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Union Square to Host Top Chef Cook-off Tomorrow

Harlem: A plea goes out to identify that colorful “newish-looking” frankfurter stand on 125th Street; locals fear it’s just a case of mistaken papaya. [Harlem Flavor] Nolita: Barcelona-based hard-candy maker Papabubble plans to open its first New York store this summer. [Down by the Hipster] Prospect-Lefferts Gardens: Caribbean Sweet Hand opening on Washington Avenue, possibly a roti shop, possibly sells babies. [across the park] Roosevelt Island: Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation slapping restaurants with so much red tape that there are only two left on the island. [NYC Nosh] Union Square: To launch the new Top Chef season, the show is doing a big outdoor rematch cook-off between Ilan Hall and Sam Talbot from noon to 1:30 p.m. [Grub Street]

Educating About Sonny Carson

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So the fight over the proposed renaming of four blocks in Brooklyn as Sonny Abubadika Carson Avenue has reached the point where people are threatening to kill each other over it. Is the plan really, as Mayor Bloomberg said, "the worst idea the City Council has had in recent memory"? Maybe, maybe not. There's little more controversial about Carson's positions than, say, Malcolm X's: He freely mixed admirable initiatives (closing down crack houses, fighting police corruption), dramatic ideas (reinterring black slaves in Africa), and the baby-with-the-bathwater nationalist rhetoric. But Malcolm X was infamously "glad" at JFK's death, and he's got a street. Here's an observation we can submit, though — Sonny Carson was, among other things, an expert street renamer. As chairman of the Committee to Honor Black Heroes, he led the fight to rename Reid Avenue after Malcolm X, Sumner Avenue after Marcus Garvey, and Fulton to Harriet Ross Tubman Boulevard. Clever, creating the precedent, eh? Related: Fighting In the Spirit of Sonny Abubadika Carson [Amsterdam News]

Queens Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry for Being a Yuppie

Astoria: Locals find it odd (and oddly brave) that Queens wannabes aren't afraid to call themselves yuppies. [Astorians] Brooklyn Heights: Look for a new floating swimming pool to show up between Piers 4 and 5 near Joralemon and Furman Streets over July 4 weekend. [NewYorkology] Bushwick: The Bodega Wars: coming to a Brooklyn neighborhood near you. [BushwickBK] Downtown Brooklyn: Plans to reopen, supersize, and add retail space to a shuttered detention house are getting slammed. [Brooklyn Eagle via McBrooklyn] Forest Hills: Who'd have thought that this un-hip hood's simply getting a Trader Joe's would be enough to elicit sour grapes from Brooklynites? [Forest Hills 72] Fort Greene: Thanks to pressure from a neighborhood Website, Zipcar is finally here! [Clinton Hill Blog ] Harlem: Up here, you can buy the bootleg version of everything premium … including Magnum condoms. [Uptown Flavor] Upper East Side: An elegant dinner party right in the cracker aisle in the city's classiest Korean market. [Upper East Side Informer]

Brighton Beach Restaurant Manager Fights Thief, and Loses

Brighton Beach: Manager of Little Odessa restaurant Tatiana wrestled a thief with gun, but the intruder got away with holiday-weekend earnings of $100,000 after brandishing a knife. [NYDN] Chelsea: There’s speculation that Little Seoul has closed, but it sounds like the restaurant just took a long weekend. [Blog Chelsea] Greenwich Village: Hopes that Cedar Tavern would return from the condo-development grave seem dashed, though neighbors don't seem too disappointed. [Gothamist] Park Slope: Bierkraft’s free “Bizarro” beer tasting at 7 p.m. tonight includes cheese pairings. [Brooklyn Record] Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Met Foods open! [Across the Park]

Nello Buys ‘Page Six’ on the Cheap; Jody Williams Trying Not to Sweat It

Nello’s Nello Ballan gives Richard Johnson a $1,000 gift, and fifteen "Page Six" mentions of Ballan’s restaurant later, the embattled gossip column has the devil to pay. [NYT] Jody Williams claims not to have read Frank Bruni’s review of Morandi, though she knows that people are laying odds on the date of her departure. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine] Related: Not So Bene [NYM] Restaurant-industry lobbyists express a not-unexpected disappointment with the federal minimum-wage increase passed by Congress, finding it “entirely out of place” in a war-spending bill. [Nation's Restaurant News]

Minister and Hip-Hop Pioneer Kurtis Blow Downs Burgers Two at a Time

Harlem-born Kurtis Blow was one of the first rappers to hit the mainstream when he worked with Grandmaster Flash, Reverend Run, and Russell Simmons in the early eighties. Indeed his bio describes him as “rap’s first millionaire.” These days he’s a hip-hop minister (he has churches in New York, L.A., and Miami) and tours the country performing his groundbreaking hits as well as new cuts such as “God Bless Ya Ma.” So what does the author of “The Breaks” eat on his snack breaks? “I love my Nutter Butters,” he says, “and candy bars like PayDay and Butterfingers.” We asked him what else he ate during the week leading up to a rare hometown club appearance tonight.

SushiSamba Manager Opening His Own Restaurant in Midtown West

Clinton Hill: A walk-through of the mysterious chocolate bar. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: Gemma in the Bowery Hotel looks set to open but will probably launch with private parties. [Down by the Hipster] Flatiron: Porky’s nabbed for selling alcohol to minors. [Blog Chelsea] Gowanus: Whole Foods spearheads construction on contaminated site. [Gowanus Lounge] Harlem: Manna’s, trying to become the Starbucks of soul food, opens its fourth location. [Uptown Flavor] Midtown East: Aquavit’s weeklong herring buffet to celebrate the fish’s migration starts June 11. [Grub Street] Midtown West: A former manager and the chef of SushiSamba on Park will open their own Japanese restaurant near the Ed Sullivan Theater. [Restaurant Girl] The kosher falafel joint House of Pita is opening “another location” two blocks from the original; it’s not clear if this means they’re moving or expanding. [Midtown Lunch] Soho: The opening of Lola Is Soul restaurant may be further delayed now that the owners have ousted weepy Top Chef alum Dave Martin. [Eater]

Former Clinton Hill Porn Store to Become Euro Eatery

Clinton Hill: A former porn shop on Myrtle Avenue will become a European-style cafe, a term open to interpretation. The only notable physical change to the space is an exterior paint job. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: Ramen Setagaya at 141 First Avenue will be ready to open when Con Edison turns the gas on. [VV] Former captain at Gramercy Tavern and Picholine Rob Ziser has opened his own restaurant out of a subleased kitchen at Company bar. [The Strong Buzz] Gramercy: Delayed high-end Asian restaurant Wakiya in the Gramercy Park Hotel is coming and hiring. [Eater] Harlem: A Coldstone Creamery on 125th Street could give Mister Softee an ice-cream headache. [Uptown Flavor] Park Slope: Michael Hearst recorded Songs for Ice Cream Trucks in his converted one-bedroom, but it looks like his jingles won’t make it to the big time. [Brooklyn Record] Tribeca: Brandy Library is hosting a free cognac tasting tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. And afterward begin the piano stylings of Joel Forrester. [Brandy Library]

Standing Up for Double-Parking Rights in the Slope

Boerum Hill: Neglected Thomas Green Park could become a $4 million skate park. [Brooklyn Paper] Forest Hills: There's a stop-work order on the demolition of a historic 72nd Avenue townhouse, but will the developer behind the demo honor it? [Forest Hills 72] Harlem: A cute black and white Chihuahua named Bugzy has gone missing. Have you seen the adorable uptown critter? [Harlem Fur] Park Slope: The 9th Street bike-lane opponents fear they'll lose their ability to double park. [I'm Seeing Green] Times Square: Even with guns, drugs, and hookers freely traded there, the Aladdin Hotel is still not the worst-ranked inn in the city. [NewYorkology] Williamsburg: It came in the night. The long-dreaded pile driver for massive Billyburg condo devo the Edge, that is, heralding a massive project that will deprive locals of their waterfront view. [i'm not sayin', i'm just saying']

Sam Talbot Has a Mystery Suitor; Marco Pierre White Is Still the Man

Sam Talbot bailed from Spitzer’s Corner because some powerful restaurateur made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and something big is in the offing. [NYP] Marco Pierre White’s rags-to-riches memoir continues to inspire struggling cooks on both sides of the Atlantic. [Gothamist] Related: Batali, Bourdain, and Ramsay Mentor to Finally Take on America? [Grub Street] A shocking new study reveals that — are you sitting down? — there are more bodegas and fast-food restaurants in Harlem than on the Upper East Side. [NYP]

New Bourgeoisie Magnet Opens in Harlem

The development of Harlem is old news, but there are still days when it catches you by surprise. The last time we were up on 133rd Street, we were walking off ribs from Dinosaur, and the only thing there was an iffy-looking garage. Now? The 6000-square-feet Hudson River Cafe, a massive outdoor eatery where neighborhood grandees can repose in the sun and eat yellowtail sashimi, caviar, smoked fish mousse, and other upscale treats. The restaurant also offers original cocktails named for local sites (a Grant’s Tomb, anybody?) and a grab bag of local Hudson Valley products. It would be easy to make sport of Hudson River Cafe and say, “There goes the neighborhood.” More likely, it’s where the neighborhood will go to brunch. Hudson River Cafe, 697 W. 133rd St., nr. Twelfth Ave.; 212-491-9111

Too Bad ‘Star Search’ Got Canceled

Rapathon/American Girl auditions
From the nymag.com video team, a double bill for the ages. Both feature hungry showbiz strivers ready to duke it out for a shot at the big time … but in only one are the contenders clutching dressed-up dolls. That's right: Up at Harlem's Hip Hop Culture Center, a hundred M.C.'s took turns at the mike for 24 hours straight in the first-ever "rapathon" — while a gaggle of mostly blonde preteen divas laid siege to the American Girl Place for a film audition. The former is decidedly PG ("No curses, no n-word, no b-word"); the latter, which features a girl saying "I don't want to sound conceited, but people tell me I'm talented," somewhat obscene. American Girls Audition [NYM] 24-Hour Rapathon [NYM]

It's All Downhill From Morningside Heights

Boerum Hill: It's not enough that the Brooklyn House of Detention could reopen. Besides room for 720 inmates, look for two towers with residential or commercial space. [Brooklyn Daily Eagle via mcbrooklyn] Clinton Hill: Residents of the area's southern flank, rejoice … a bank (a North Fork) is finally coming to Fulton and Clinton! [Brooklyn Record] Greenpoint: Residents come together to complain to a building inspector about excessive noise and damage caused by construction at 110 Green Street. [Newyorkshitty] Harlem: The Beaumont, a 63-unit Art Deco apartment building on Riverside Drive, has been sold for just over $20 million. [Uptown Flavor] Morningside Heights: This area has the greatest number of bike commuters — after Park Slope, of course. [Streetsblog] Park Slope: A local brothel is undergoing a renovation. But what will the building be now? [Curbed]

Wild Salmon Starts Its Upstream Journey Strongly; Craftsteak Upgraded

Alan Richman has a few qualms about Wild Salmon – its reason for being, for example – but likes both the food (except for the sauces) and the service (when it’s not too friendly). Given how ready Richman is to knock restaurants, owner Jeffrey Chodorow has to feel pretty good about this one. [Bloomberg] Related: Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, ‘Pun Intended’ [Grub Street] The newly revamped Craftsteak and Craftbar get rereviewed by Bruni, who awards the less than the white-hot former a much-needed second star, and the latter, “more or less back on track” after earlier troubles, a (borderline) single star. [NYT] Time Out’s Randall Lane lays four stars (out of six) on Gilt, finding Chris Lee’s cooking admirable all around, if less risky than that of his predecessor, Paul Liebrandt, who still keeps popping up whenever the restaurant is discussed. [TONY] Related: Gramercy Rehab [NYM]

City Gears Up to Better Police Labor Violations; Beef Threatens Fish at Le Bernardin

City Council to introduce a bill giving authorities more power to crack down on restaurant labor violations like the alleged ones at Saigon Grill. [MetroNY] Related: 100 Students to Protest Saigon Grill [Grub Street] Kobe beef, having once appeared on Le Bernardin’s menu, is taking over and chasing the fish away – a fact chef Eric Ripert is less than thrilled about. [NYP] Bizarre details of Mr. Chow’s abuse emerge from the lawsuit, including information about one employee who was forced to lie on the floor and be menaced and even kicked by the diminutive restaurateur. [Gawker]

Will Stuy Town Be Reborn As Luxury Condos?

Carroll Gardens: Retired parents get bored with the suburbs and move here. There goes the neighborhood. [The Brooklyn Paper] Downtown Brooklyn: Tillary Street might have a bike lane, but you can barely see it under all the cars. [McBrooklyn via Brooklyn Heights Blog] Greenpoint: Horrifying new trend: tossing your smoke detector out back when it starts to beep, instead of just changing the batteries. [Newyorkshitty] Harlem: An agent for a newish co-op was canned after his employers found out he was also using the place as HQ for a stripper and escort service. [Uptown Flavor] Park Slope: Get ready for another tower on the corner of Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue. [Gowanus Lounge] Stuyvesant Town: There's a rumor going around that Tishman Speyer wants to tear down this middle-class enclave within five years and replace it with 150 luxury condos. [Curbed]

The Coolification of Gramercy

Astoria: So are these springtime infestations silverfish or house centipedes? [Astorians] Chelsea: A lost-dog notice brings out the area's tough love. [Blog Chelsea] Gramercy: Perhaps only the launching of a new Philippe Starck condo can bring hipster D.J.'s the Misshapes to a godforsakenly unhip stretch of East 23rd Street. [Curbed] Greenpoint: People waiting for a condo at 110 Green Street are forced to sleep among the pile drivers. [Newyorkshitty] Harlem: A new ecofriendly housing development will be not for rich yuppies but for ex-prisoners readjusting to life on the outside. How refreshing, frankly. [Multi-Housing News via Uptown Flavor] Red Hook: That dangerous corner en route to the Fairway has finally got a much-demanded traffic light. [Brooklyn Record]

Obama Set to Score First New York Endorsement

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New York is Hillary Clinton's home turf, but tomorrow Barack Obama will receive his first formal endorsement from a New York elected official, State Senator Bill Perkins, according to a knowledgeable source. Obama has been able to poach several big-money backers from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination — he's got several more fund-raisers scheduled in the city this weekend — but Perkins, a longtime Harlem politician, will be the first elected to formally support the Illinois senator. The endorsement is likely to ruffle the feathers of Harlem boss Charlie Rangel, a Hillary supporter, who recently declared, "I don't know Obama supporters in New York." It's not the first time Perkins has gone against the Harlem establishment: He supported Howard Dean in the 2004 primary, when Rangel was supporting General Wesley Clark. "It's all posturing, all game playing," said one Harlem political strategist. "He's trying to make the eye in the sky look at him." Perkins hasn't returned a call for comment. —Geoffrey Gray

Natives Frighten Yuppies in Carroll Gardens

Bedford Stuyvesant: CW11 hired graffiti artists to paint billboards for Everybody Hates Chris. They didn't hire the other graffiti artists to bomb the ads. [Razor Apple] Carroll Gardens: Old Brooklyn and new Brooklyn walk into a bar. New Brooklyn gets scared and leaves. Back to the Zombie Hut. [Brooklyn Record] Clinton Hill: So it looks like a greenhouse, but it's made of metal tubing. What is this place on Emerson for? [ClintonHillBlog] Flatbush: Depressed that that blast of spring is fading away? Take heart … the cherry trees are starting to blossom in Brooklyn Botanic Garden. [Gothamist] Harlem: Yet another New York Sports Club may come to the area, this time at 115th and Fifth. [Uptown Flavor] Kingsbridge: In a few weeks, the city will have racked up $1.5 mil in fines for putting off the building of that dang filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. Ouch. [NYP via West Bronx Blog] Prospect Heights: Old parapets are falling on the demo sites that will be the Atlantic Yards complex. [Curbed]

Rebuild Your Own Apartment in Hamilton Heights

552 W. 141st St.
Budget buyers willing to take on what is, in real-estate parlance, a classic "handyman's special" (it's a wreck) should take a look at 552 West 141st Street, a two-bedroom on a picturesque block of Hamilton Heights. Harlem has always offered deals, especially for those unafraid of major renovations, but this seems a better value than most at $200,000 for 1,000 square feet, a price not seen since, well, before Harlem saw a different renaissance. The catch? "The apartment needs some lovin'," says Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Bill Pfaff. "There's no kitchen. The bathroom's the only part that works." Plus, it's a Housing Development Fund Corp. building, which means there are restrictions placed on the income of purchasers. In this case, a single buyer can't make more than seven times the combined yearly total of the maintenance ($481 per month) and utilities (approximately $250 per month). (Couples multiply by eight; a family of three by nine.) So if you make more than $61,500, you're probably out. And that's not all: The co-op, which owns the unit, wants an all-cash transaction — check with your attorney for the reasons they may demand this — but Pfaff says they're "very willing" to negotiate.
—S. Jhoanna Robledo