salad is pleasantly nueva cocina, as is grilled salmon with green-chili corn bread and poblano sauce. More south-of-the-border: chili-rubbed goat, steamed with beer in an avocado leaf.
311 West 17th Street

In the Archives

July 21, 2003
Penelope, Cripplebush Road, Bread Tribeca; Gotham Bar & Grill's apricot treat; small plate delights at Nar; eating light before the show.

July 14, 2003
Suenos, Angelina's, Chick-inn; a first taste of New Paradise Cafe; special summer ice creams; Brooklyn's brew gets shelved; Gael goes upstate to Finch Tavern.

July 7, 2003
That Little Cafe, Blue Goose Cafe; luscious lemonade at Dish; Citarella's devilishly delicious dessert; top five beer gardens; The BLT Cookbook; romance and ribs at Hacienda de Argentina.

More Openings & Buzz

Photos: Patrik Rytikangas, Kenneth Chen, Ellie Miller, Carina Salvi (4, 6), Peter Berson.

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