Fornino Park Slope
256 Fifth Ave., nr. Garfield Pl., Park Slope; 718-399-8600
Before Michael Ayoub became a professional pie man, before he started stretching dough at Fornino in Williamsburg, he was best known as the chef of Cucina, the pioneering Park Slope restaurant that established Fifth Avenue as a restaurant row. This week, twenty years after Cucina opened, Ayoub returns to the spot where he launched his career to open a second branch of Fornino in a three-storefront space with an extensive Italian menu and a prepared-foods takeout annex. The big news here is not only Ayoub’s triumphant return, but also that the glassblowing, herb-growing, mozzarella-making pizzaiolo is forsaking Naples-style pies for the slightly obscure grilled variety. Cheeses and cured meats that can’t withstand the thousand-degree heat of his Williamsburg oven are fair game for the grill, he says, and on his seventeen-pie menu, you’ll find everything from the funghi misti (wild mushrooms, taleggio, and truffle oil) to the Vinny Scotto (bel paese, mozzarella, Pecorino, ricotta, cacciatorino, and red-pepper aïoli), a tribute to his late friend and grilled-pizza master. Unlike Scotto’s—and every other grilled pizza we’ve ever seen—Ayoub’s will be perfectly circular rather than a free-form oval. “It’s easier to find plates for,” he says, “and I’ll be able to fit it in a regular delivery box.”
See Also: A look inside Fornino Park Slope. Plus, the full menu.
Diablo Royale Este
167 Ave. A, nr. 11th St.; 212-388-9673
Much like the original West Village location, Jason Hennings’s new Mexican “saloon,” Diablo Royale Este, will traffic in such familiar fare as tacos and fajitas when it opens on Cinco de Mayo. But the East Village outpost is twice the size, with a downstairs bar and a 30-seat garden. That’s where chef Peter Klein will use a roasting box called La Caja China to cook large-format specials like spit-roasted suckling pig prepared two ways: pibil (achiote-marinated and wrapped in banana leaves) or al pastor (spice-rubbed with pineapple), each going for $40 a person with sides. A few menu additions are meant to reflect the European Colonial influence, like croque monsieur enchiladas stuffed with ham and Chihuahua and Gruyère cheeses. And the so-called basement bordello will offer a roster of new cocktails, including Le Colonial (mezcal, Champagne, and Aperol).