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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of May 31, 2006: Penzeys Spices, Centovini, Zip Burger, and Chinatown Brasserie.

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Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette St., at Great Jones St.; 212-533-7000
If it boasted only dim sum wizard Joe Ng’s supernal dumplings, crispy triangles, and puff-pastry buns, I’d predict a torrid summer for Chinatown Brasserie, launching this week. Tyson Wong Ophaso—Troisgros-prepped and Jean-Jacques Rachou–seasoned—tweaks Cantonese classics from the recipes of consultant Sinologist Eddie Schoenfeld, a partner of the late David Keh. He also fields the best Thai beef salad I’ve ever tasted, and intensely perfumed mussel zuppa. The barbecue cook comes from many years on the Peking-duck line at Shun Lee. Toss in partners John McDonald and Josh Pickard’s following of nocturnal lemmings. Top off with a big dose of decorative chinoiserie and a smartly citric frozen mai tai. Ng’s dim sum, with its astonishing range of textures that brought me three times to a ticky-tacky Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn, will get full play at lunch (from 11 a.m.) if the house doesn’t dull the thrill by playing it too safe. (Gael Greene)


Zip Burger
300 1/2 E. 52nd St., nr. Second Ave., 212-308-1308
Into the supersize New York burger market comes Zip Burger, a whimsically decorated two-story shop determined to quash the humble sandwich’s junk-food reputation. Chef-owner Ted Pryor, who’s cooked at Les Halles and La Goulue, uses South Dakota Hereford beef (Murray’s turkey, farmed Atlantic salmon, and house-made veggie alternatives also available), and a choice of buns, from sliced sourdough to lettuce wraps. Coach Farms goat cheese and roasted piquillos class up the toppings selection, and milk shakes and Belgian-style French fries round out the menu.


Centovini
25 W. Houston St., nr. Greene St., 212-219-2113
Despite the name (“100 wines”), this new Italian wine bar and adjacent wine shop, a collaboration between the owners of trendsetting design shop Moss and I Trulli’s Nicola Marzovilla, will eventually offer 120 of Marzovilla’s personal selections, including a few his family imports themselves. Patti Jackson’s menu is an appealing blend of the stylishly seasonal—Greenmarket ramps and radishes, fava-bean purée with morels—and Marzovilla’s mother’s homey Pugliese pastas. And the sleek, minimalist décor has Moss written all over it, from the glossy white terrazzo marble bar and Venini chandeliers to the white-leather-and-chrome Joe Colombo stools.


Penzeys Spices
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market—home mainly to local brands like Oren’s Daily Roast, Murray’s Cheese, and Li-Lac Chocolates—gets New York’s first branch of Penzeys Spices, the national chain that has just supplanted the gift-basket mecca Adriana’s Caravan. The range is impressive, from ajwain seed to zatar—and what you can’t find there you most likely will at penzeys.com.


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