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Chelsea Clearview West Finally Cedes Dominance to Chelsea Clearview

Chelsea: The School of Visual Arts has acquired the Chelsea West Cinemas on 23rd Street for use as auditoriums … and the school's acting chair, design legend Milton Glaser (who did both the "I Heart NY" logo and the original New York Magazine emblem), will redo the place inside and out. Cool! [Mediabistro via Blog Chelsea] Cobble Hill: Did some of Spitzer's ho brokers live here or in Brooklyn Heights? Either way, kinda classy hoods to be associated with this tawdriness, if you ask us. [Cobble Hill Blog] Coney Island: The city will replace huge, ugly, hazardous gaps in the boardwalk with a concrete-plastic wood-look-alike material … but, fakaktaishly, not until after the summer season. [NYDN]

BiCE’s New Milanese Bistro Open in Midtown West; Gary Robbins Preparing for West Village Debut

Bedford-Stuyvesant: Egg didn’t make this list of top southern eats, but Five Spot Soul Food at 459 Myrtle Avenue was picked as a fave since dishes like Kentucky Turkey Chops and Charleston Low Country Smothered Chicken "sound good" even if they’re not necessarily authentic classics. [Gridskipper] Chelsea: Klee Brasserie's open for brunch and dinner on Easter, and you can order the "Thinly Sliced Easter Ham & Bio Egg," which combines honey-glazed ham, deviled eggs, and capers, at both seatings. [Grub Street] Lower East Side: The new vegetarian restaurant Broadway East adds to its sustainability cred by featuring local beer and wine. [Zagat Buzz] Midtown East: The first soft-shell crabs of the season are now available at the Oyster Bar. [Grub Street] Midtown West: Bistro Milano from team BiCE has opened at 1350 Sixth Avenue, and sidewalk seating opening this spring will double the restaurant’s 70-cover capacity. [TONY] West Village: "Chef Gary Robins was the best thing to happen to the most recent Russian Tea Room relaunch. So, naturally, he was fired." But, you’ll be able to taste his cooking downtown this spring, when rustic restaurant Sheridan Square opens at 134 Seventh Avenue South. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]

Cheap Food Still Available in Astoria; Bronx Pizza Will Get Better

Astoria: Wow, cheap-eats prices may be going up in elsewhere, but at Omonia (the café that baked the elaborate wedding cake for My Big Fat Greek Wedding), you can get a $12 brunch that includes an entrée, dessert, a morning cocktail, and coffee, tea, or juice. (And it’s good.) [Foodista] Bronx: Peter Meehan found someone to drive him to Trattoria Zero Otto Nove on Arthur Avenue to try the margherita that’s been getting blog buzz as "the best Neapolitan pizza in New York City.” It’s good, he says, but needs work (and less sweet sauce). [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Slice’s Adam Kuban, Ed Levine’s, and DJ Bubbles also tried Zero Otto Nove and found potential not perfection. The grilled pizza from Coals at 1888 Eastchester Road was also dubbed "surprisingly good" during the same trip. [Slice] Lower East Side: Chubo has closed, and it looks like it’s going to be turned into a Japanese cooking school that will sell its pastries out of a flagship café by this summer. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Upper East Side: Chef Michael Vernon has left Geisha to consult on new Serafina restaurants. [Strong Buzz] Midtown East: The owner of now-closed Portofino Grille will open a steakhouse called Creston’s Bar & Grill in the same space come May. [Zagat Buzz] Upper West Side: Spigolo chef Scott Fratangelo loves Land Thai restaurant. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Williamsburg: The state of neighborhood pizza here is weak overall, evidence being leftover slices you don’t even want to eat. [A Brooklyn Life]

Modernity Encroaches on Katz’s Once Again

katz's deli
Katz’s, like all sacred spaces, is an affront to the forces of progress; and it seems that the 21st century is intent on battering all its most glorious traditions with the gale-force winds of the Zeitgeist. First came the real-estate boom and, with it, the threat that some developer will buy the place and build a giant condo there. Then, earlier this winter, the Health Department sent its spiteful functionaries in to condemn the mother of all delis for selling salami the way they have for 120 years. In a ritual of degradation, the Health Department poured bleach on the precious beef sausages, to ensure they would never be consumed. (A similar atrocity occurred last year at Il Buco and is remembered in food circles as the Great Soppressata Massacre.)

Ghost Towns and Old Bones

Flushing: Time to buy a new bathing suit! Or, um, ice skates? The plush, $66.3 million Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink is opening today. [Curbed] Lower East Side: Loud messy construction from Jason Pomeranc’s hotel at 200 Allen Street and Morris Platt’s 26-story condo on Orchard Street has turned the surrounding blocks into "a ghost town." [NYO] Lower Manhattan: Signs that speak of the World Trade Center in the present tense will be removed. [NYT]

Catty Males Shake Beatrice; Charcuterie Mania

Clinton Hill: There are a few places in the nabe to find gluten-free products, but one celiac sufferer would like to find out about any others. [Clinton Hill Blog] Lower East Side: Video of a Tailor bartender doing his thing. [Snack] Midtown East: Former Savoy chef Matt Weingarten's year-long plans to start dinner service at Café St. Bart’s will come to fruition on May 5. [Zagat] Upper West Side: Bar Boulud may claim the top charcuterie in town (though Mia Dona’s stepping up), but you can also find some tasty stand-ins at Café d’Alsace and elsewhere, including Fort Greene’s Stonehome Wine Bar. [Citysearch] West Village: Spencer Morgan of the New York Observer supposedly slapped Hud Morgan from Men’s Vogue at the Beatrice Inn on Wednesday night because the latter didn’t respond to the former’s apology e-mail. A true New York noble. [Gawker]

The Lower East Side's Latest Sustainable Restaurant; Plus, Rayuela's New Takeaway Outlet

Clinton Hill: Don’t be fooled by Met Foods window painting claiming the supermarket has the “[l]argest fresh organic products in the area.” You’ll be “hard-pressed to find any (just the usual half-rotten produce they usually carry). It’s clearly a reaction to the threat of all the discerning customers shopping at Green Planet.” [Clinton Hill Blog] Greenwich Village: The Starbucks on 8th Street between Fifth and University is closing and has posted in its window a bizarre, farewell letter of sorts, which begins, "This thing we have together, it’s bigger than this place." And in a weird way, the epistle is spot-on. [Gothamist] Harlem: Where can a gal just get a beer and a burger in this gentrifying area? [Uptown Flavor] Lower East Side: Rayuela is expanding with a Latin takeout spot set to open at the end of March in the former LoSide space. [Eater] Lee Gross’s organic eatery Broadway East opens March 7, and like this week’s ecofriendly thirst quenchers, "filters and carbonates its own water." [Strong Buzz] Freemans will totally let you order artichoke dip before you place your entrée order; they changed their policy two years ago after Bruni’s "Satisfactory" review. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

New Novel Immortalizes Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Or Does It?

We’re currently reading Lush Life, novelist Richard Price’s tale of life and death on the LES. The plot centers on Eric Cash, the manager of Café Berkman, a thinly veiled take on Schiller’s Liquor Bar. At least, we think it’s Schiller’s:
On bright quiet mornings like this, when Berkmann’s was empty, delivered from the previous night’s overpacked boozy franticness, the place was an air palace, and there was nowhere better to be in this neighborhood than sitting in a lacquered wicker chair immersed in the serene luxury of a café au lait and the New York Times, sunlight splashing off the glazed ecru tiles, the racks of cryptically stencil-numbered wine bottles, the industrial-grade chicken-wired glass and partially desilvered mirrors, all found in various warehouses in New Jersey, by the owner, Harry Steele: restaurant dressed as theater dressed as nostalgia.
Does this sound like Schiller’s to you? Or is this a composite of other downtown nightspots? Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

Sharks on Coney Island! And Expensive Ones, at That

Bowery: No sooner had this lovable bum moved out of the street box he lived in and into a proper $300-a-month room than his troubles began. [NYT] Bushwick: Behold the new 'swhick-specific haiku trend: "Dude with the corn rows/Stop selling crack, you scumbag/Sell good pot instead." [BushwickBK] Coney Island: The fancy exterior redo for the New York Aquarium may have to be, uh, scaled back due to a planned $64 million exhibition on sharks. [Coney Island via Curbed]

‘Times’ Releases Ethnic Grocery List; Porter House Looking for a Stellar Wine Director

Astoria: McLoughlin’s on Broadway at 31st Street is featuring the German lager Spaten through February. [Joey in Astoria] Chelsea: Morimoto’s $24.07 prix fixe lunch deal is more filling and generous than you might expect. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Clinton Hill: If you’re too “bored by the fresh produce, too cold/lazy to trek to Fairway” to cook for yourself in winter like this blogger, here are some of the nabe’s good takeout options, including Luz and Bombay Masala. [Clinton Hill Blog] Columbus Circle: Porter House New York is looking for a new wine director now that veteran in the biz Beth Von Benz has moved on to new projects. [Grub Street] Lower East Side: This list of ethnic groceries includes Pueblo Deli at 129-135 Ridge Street where you’ll find “brittle, tasteless cassabe (a yuca bread Dominicans find neither brittle nor tasteless)” but also “‘merengue’ flavored Country Club soda, Induveca salami, Bay Rum Constanza antiseptic, and candles dedicated to saints or those who may become them.” [NYT via Serious Eats] Times Square: Cafe Edison has replaced its peachy-pink paint job with a nice soft tan color, and it’s “swell.” [Lost City] Upper East Side: Bardolino at 78th Street and Second Avenue suffered interior and exterior damage caused by a fire last week, but they’ll reopen this weekend. [Upper East Side Informer]

Allen & Delancey Gives Area Roués the Late-Night Menu They Have Been Waiting For

There’s something about Allen & Delancey that seems … nocturnal. The room, even in the early hours, evokes jaded roués, furtive assignations, and the airless ennui of adultery. So the debut of a stylish late-night menu is apropos. Chef Neil Ferguson tells us that the community board extended the restaurant’s liquor license to 2 a.m. “Anything in that room is sexy,” Ferguson says. “This food, I think, is more for soaking up alcohol.” That may be, but the menu is more than a little exciting. There’s a braised lamb neck, rabbit croquettes, and even, in the dessert section, a milk sorbet served with hot cookies made to order. Late-night service begins at 11:20 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, starting tonight. Allen & Delancey late-night menu

Porto Rico to Open New Locations in Williamsburg, Essex Street Market

Porto Rico, one of the city’s best (and most affordable) coffee stores, is about to add two more locations. Owner Peter Longo tells us that one branch is coming to Williamsburg, at 636 Grand Street, not far from the company’s roasting facility — a good thing, too, as Williamsburg definitely needs more coffee for its growing number of idle intellectuals. The other Porto Rico will open at the Essex Street Market, but in a space smaller than Longo expected. (He wanted the adjacent spot too, but the city awarded it to the Lower East Side Girls Club, who will sell baked goods there.) “Cookies and coffee go really well together,” he says, resignedly. Both new locations will open on April 1; drop in for a tasting anytime.

Michael Cerveris Will Be Spending Valentine's Day With Vampires, His Dog

Michael Cerveris
Last night, at a benefit for Women's Expressive Theater, the cool old shul on the Lower East Side that's the Angel Orensanz cultural center hosted short plays about love or its complications by women playwrights like Brooke Berman and Jenny Lyn Bader. The plays starred folks like Gretchen Mol, Martha Plimpton, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Cerveris. After the shows, we asked Cerveris (star of Broadway masterpieces like Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy, and Titanic) what he's been up to lately. Apparently, he's been flying between here and New Orleans a lot to shoot the film Cirque du Freak, based on the popular young-adult Vampire Blood book trilogy ("It's like Harry Potter with vampires"). He's co-starring across from Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek, and John C. Reilly. Since we don't know much about sucking blood, but we do know a little about sucking chest wounds, we asked him about Valentine's Day. Has he ever put himself out on a limb for love? "My whole life I've been making grand gestures," he said wearily. "And they meet with intermittent success, but often abject failure." Oh, no! "In the long-term, I'm still going home to my dog, Gibson." And his plans for Thursday, the 14th? "I'm flying back from New Orleans. Unless there's a particularly lonely stewardess, I'm probably looking at me and Gibson that night," he said. "She appreciates my presence in a consistent way. So maybe I'll get her a red...bone or something." —Tim Murphy

Fondue Contest Makes February Bearable

Fondue
If you miss the heart-attack snacks that come with football season, here’s another event for your calendar: the second annual Fondue Takedown at 5 p.m. on February 24 at the Slipper Room. Matt Timms (the man responsible for the Chili Takedown) provides Bunsen burners, serving trays, bread, and wooden skewers while you bring the cheese and whatever else might be part of your “recipe.” Last year, Timms’s roommate mixed three types of “dairy-style cheese product” and Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Fucking horrible,” Timms recalled. Another contestant experimented with mozzarella, Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, but found it wouldn’t melt properly. Last year’s winner was a culinary student who triumphed with a simple Roquefort fondue. The audience votes: $10 buys you a ballot and unlimited tasting. The 2008 victor will leave with $50 and a plastic trophy commissioned especially for the event. So bring your recipe or your critical mouth. —Alex Van Buren

‘Queen of Delancey Street’ Killed in Accident

Dumbo: From the offices of "legendary" Brooklyn Paper editor (and self-encourager) Gersh Kuntzman comes news that he's auctioning off his ankle cast, signed by (self-encouraging) beep Marty Markowitz, with proceeds going to Markowitz's Camp Brooklyn. The bid's up to $41! [eBay] Jamaica: Sure, Jamaica Center may look a bit rough, but you can still haggle over prices here, and find great real-estate deals posted to trees! [Queens Crap] Lower East Side: RIP to Josephine LaPlaca, the 83-year-old "Queen of Delancey Street," who was struck dead by a car Wednesday night at the dangerous intersection of Delancey and Allen. [Gothamist]