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Restaurant Openings

Week of December 8, 2008: Shang, L’Artusi, Baoguette, Fishtail by David Burke, and Zibetto Espresso Bar.


187 Orchard St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-260-7900
Like many culture-crossing chefs, Susur Lee considers fusion “the F word,” but that hasn’t stopped him from integrating Eastern and Western ingredients and techniques throughout his career. The Hong Kong native made his name in Toronto where he opened Lotus two decades ago, and then Susur (now Madeline’s), and Lee, and this weekend, he establishes his New York beachhead on the lattice-screened second floor of the Thompson LES hotel. According to Lee, Shang loosely (and imaginatively) reflects the way Chinese emigrants have adapted their food over time. One example, the lobster-and-shrimp croquette, is akin to the Cantonese har gow, but wrapped in potato threads, deep-fried, and paired with a curry-leaf-flavored black-pepper sauce. For his Mongolian lamb (pictured), Lee marinates the loin in cumin, garlic, long peppercorns, and cinnamon, then serves it by the chop, with coconut-cardamom and mint-chile chutneys. He’s still tweaking the menu, which will be à la carte, with an emphasis on sharing.

228 W. 10th St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-255-5757
L’Artusi chef-partner Gabriel Thompson is thrilled with his palatial new open kitchen. Palatial, that is, in comparison to the one he oversees at Dell’anima, the West Village spot where he established a late-night following for his vibrant, seasonal Italian cooking. In addition to new equipment and room to maneuver, Thompson has gained a raw bar, a cheese counter, and a fryer for heretofore impossible dishes like fritto misto. But L’Artusi isn’t Dell’anima gone upscale: The focus is on medium-size plates, with most ranging between $12 and $19. Thompson plans to change the menu frequently, but you can expect verdure like celery hearts with radish, lemon, and capers, and pasta like orecchiette with artichokes and chestnuts. Partner Joe Campanale’s wine list emphasizes native-grape varieties, small producers, and natural growing methods, and supplements the Italian core with ten grower-producer Champagnes and a smattering of New York State wines made from Italian varieties.

61 Lexington Ave., nr. 25th St.; 212-518-4089
The latest from peripatetic husband-and-wife restaurateurs Thao Nguyen and Michael Bao (Bu’n, Bao Noodles) takes the increasingly popular bánh mì where no bánh mì has ever gone before: into the world of the delicatessen and a space previously occupied by a Blimpie’s. To wit, the intriguingly wacky-sounding Spicy Red Curry Corned Beef sandwich with caramelized onions and pickled jalapeños served on a baguette—or “baogette,” if you prefer. The rest of the Vietnamese sandwiches (pork, catfish, and barbecued chicken) are more traditional, and to round out the menu, there are Vietnamese salads, rolls, and a few noodle dishes. Seating is limited to a ten-stool counter.

Fishtail by David Burke
135 E. 62nd St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-754-1300
These are trying times for the politically correct seafood lover. Which finny denizens of the deep are okay to eat and which are not? Is tucking into an orange roughy a tactless—if not despicable—act? And why is farming oysters, shrimp, and catfish good, but salmon bad? Fishtail, located in the old Jovia space, would like to set your mind at ease. The seafood shrine’s long-term goal, according to chef-owner David Burke, is to become a completely sustainable-seafood restaurant, if that’s possible. Not that the opening menu is teeming with Chilean sea bass and Atlantic cod (both sustainability no-nos). On the contrary, it ranges from Kindai (farmed) tuna sashimi to seared wild salmon with lentils. Even the swordfish in the swordfish “steak-frites” is caught the right way, by harpoon, says Burke.

Zibetto Espresso Bar
102 Fulton St., nr. William St.; no phone
Good news for those who like to sip their espresso from elegant porcelain cups while standing civilly at white marble counters with nary an oversize muffin or laptop in sight: Midtown’s Zibetto Espresso Bar has expanded to the financial district. This second branch is even sleeker than Zibetto No. 1, thanks in part to a stunning replica of the defunct Faema E61—aesthetically speaking, the ne plus ultra of espresso machines. To go with the coffee, there are simple pressed panini, biscotti, and—perhaps in anticipation of a rush of converts from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts up the block—a little more room than the original.


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