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Restaurant Openings

Week of April 28, 2008: Savarona and Wildwood Barbeque.


420 E. 59th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-371-6300
The hautification of Mediterranean cuisines that started at Onera (Greek) and gathered steam at Pera (Turkish) and Ilili (Lebanese) has segued to Sutton Place, where Turkish couple Temel and Hatice Artukmac have transformed the old Bouterin space into Savarona, scheduled to open this week. Their chef, Tevfik Alparslan, has interspersed his Istanbul experience with stints at La Tour d’Argent and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s; his food marries tradition and innovation in dishes like Ottoman-style “wedding” soup with beet foam, and lobster-stuffed artichoke with coriander-lime sauce. The wine list is Mediterranean-centric, cocktails incorporate yogurt and figs, and the design utilizes textured bronze and brass. And while there are kebabs aplenty to satisfy the occasional meat-on-stick craving, there’s also a refined chef’s tasting menu showcasing langoustines and duck confit.

Wildwood Barbeque
225 Park Ave. S., nr. 18th St.; 212-533-2500
Here’s a new job description for you: executive pit master. That’s the role that “Big Lou” Elrose assumed last fall when he decamped from Hill Country for Wildwood Barbeque, Stephen Hanson’s rusticated reinvention of the vast space that housed his short-lived Spanish restaurant, Barça 18. Elrose, an ex-cop from Queens who got his start on the competition circuit, will helm Wildwood’s impending national expansion when he’s not personally ministering to menu items like “Texas low and slow smoked brisket hand-rubbed by Big Lou.” Elrose categorizes his multiregional ’cue as either “wet” (Memphis-style baby backs, Carolina pulled pork) or “dry” (lamb spare ribs, “falling-off-the-bone” beef short ribs), the backbone of a menu that explores the parameters of white-trash cuisine with notions like beer-battered fried jalapeños and spaghetti with barbecue Bolognese. The Rockwell Group’s design merges the industrial and the rustic via blackened steel, reclaimed wood, and—as a backdrop for Eben Klemm’s distinctive cocktails, like the green-tea sour with rye and chamomile—a bar top made of recycled paper.


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