116 Ave. C, nr. 8th St. 212-353-8000
According to owner Vladimir Ocokoljic, Kafana is New York’s first Serbian restaurant. But MetroCard-carrying gourmands will recognize a few familiar dishes from the Bosnian joints scattered around town. The big difference, according to Ocokoljic: “We use pork.” Do they ever. Kafana’s menu is immersed in the stuff, from the rinds that garnish a mixed-meat meze platter to the bacon that wraps walnut-stuffed prunes. And then, of course, there’s cevapi (pictured), the region’s signature beef-pork-and-lamb sausages; a slew of vegetable salads; and variously stuffed pies, akin to layered bureks but, to Ocokoljic’s mind, better. Like any self-respecting kafana—a term meaning neighborhood restaurant—his will serve food, coffee, and (as soon as the license arrives) beer and wine.
138 Seventh Ave. S., nr. 10th St. 212-352-2237
Last seen stuffing pelmeni with foie gras at the Russian Tea Room, peripatetic chef Gary Robins reemerges this week at Sheridan Square, the spiffed-up successor to the short-lived Central Kitchen. With the new kitchen talent comes a new dining-room design, featuring a cherrywood-burning oven and grill that Robins intends to use for various cuts of crowd-pleasing meat and whole fish. But fans of his globally inspired style, which Robins calls “progressive American” and honed at places like Aja and the Biltmore Room, will find it on ample display in composed dishes like sashimi of dayboat fluke with braised hearts of palm, tamarind, yuzu, and mustard oil. The 35-seat bar area falls under the mixological jurisdiction of Rainlove Lampariello, late of Lever House, whose cocktails include a smoked-salt margarita and a rhubarb daiquiri, and sidewalk seating—a West Village imperative—should begin by mid-June.