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Monkey Town

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Carroll Gardens Has Its Own Empanada Lady

Carroll Gardens: The nabe has an Empanada Lady. [A Brooklyn Life] Clinton Hill: Pillow Cafe, known for its peanut-butter smoothies, is serving alcohol, but, let's hope, not PB shooters. [Eat for Victory/VV] Harlem: Twenty blocks is an unheard-of trek for a Venti Caramel Macchiato; residents near the impending Starbucks at 145th Street wait with bated breath for the opening. [Uptown Flavor] Morningside Heights: Columbia students have gained a Chipotle at 110th and Broadway, and it will kick off its opening on Wednesday, June 27, with a fund-raiser for the university’s athletics. [Grub Street] Nolita: Protest notices have been posted in response to the opening of burlesque club Forty Deuce in the former Little Charlie’s Clam Bar space. [Eater] Williamsburg: Monkey Town’s new chef Ryan Jaronik, from three-star restaurant Masa in Boston, debuts his menu next week. [Grub Street]

Secretive, Cultish Gourmands Aim to Convert New Yorkers

The Ghetto Gourmet, an unfortunately named "restaurant without walls," has been putting on underground dinners cooked by professional chefs in the Bay Area for years. The movement comes to New York November 14 through 16, where, in a break with tradition, the meals will most likely be served at a restaurant, Monkey Town. (Usually the events are more like parties, with people sitting on pillows in someone's home.) You can buy into the phenomenon for $60 and sample the work of two non-executive chefs, employed by major city restaurants we agreed not to name, following their own impulses. "People at our events aren't held together by a place or a menu or a chef or a signature cocktail," says Ghetto Gourmet founder Jeremy Townsend. "It's an urban tribe, a community, based on a single unique, irrepeatable event." Sounds great, though we might pass on the Kool-Aid. The Ghetto Gourmet (scroll down for event links)

Mario Slammed for His Crocs; Zagat's Dinner Prices a Crock?

Plenty of new chefs and openings to report, but the real hubbub is over the persistence of Batali's orange shoes and a certain skinny red book. • Per the Flo chart, Boulud opens a wine bar, Tourondel opens a burger joint, and Neiporent teams up with Bao 111's Michael Huyn for a Vietnamese venture. [NYT] • Batali wears the Crocs for a movie premiere and our friends the Fug Girls declare him "the poster child for this crime against global retinas." Meanwhile Radar reports he dishwashes his 30 pairs. [Chow] • New chefs attempt to breathe life into Gilt (Chris Lee; lobster sliders), Thor (Kevin Pomplun; oxtail fettuccini), and tapas bar Marbella (Fernando Echeverri, squid-stuffed chorizo). [Strong Buzz] • Zagat drops, and Jennifer Leuzzi asks the usual chefs how they feel about landing the usual spots. [NYS] • Meanwhile, Steve Cuozzo complains that Tim and Nina are still lowballing meal costs, which have climbed 14.5 percent at top spots: "Many figures given as the 'average estimate of the price of a dinner with one drink and tip' at specific restaurants still seem more like cheapest-case scenarios than averages." [NYP] • Finally, last call for the chipotle-gorgonzola-black-bean-lasagne at Williamsburg's eatery-cum-screening-room Monkey Town. [Eater]