228 E. 10th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-387-9545
You might expect a place with a Japanese owner (Tadao Mori, of Restaurant Lan), a Japanese architect (Hiromi Tsuruta), and a Japanese chef (Junichi Ota) to serve, well, Japanese food. But Dieci (scheduled to open next week) confounds expectations with a name that means “ten” in Italian and a chef who worked at Fiamma Osteria and San Domenico in Imola long enough to become culinarily fluent. Ota’s menu is as streamlined as the 25-seat subterranean space (formerly occupied by Miss Williamsburg Portavia), with a selection of cheese and salumi, pastas like garganelli with lamb Bolognese, and the occasional Eastern accent, like the wasabi veal stock he uses for his aged prime Angus, served with fingerling potatoes and crispy onions.
The Tasting Room Wine Bar & Café
72 E. 1st St., nr. First Ave.; 212-358-7831
When Colin and Renée Alevras’s Tasting Room outgrew its prohibitively tiny East Village space, the couple moved the restaurant to larger premises in Nolita. Now they’ve reopened the original location as the wine bar and café it was perhaps always meant to be, with a daily-changing blackboard menu and an all-American wine list. But the modesty of the setting can’t curb Colin’s aggressively seasonal, Greenmarket-dependent style, which expresses itself in rustic bar snacks like buttery heirloom popcorn, 3-Corner Field Farm’s sheep’s-milk-cheese-and-onion tart, and pheasant terrine with pear mustard. The café has inherited the restaurant’s custom-built Synesso espresso machine, and provides another outlet for Tasting Room pastry chef Samir Sarsour’s organic hazelnut tarts, mason jars of chocolate-mousse cake, and breakfast scones and muffins.
Where there once were Swedish meatballs, there are now keftedakia krasato (and a consulting chef late of Periyali): The East Side space previously occupied by Ulrika’s has become Retsina Elliniko Estiatorio, a new Greek restaurant serving avgolemono, shrimp saganaki, and a full roster of dips and spreads, from skordalia to melitzanosalata (115 E. 60th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-486-8826) … The intersection of Seventh Avenue South and West 10th Street has become something of a tapas hot spot. Besides the recently opened Tasca, there’s the month-old Ostia, where small plates like ham croquettes and Asturian beans and clams range from $6 to $10 and the all-Spanish wine list uses descriptors like “new world dandy” and “a smooth operator” (113 Seventh Ave. S., nr. 10th St.; 212-924-2305) … After establishing outposts in the East Village and Morningside Heights, the Max empire has brought its hearty pastas and gentle prices below Canal. Unlike its siblings, though, the Tribeca Max takes credit cards, and is BYO for now (181 Duane St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-966-5939).