Trendlet: Choice Cut
The scary old deli-case staple is the variety meat of the moment.
There was a time, not so long ago, when a good tongue was hard to find. No more. Braised, pickled, corned, or smoked, tongue is suddenly everywhere, from the Beagle in the East Village, whose kitchen recently concocted the world’s first corned-tongue McMuffin (brunch only), to Terroir in Murray Hill, where the meaty muscle is cured and smoked pastrami style. It embellishes a deep-fried “puffy” taco at Goat Town and gets the French-dip treatment at JoeDough. At Gabe Stulman’s new Perla, it’s charred and served with cannellini beans and broccoli rabe, while over at Pane Panelle, it fills in for the traditional (but harder-sell) spleen on the Sicilian sandwich known as vastedda. It is, if anything, versatile, and, judging by its presence on some of this season’s most anticipated menus, it’s here to stay. Where to get your licks:
1. La Vara’s lengua
Llucmaçanes is two nice-size slabs of Minorca-style braised beef tongue in a stewy tomato-caper sauce.
2. Mile End Sandwich
Hot-brined calf’s tongue, sliced paper thin and served with onion-raisin marmalade, horseradish, and pickled mustard seed on housemade pumpernickel.
3. Gran Electrica
Beef-tongue tacos on housemade tortillas.
4. Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya
Fried rice with sweetbreads, beef tongue, and a poached egg.
Introducing: Matthew Lightner
Portland’s foremost forager-chef puts down roots in Tribeca.
Nebraska-born Matthew Lightner’s route to Atera, opening March 20 in Tribeca, has been long and circuitous: from a decade cooking up and down the West Coast, to a revelatory year and a half at Mugaritz, the obligatory stage at Noma, and two years transforming Portland, Oregon’s Castagna into what some consider the city’s most exciting avant-garde kitchen. Atera (“to go out” in the Basque dialect) replaces the short-lived Compose, but retains its prix fixe, tasting-menu format (now $150 for ten courses, plus $90 optional beverage pairing). While waiting for the seventeen-seat space to be renovated and a development kitchen built downstairs, Lightner, 31, enlisted Maine forager Evan Strusinski to help source some of the region’s wild foods, a hallmark of the chef’s style. “In Portland,” says Lightner, “all these burly guys with their pants cut off, wearing tie-dyed T-shirts, would be knocking on your door every five minutes.” Lower Manhattan is another story. But that hasn’t hampered his efforts to apply modern and traditional techniques to ingredients like wild ginger, birch sap, and the parsley root he candies and folds into freeze-dried banana ice cream, a banana split for the modernist palate. 77 Worth St., nr. Broadway; 212-226-1444.
Seven Things You Need to Know About Michael White’s New Pizzeria, Nicoletta
Ever since Mike White announced that he’d be getting into the pizza game, the entire crust-munching world has been wondering what the dickens he was up to. Now we know: pizza dough run through some kind of Homer Price–like contraption called a sheeter, and made in the style of some place called Wisconsin. Here’s the multitalented superstar chef on what else to expect.
1. I’m not rewriting the pizza book. I grew up in Wisconsin, and, as a kid, I worked in a pizzeria called Domenico’s. This is the kind of gas-oven pizza we made. Very crisp. Not too thin, not too thick.
2. Sometimes New York–Neapolitan and classic Neapolitan pizza is thin in the middle, thicker toward the edge, so when you pick up a slice, you’ve got to do that pinch thing with your thumb, index, and middle fingers, or the tip is going to droop. Our pizza will not droop.
3. I love it, but one thing about Neapolitan pizza everyone knows: It doesn’t travel well. Ours does. Delivery will be a big part of our business.
4. No matter where you grew up, you remember that smell of tomato sauce, oven, crust, and then that really wafting aroma of Pecorino Romano and basil when you first walk into a pizzeria. It’s that smell. That’s what I really want to bring to the city.
5. There is nothing you can’t put on pizza. Everything goes on pizza. Everything tastes better on pizza too.
6. We all know that pepperoni is the No. 1 topping.
7. No slices.
160 Second Ave., at 10th St.; no phone yet; April