1664 Park Ave., nr. 118th St.; 212-289-1343
The Argentine-steakhouse trend continues to beef up, with Gaucho Steak Co. in Hell’s Kitchen, Catch 22 in Williamsburg, and the yearling Buenos Aires downtown. What, exactly, does this South American variant offer that traditional New York steakhouses don’t? Lower prices, Malbec on the wine list, and often, in the great night-before-payday, cheap-meal tradition, gnocchi on the 29th of each month. That’s how it’s been at mainstays like La Porteña and Chimichurri Grill, and that’s how it will be at Caminito, a 45-seat hacienda opening this week in East Harlem. Chef-owner Fabian Manca grills everything from provolone cheese to blood sausage, and procures some grass-fed Uruguayan cuts like skirt, shell, and filet mignon. There are also the customary empanadas and veal milanese, plus perhaps the carnivorous country’s greatest contribution to fast food: French fries pungently bombed with garlic and parsley.
458 Myrtle Ave., nr. Washington Ave., Clinton Hill, Brooklyn; 718-422-1122
Cousins Peter and Frank Costabile are Brooklyn landlords and real-estate developers, and they put their own construction experience to good use at Il Torchio, the rustic Italian wine-and-tapas bar they plan to open the instant the liquor license arrives. The cousins built the brick-arched, tin-ceilinged room themselves, turning salvaged ceiling beams into the bar top and wine racks. There is a 70-seat brick patio out back, a vintage wine press that gives the place its name, and a small-plate menu executed by chef Charles Giangarra, a veteran of Brooklyn’s equally rustic Convivium Osteria. There are salads (braised duck with shaved fennel and currants), risotti (shrimp with grilled radicchio and chives), and panini named for various parts of Calabria, the original birthplace of the Costabile clan. But the highlight of the menu is the tapas section, small plates of pan-seared sea scallops with spicy chickpea purée and fried polenta, or porcini-dusted tilapia with white-bean vinaigrette. “We wanted people to say, ‘Wow!’ ” says Peter’s daughter Pamela, who will be working the floor.