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Restaurant Openings

Week of November 5, 2007: Lunetta, Bacaro, and Smith's.

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Photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell  

Lunetta
920 Broadway, at 21st St.; 212-533-3663
Usually it’s the other way around: A Manhattan hot-spot restaurant takes pity on the poor undernourished masses across the river, and opens a branch office in Kings County. Boerum Hill’s Italian small-plates specialist Lunetta, however, attempts the comparatively rare Brooklyn-to-Manhattan culinary commute, and judging by the popularity of the original and this city’s unwavering hunger for Italian food, it should do all right. Chef-co-owner Adam Shepard is bringing his house-made ricotta, his toasted-garlic-tomato-sauce meatballs, and his cavatelli with braised lamb. The design, unlike the Brooklyn space that never really changed from when it was the Asian-influenced Taku, is heavy on the old-world charm, and aims to evoke Arthur Avenue and Italian-American social clubs of yore.


Bacaro
136 Division St., nr. Ludlow St.; 212-941-5060
In Venice, a bacaro is a workingman’s pub where snacks called cichetti are served in small plates, and wine is served in a commensurately small glass (“ombra” in the local dialect). It will be much the same at Bacaro, the Venetian restaurant Peasant chef-owner Frank DeCarlo plans to open this week on the eastern fringes of Chinatown. DeCarlo and his wife, Dulcinea Benson, have converted a former aquarium into a persuasively antiqued bi-level wine bar and osteria, outfitted with exposed brick, salvaged barn wood, and a warren of romantic nooks and crannies, including a brick-vaulted private dining space located below the sidewalk. DeCarlo’s classic Venetian bar snacks include crostini, fried stuffed olives, and marinated sardines, which he supplements with cured meats, cheeses selected by local legend Lou DiPalo, and pastas like spaghetti with cuttlefish ink. The wine list is Dulcinea’s domain, and focuses on the Veneto and neighboring northern regions.


Smith’s
79 Macdougal St., nr. Houston St.; 212-260-0100
That “Smith” is a good name for a restaurant seems to be an idea arrived at almost simultaneously among several restaurateurs of late as if by subliminal message from some wily self-promoter named Smith. There’s Tribeca’s Smith & Mills (owned by Matt Abramcyk), there’s the Smith from the folks at Jane restaurant (neither of whom is a Smith) scheduled to open next month, and there’s plain old Smith’s, which opens this week in the South Village. This last, however, may have the best claim to the name. It’s the brainchild of restaurateur Danny Abrams (of Mermaid Inn, Red Cat, and Harrison fame) and an actual Smith, his partner Cindy. They’ve given the former Trattoria Dante a thorough renovation, dividing it into three sections and installing some cozy black-leather booths, an antique-mirrored ceiling, and a vintage oak bar from Harlem. In the kitchen is Pablo Romero, who’s done time at many reputable joints, including Bouley and Jean Georges, and whose American menu of dishes like olive-oil-poached Chatham cod, grilled rib eye, and grilled lobster with butternut squash befits the time-tested name.


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