The Lower East Side, a.k.a. the Lower Eastpacking District, was never exactly a hotbed of haute gastronomy. But as Rob and Robin note in this Short List, it's gotten to the point that just Rivington Street alone has seen everything from pizza to Cambodian noodles appear. Below, a link to four new places worth trying in the "Rivington Street corridor."
Beyond Pickles and Matzo [NYM]
• In openings, Rob and Robin give pride of place to this week's biggie, the British superchef Gordon Ramsay's maiden New York venture, Gordon Ramsay at the London; signal the arrival of Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, a relatively ambitious Turkish restaurant in midtown; and acknowledge a new red-sauce restaurant, Dean's Family Style Restaurant and Pizzeria (801 Second Ave., nr. 43rd St.; 212-878-9600).
New York Restaurant Openings and Buzz
• Gael Greene goes to Metro Marché at the Port Authority and gives what has to be the best review ever received by a restaurant in a bus station: "Amazingly good brasserie dishes at astonishingly gentle prices."
• Given that so much restaurant profit comes from the bar, you have to wonder why it took so long for restaurants to attach lounges. Rob and Robin look at four new ones: the Greek Kava Lounge, EN Shochu Bar (Japanese), and the eclectic Monday Room and Wined Up wine bars. All open over the next couple of weeks.
Rooms With Booze
Not that we would know, but apparently major exertions like Sunday's New York Marathon require vast expenditures of energy. The experienced athlete prepares for these with a carbohydrate-heavy meal. In this week's Short List, Rob and Robin give four places to indulge in mass quantities of pasta.
Short List: Carbo Loads
When Laurent Tourondel opened BLT Steak — the flagship of his burgeoning BLT empire — food snobs took one look at the glorified meat-and-potatoes menu and winced. What's a fine French chef doing serving stacks of onion rings and hunks of unadulterated USDA Prime? Giving the people what they want, bien sur. And Tourondel, who made his name at the French seafood specialist Cello, has built a booming industry doing just that, with variations on a crowd-pleasing theme at BLT Fish, BLT Prime, and as of yesterday's surreptitious opening, BLT Burger.
Slavering outer-borough Chowhounders have recently been storming the unmarked gates of Carroll Gardens's newest brick-oven pizzeria, a rustic establishment being compared on that contentious, cultlike Website to such sacred pizza cows as Di Fara's. It's not only the posters who've evoked that mythic name — chef-owner Mark Iacono has as well. "My favorite pizza is Di Fara," says Iacono, who looks a little like a Pope of Greenwich Village–era Eric Roberts. "The recipe is pretty much the same. Difference is, mine is made in a brick oven." His pie is also imbued with a feisty smokiness, courtesy of a wood fire, and has a flavorful crust that's comparatively soft and puffy, closer to classic coal-oven practitioners like Totonno's and Grimaldi's than Di Fara's. "I call it old-school-Brooklyn style," he says. "That's what I'm going for."
New York Magazine has gone Spain-crazy this week. Adam Platt sates his bottomless hunger at Boqueria, and Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld interview Spain's most illustrious chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Let Grub Street pile on, then, with talk of the secret society of Spanish pork.
This society may be unofficial, but we belong to it. It is made of men and women who have tasted the meat of the celebrated pata negra, or black-foot pig, and will do anything for more. "Once you taste ibérico, you can't compare it to anything else," Bar Jamón chef Andy Nusser has said. The society's holy grail, though, remains tantalizingly out of reach for Americans even ones with a deep affinity for Spain.
This week, Rob and Robin report on an unlikely but welcome addition to New York's restaurant scene, Australian pub Sheep Station, which is located in Brooklyn's version of the outback — between Gowanus and Park Slope. Perhaps our intrepid food editors are warming to Australia — they give Sheep Station a thumbs-up for its cool room and hearty dishes, and earlier this year, they penned "Australian for 'Food,'" a primer on the nation's cuisine.
Also in Openings this week: East Village wine shop Tinto Fino, West Village bistro Cafe Cluny, and Soho brasserie Bar Martignetti.
Openings: Sheep Station [NYM]