Felice Wine Bar
1166 First Ave., at 64th St.; 212-593-2223
The Upper East Side space that was formerly Focaccia Fiorentina has reopened as Felice Wine Bar, and if a few details are reminiscent of Sant Ambroeus, including the logo’s typeface, there’s a very good reason: Felice shares not only partial ownership with that institution—it also shares a chef and a wine buyer. As you’d expect, wine figures prominently in the redesign, from the deconstructed-barrel vestibule to the glass-jugs chandelier. Chef Simone Parisotto has composed a menu of focaccias, pastas and risotti, and mains like bamboo-steamed halibut. But what best suits the theme is the selection of paired snacks, like the crostoni of eggplant, zucchini, and burrata that the menu matches with the house wine, a blend of Chardonnay and Vermentino from partner Jacopo Giustiniani’s family vineyard in Tuscany.
465 Lexington Ave., nr. 45th St.; 212-661-6080
You might be surprised by the business model that inspired Zen Burger, the fast-food spinoff of Zen Palate that’s scheduled to open in midtown within the next few weeks, Con Ed permitting. “It’s just like McDonald’s,” says co-owner James Tu, referring to his burger (Special ZenSauce and all), his free-range-egg sandwich with ZenSausage, and his chicken nuggets—all of them made from proprietary blends of vegetables, grains, and soy products. The soft-serve in the shakes is dairy-free, and the ZenTuna is mixed with Veganaise. There’s even a kids’ menu, with smaller portions and a toy included with every order (if that doesn’t work as an eat-your-veggies bribe, there are always warm chocolate-chip cookies for dessert).
511 E. 5th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-260-1333
When chef turned lawyer Adam Cohn and his architect-partner Adam Kushner bought Le Tableau in July, the intention was to stay true to the bistro’s French origins. But gradually, as they added the foods they liked to eat (chef de cuisine Josh Shuffman’s brisket with kasha varnishkes, for instance, and Jonathan Waxman’s crêpes and caviar, a dish Cohn picked up cooking at Washington Park), they succumbed to their eclectic food instincts, influenced by Cohn’s stints at Barbuto and London’s River Café. The space has evolved, too, with a 45-foot-long communal table that connects the dining room to the open kitchen, and the new name pays tribute to both partners’ fathers.