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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of April 17, 2006: Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street, Megu Midtown, Dirty Bird To-Go, and Dressler.

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Left to Right: Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street; Megu Midtown; Dirty Bird To-Go's fried chicken; Dressler.  

Openings

Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street
17 Clinton St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-253-2303

The closing of aKa Cafe and 71 Clinton Fresh Food might have marked the end of one chapter of Clinton Street’s culinary life, but the opening of Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street, an outpost of the popular Carroll Gardens spot—along with neighbors like De Vino wine shop, Falai and its Panetteria, and Piada—ushers in a new, Italian-accented one. (Wylie Dufresne has yet to deconstruct spaghetti and meatballs, but give him time.) With only 26 seats, Frankies is a sort of mini-spuntino, designed with the same old-fashioned, tin-ceilinged flair as the flagship. The menu is identical, with an emphasis on roasted vegetables, lively salads, and hearty Italian-American specials like pork braciole and cavatelli with Faicco’s hot sausage. The two Frankies (Castronovo and Falcinelli, joined here by partner Travis Lee Kauffman) continue beloved Brooklyn traditions, crafting delectable sandwiches on Sullivan St. Bakery pizza bianca, and steeping prunes in red wine for an unexpectedly delicious dessert. And they establish new Manhattan ones, like accepting credit cards.

Megu Midtown
845 UN Plaza, at 47th St.; 212-964-7777

Two years after its Tribeca debut, Megu opens a second Manhattan outpost, this one discreetly ensconced on the ground floor of the Darth Vaderesque Trump World Tower. Though smaller than its downtown counterpart, the new location is similarly dramatic, with a Swarovski-black-crystal chandelier, an enormous tiger mural, and eight lampshade-shaped fixtures lit from within and embellished with the owners’ family crests. Megu is known to fetishize ingredients, and continues the practice here: Diners are invited to choose their meticulously sourced meat and fish from tableside gueridons for the $70 seven-course tasting menu. Devotees will find all their favorites, from edamame on the branch for $15 to a $150 Kobe-style chateaubriand with ginger and black sesame. In deference to the smaller scale, though, the ice-sculpture centerpiece has become more of a Buddha bust.

Dirty Bird To-Go
204 W. 14th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-620-4836

The husband-and-wife chef team of Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing were last seen in New York cooking at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar before decamping to Louisiana to open the Longbranch. This week, they reestablish a decidedly lower-key Manhattan presence at Dirty Bird To-Go, where, along with partner (and wine importer) Joseph Ciriello, they tackle the fast-food market. The six-stool Dirty Bird To-Go is the prototype of what the owners hope will become a national chain devoted to free-range chicken in myriad forms (brined, double-dipped, and deep-fried; rotisserie; and fingers) and southern-inspired sides like dirty rice and shallot cornbread. Family meals start at $20.99.

Dressler
149 Broadway., nr. Driggs Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-6343

For years, cabs full of Williamsburg-bound gastronomes were ineluctably drawn to Peter Luger’s, but nowadays, there’s much more South Side culinary competition. First came the artfully rehabbed Diner and Marlow and Sons, and this week, the elegant Dressler takes up residence. The seasonal American restaurant, named for the title character of Steven Millhauser’s Pulitzer-winning historical novel, is the third (and most ambitious) local venture for Colin Devlin, owner of DuMont and its casual spinoff, DuMont Burger. Devlin hired Brooklyn artisans to build Dressler’s quirky iron chandeliers, light-box screens, and zinc bar, and with the larger room and budget come a bigger wine list and a more extensive, more upscale menu courtesy of DuMont co-chefs Polo Dobkin and Cal Elliott. But to placate neighbors wary of higher prices (and unmoved by entrées like roasted duck breast and braised leg with duck crepinette), Devlin shrewdly offers DuMont’s famous burger on the bar menu.


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