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Restaurant Openings

Week of August 20, 2007: Crave Ceviche Bar, Accademia di Vino, BLT Market, and Little Piggy (Market).


Crave Ceviche Bar
946 Second Ave., nr. 50th St.; 212-355-6565
Todd Mitgang’s infatuation with ceviche began in cooking school, where, he says, “you learn that acidity and salt make food jump out at you. The word bright comes to mind.” It’s that quality that Mitgang tries to capture at Crave Ceviche Bar, where he takes a playful approach to “cooking” raw proteins with everything from tomato water to Champagne. Everything besides the tempura-fried rock shrimp and the serrano-ham crostini starts out raw and is cured in its marinade, the components of which are identified on the menu by the term “ceviche’d.” The Maine lobster roll, for instance, is made from meat that’s “ceviche’d” in Meyer-lemon juice, while the yellowfin tuna marinates in watermelon juice and Chinese red vinegar. Mitgang applies the technique to beef, too, bringing his Worcestershire-sauced, lemon-juiced filet mignon sliders to medium-rare without the benefit of a flame. Even beer is served “mordida style” with lime juice, salt, and Tabasco.

Accademia di Vino
1081 Third Ave., at 64th St.; 212-888-6333
After shortish runs as Mainland and Ollie’s Brasserie, this subterranean spot reopens August 15 as Accademia di Vino, an enoteca and trattoria with a new street-level wine bar, a straightforward Italian menu, and a 500-bottle cellar. Partner Anthony Mazzola also co-owns ’Cesca, and he’s enlisted that restaurant’s chef, Kevin Garcia, to oversee this kitchen as well. In proper wine-bar fashion, Garcia offers myriad Italian cheeses, house-cured lardo and other salumi, shrimp-salad tramezzini, and pork-tonnato panini, plus a full roster of carpaccios, tartares, antipasti, and pastas. There are hefty main courses, too, like heritage-pork porterhouse, and braciole, the Sunday special. The “susci,” or Italian-style raw fish, is served by the ounce, over risotto with grated horseradish and the fermented-fish sauce called garum. And great news for pizza aficionados: Garcia is serving the grilled pies he first made at Providence’s seminal Al Forno, and then at Vincent Scotto’s Gonzo, embellished with seasonal toppings like watermelon, goat cheese, and mint, or corn, potato, and Gorgonzola.

BLT Market
1430 Sixth Ave., at Central Park S.; 212-521-6125
Laurent Tourondel, Mr. BLT, moves into the Ritz-Carlton August 16, and it seems that proximity to the verdant lushness of Central Park has put him in an ecstatic green-is-good frame of mind. Although he’s yet to be spotted in socks and Birkenstocks foraging for stinging nettles near the Ramble, his monthly changing menu will yield to none in its exuberance for scrupulously (and often locally) sourced ingredients. To wit: an arugula-and-dandelion salad, tomato soup with fried green tomatillo, Amish chicken, and striped bass with cranberry-bean caponata (everything at a preview discount to start things off). Even the walls are decorated with paintings of fruits and veggies, as well as photos of the odd butcher or cheesemonger.

Little Piggy (Market)
64 Lafayette Ave., at S. Elliot Pl., Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-797-1011
Having coined the term “Brooklyn style” to describe their barbecue at the Smoke Joint, Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel have set out to redefine the general store. What does that mean in Brooklyn terms? Kentucky ham (taking a star turn on a Cuban sandwich, perhaps), Anson Mills grits, and penny candy. (“It isn’t a penny anymore,” says Samuel.) From less far-flung locales come upstate produce and meats, locally roasted coffee, and homemade cookies and pies. Think of it as Fort Greene’s answer to Williamsburg’s Marlow & Sons by way of Petticoat Junction.


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