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Restaurant Openings

Week of October 22, 2007: 18 Avenue B, Bocca di Bacco, and Back Forty.

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Photographs by Jeremy Liebman  

18 Avenue B
18 Ave. B, nr. 2nd St.; 212-477-7137
In a somewhat confusing turn of events, the Zaitzeff family (mom Amine, sons Zachary and Peter), beloved by financial-district workers for their eponymous burger spot, have been retained to manage the East Village space that formerly housed the tea salon High Chai. Until certain issues are resolved, the place is without an official nameóbut not, fortunately, without Zaitzeff’s signature hormone- and antibiotic-free burgers (sirloin, Wagyu, turkey, or veggie), served on Portuguese muffins and topped with grilled onions. A bright, breezy interior features a tiled floor, white curtains, and plain wooden tables (some of them communal), and the expanded menu includes tuna salad with hard-boiled egg, just like mom used to make. There’s breakfast, delivery, and a full bar, plus plans for around-the-clock service down the line.


Bocca di Bacco
828 Ninth Ave., nr. 54th St.; 212-265-8828
Brothers Enrico and Robert Malta own over a dozen midrange restaurants in Manhattan, most of them clustered in the theater district. This week, they expand their holdings with Bocca di Bacco, a collaboration with chef-partner Roberto Passon, whose eponymous restaurant down the street is also a Malta brothers production. Bocca calls itself a wine bar, which explains the 40 selections by the glass, the mixed olives, the meat and cheese plates, and the little nibbles like rice balls and marinated sardines. But its identity as a full-fledged, neighborhood-friendly Italian restaurant is substantiated with pastas like chestnut lasagnette with chickpeas and sausage, entrées like lamb osso buco, and prices that top out at $17.


Back Forty
190 Ave. B, at 12th St.; 212-388-1990
You can’t toss a parsnip these days without hitting a local and seasonally minded menu. But if anyone deserves credit for championing the Slow Food movement early on, it’s Peter Hoffman, the Alice Waters of Soho, who’s been running the restaurant Savoy for seventeen years, and who can be seen on Greenmarket days tooling around on a converted wheelbarrow-bicycle of sorts loaded down with luscious local produce. This week, he brings his sustainably minded style to Avenue B, where he and his chef de cuisine, Shanna Pacifico, will prepare family-friendly fare like Maine-shrimp-and-bacon beignets, Catskills trout, a grass-fed burger, and apple-cider doughnuts. More casual than Savoy, with main courses averaging $15, it’s the sort of spot you’d drop into for a seasonal cocktail or a glass of North Fork wine at the recycled-pine bar.


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