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Restaurant Openings

Week of September 20, 2010: Hill Country Chicken, Lavo, and Maritime Parc.


Hill Country Chicken
1123 Broadway, at 25th St. 212-257-6446
Hill Country’s Marc Glosserman has already paid tribute to the cuisine and culture of his family’s native, barbecue-crazed Lockhart, Texas. Now, with Hill Country Chicken, he plans to celebrate the homestyle cooking of his grandmothers, Elsia and Betty—two women who were way ahead of the curve as far as current New York food trends go. Elsia (a.k.a. Mama Els) was the buttermilk-brined-fried-chicken expert, and Betty the pie master, and both are the inspiration for chef Elizabeth Karmel’s menu. The chicken may be deep-fried and the service cafeteria style, but Mama E. and Grandma B. would undoubtedly like the 100-seat bi-level space done up like a homey country kitchen in pale blues and yellows. Though what they’d make of the Texas hand roll—fried chicken tenders, coleslaw, sesame seeds, crushed almonds, and hot-pepper jelly wrapped in a flour tortilla—is anyone’s guess.

Maritime Parc
84 Audrey Zapp Dr., Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J.; 201-413-0050
To that handful of local dining destinations accessible by ferry—Water’s Edge, Water Taxi Beach, the Red Hook Fairway, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory—you can add Maritime Parc, opening this week at Jersey City’s Liberty Landing Marina. (Depart from World Financial Center; schedules at With two floors of event space and a 190-seat restaurant and deck, the place might rest on its location laurels. But chef-partner Chris Siversen makes a point to source locally from small sustainable farms, mostly through the Jersey-based farm-to- chef service called Zone 7. The nautical location dictates a raw bar and a whole fish of the day, but there’s also bourride with garlic aïoli and sourdough toasts, a French dip and duck-fat fries on the bar menu, plus cocktails created by Summit Bar’s Greg Seider. The design, by Stephanie Goto (responsible for the streamlined looks of Aldea and Corton), incorporates sailcloth-inspired translucent scrims, and the kitchen will happily provide “boat service” to its docked clientele.

39 E. 58th St., nr. Madison Ave. 212-750-5588
Las Vegas import Lavo opens this week in the former Au Bar space, across the street from its sister megarestaurant Tao. There’s a buzzy nightclub downstairs, but it’s debatable how much dancing one might do after consuming a one-pound Wagyu-blend meatball (pictured), two-foot-long lobster-scampi pizza, and Oreo zeppoles for dessert. Before Brooklyn native Ralph Scamardella became corporate chef of the Tao group, he worked at Le Cygne, the Polo, and Vanessa’s, but it’s his stint at Carmine’s, pioneer of Italian-American family-style excess, that’s reflected here most. Chef Manuel Treviño, late of Travertine and Babbo, will reproduce Scamardella’s Vegas menu, making tweaks over time.

AND … With 120 seats, the new ’wichcraft located inside the Starrett-Lehigh Building (601 W. 26th St., at Eleventh Ave.; 212-780-0577) is the largest yet and the first to offer dinner service along with a full bar … Flex Mussels is also in expansion mode, with a West Village offshoot (154 W. 13th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-229-0222), new dishes, and a Top Chef: Just Desserts pastry chef … Speaking of kitchen dramas, Villa Pacri (55 Gansevoort St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-924-5559) has five French partners and two Italian chefs, all housed in one meatpacking-district space.


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