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Restaurant Openings

Week of April 23, 2007: Insieme, Tiffin Wallah, and P*ONG.

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Insieme  

Insieme
777 Seventh Ave., at 51st St.; 212-582-1310
According to Marco Canora, eight out of ten diners cannot pronounce the name of his East Village restaurant Hearth, preferring the nonsensical “hurth.” Imagine what he’s gotten himself into, then, by choosing Insieme as the name for his new Italian restaurant at the Michelangelo Hotel. Insieme (pronounced in-see-em-eh) means “together” in Italian, and speaks to what restaurants, as far as Canora is concerned, are all about: “Being together among friends, and enjoying each other’s company.” Not that he’s neglected the food component. On the contrary, he’s created an intriguing menu by bringing together (there’s that word again) traditional and contemporary Italian cooking. On one side of the menu, you’ll find what Canora calls historical dishes like a lesso misto, a fancified Milanese version of a bollito misto (above right), and on the other, modern platings of globally sourced, inventively prepared ingredients like Tasmanian king salmon (above left), served with a springy salad. The wine, the cheese, the dessert, even the tea selection are similarly segregated, according to new-world or old-world derivation or style, but the room, with its bleached white-oak tabletops, silk-thread curtains, and travertine bar, is decidedly, elegantly, modern.


Tiffin Wallah
127 E. 28th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-685-7301
In India, tiffin wallahs are delivery boys, but not the kind we’re used to. There, they ferry stacked stainless-steel bowls of food home-cooked by wives to their toiling husbands, not cartons of Chinese food to apartment-dwelling couch potatoes. Hoping to revive the custom here in slightly modified form, Pradeep Shinde opened the new vegetarian Indian restaurant Tiffin Wallah right around the corner from his Chennai Garden, with an almost identical menu and a $6 lunch buffet. Within the next few weeks, Shinde plans to institute a limited delivery menu, with individual meals (appetizer, salad, two curries, bread, rice, and dessert) or a week’s worth to be cooked by a designated delivery chef and ordered online (delivery@tiffinwallah.us). But even without the delivery component, Tiffin Wallah in its current incarnation is a worthy addition to the Curry Hill landscape, with bright, modern décor and a selection of thalis, chats, dosas, and curries all priced at a dollar discount from Chennai Garden. BYO for now.


P*ONG
150 W. 10th St., nr. Waverly Pl.; 212-929-0898
P*ONG, New York’s newest dessert bar, technically isn’t one: Andre Kikoski’s sinuous design adds twenty banquette seats to the ash-wood bar’s fourteen, and chef-owner Pichet Ong’s eclectic oeuvre, in contemporary pastry-chef fashion, emphasizes the savory (shrimp-and-pineapple seviche with whipped cachaça, say) as much as the sweet. The Asian flavors that dominated Ong’s desserts at 66 and Spice Market pervade his new menu, which includes a “remix” of his trademark coconut tapioca Thai Jewels, and cocktails enhanced with mangosteen and Japanese wasanbon sugar. There’s a ten-course, $58 “P*ONG Suite” tasting menu, and an assortment of charcuterie and cheese. For a more daring dairy experience, though, try one of Ong’s unlikely but inspired composed plates, like Roquefort soufflé with arugula ice cream, or goat-cheese croquette with pineapple chutney and milk-chocolate fudge.


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