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Restaurant Openings

Week of September 24, 2007: Bobo, Tokyo Bar, and Fiamma.


Photographs by Noah Sheldon  

181 W. 10th St., at Seventh Ave. S.; 212-488-2626
When Carlos Suarez was describing the vibe of his impending West Village restaurant to a friend, he used the word bobo—an abbreviation of “bourgeois bohemian,” coined by David Brooks, and the putative successor to the yuppie as an equally affluent but more socially conscious cultural type. The name stuck, and this week, Bobo opens in a brownstone divided into a subterranean bar and a second-floor dining room and garden, equipped with fireplaces, a copper chef’s table, and antiques that Suarez sourced from the Hudson Valley. Chef Nicolas Cantrel comes from a bit further afield: Born in Normandy, France, employed by Alain Ducasse for almost a decade, and most recently the executive sous-chef at Country, Cantrel has fashioned a Pan-European menu with a south-of-France slant. Dishes include fritto misto with anchoïade, artichoke barigoule, and a classic bouillabaisse, all intended to be served in an intimate setting that conjures an old-world dinner party in what Suarez calls “a fantasy apartment in Paris or Rome.” Why the emphasis on European food, wine, and décor? According to Suarez, who perfected the art of the dinner party as a business major at Wharton, the Continent is “less commercial, more personal and artisanal. Soulfulness is very much what drives me.”

Tokyo Bar
277 Church St., nr. White St.; 212-966-2787
Four months after a renegade band of Angel’s Share bartenders absconded to Tribeca to open the subterranean cocktail lounge B Flat, they’ve expanded their holdings with a street-level café. At Tokyo Bar, the walls and ceiling are decorated with Japanese comics, and chef Kensuke Kuri, late of Lan, has fashioned an eclectic menu that he calls “new Japanese comfort food.” To drink, there’s sake and shochu as well as roasted-chestnut coffee and cocktails both alcoholic and non- (Safe Sex on the Beach, for one). And to eat, there’s Berkshire-pork-sausage soup, smoked-duck-breast salad with garam masala dressing, and “Parmesan-flavored pork-loin cutlet.” Of particular note are the assimilated versions of Italian and Indian specialties that have become as mainstream in Tokyo as they have here: the Tokyo “curry,” for instance, or the Tokyo “Napolitan” spaghetti, served with a ketchup-based approximation of tomato sauce.

206 Spring St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-653-0100
Fiamma is the culinary jewel in Stephen Hanson’s B. R. Guest crown, and, not coincidentally, his most chef-driven property. So when said chef left, as Michael White recently did, to fill Scott Conant’s shoes at Alto and L’Impero, Hanson had to scramble for a worthy replacement. He seems to have found one in chef-partner Fabio Trabocchi, whose cooking at Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner won him a 2006 James Beard award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef. Trabocchi aims to make his mark at Fiamma with a modern, regional-Italian menu that pays dutiful tribute to meticulously sourced ingredients. “La Pasta con le Sarde,” for instance, is a composition of Gragnano Neapolitan vermicelli, marinated sardines, pine nuts, and Catalina sea urchins, while La Porchetta is made from roasted Ossabaw suckling pig, artichokes “Romana,” and Tuscan farro. A former L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon sommelier collaborates with in-house mixologist Eben Klemm on the beverage program, the cheese menu features four kinds of robiola, and desserts veer into avant-garde territory with choices like mascarpone panna cotta with chicory gelato, coffee soil, and espresso froth.


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