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Restaurant Openings

Week of March 30, 2009: Paradiso, Tonda, Kajitsu, Vutera, and Baoguette Café.

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Paradiso
105 Ave. B, nr. 7th St.; 212-777-0234
Everyone’s idea of paradise is different. For Venice-born Alessandra Veronese, it’s homemade tiramisu in six different flavors. That’s the specialty of her two-month-old café, Paradiso, La Casa del Tiramisu. In addition to the namesake dish (available in a classic mascarpone-enriched, coffee-and-Marsala-soaked rendition, plus amaretto, chocolate, apple-raisin, strawberry, and banana-chocolate), Veronese serves panini, cookies, and coffee. It’s a simpler menu than she once offered at La Casalinga, the pocket-size East Village pasta parlor where her tiramisu built a fan base before it closed a year ago.


Tonda
235 E. 4th St., nr. Ave. B 212-254-2900
This week in pizza news: Bob Giraldi converts his East Village gastropub E.U. into the Neapolitan-style pizzeria Tonda. There’s a bit of backstory. First, his collaborator in this venture, Bread’s Luigi Comandatore, was planning to team up with Giraldi in this very location before Giraldi went the gastropub route with Jason Hennings. Second, Giraldi’s onetime partner, fellow adman turned restaurateur Phil Suarez, has coincidentally just backed Jim Lahey in the Chelsea pizzeria Co. For now, the only thing hungry New Yorkers care about is the individual-size pies, baked by pizzaiolo Michele Sceral in a wood-burning oven equipped with a newfangled stone pivot. “The pies will only need to rotate once to be perfectly cooked,” says oven builder Nobile Attie, who’s also done work for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Peasant’s Frank DeCarlo. In addition to twenty kinds of pizza, from Margherita to shrimp-arugula-and-Parmigiano, Tonda offers salads, focaccia, and “Neapolitan street food” like fritti and bruschette—plus a largely Italian wine list and local delivery.


Kajitsu
414 E. 9th St., nr. First Ave. 212-228-4873
In the Shojin, or Japanese vegetarian kaiseki tradition, devised centuries ago by Buddhist monks, vegetables weren’t transformed to mimic meat, but celebrated in all their seasonal glory. And so it will be at Kajitsu, soft-opening this weekend in the East Village space formerly occupied by Ebisu. Chef Masato Nishihara mastered his ancient craft at Kitcho in Kyoto, where he also studied the affiliated arts of the tea ceremony and flower arranging, and plans to expand his Shojin horizons here by incorporating American produce in his set menus ($45 and $65). They’ll also feature soba, made daily, and fu, the protein-packing building block of Shojin cuisine made from gluten and rice flour. (Kajitsu’s owner is heir to a 250-year-old fu manufacturer that once supplied the imperial court.) The 28-seat restaurant evokes the ceremonial tea rooms its designer has built in Kyoto, with a long counter carved from a single slab of Japanese zelkova, just one of the various woods used for the custom furniture, and antique Japanese dishware that’s historically restored rather than replaced.

AND … The brother-and-sister team behind Williamsburg’s Rose Live Music have upgraded their basement restaurant with a new chef (Molly Del Monte, late of Little Giant), manager (Hugh Crickmore, from Mas), and name (Vutera). On the local-and-seasonal Mediterranean menu: Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta, parsnip gnocchi with beet-green pesto, and Spanish-mackerel escabèche (345 Grand St., nr. Marcy St., Williamsburg; 718-599-0069) … Baoguette Café, a spinoff of the Curry Hill bánh mì shop, brings Vietnamese sandwiches to 37 St. Marks Place (nr. Second Ave.; 347-892-2614).


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