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Smoke Joint

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Fort Greene Restaurant Scene's Crescendo; De Niro Hotel So Close You Can Book It

Astoria: The Southwest restaurant that's been under construction near the Ditmars stop on 31st Street is named Mojave and opens tonight. [Joey in Astoria via Astorians] East Village: The Mermaid Inn reopens tomorrow after a one-week renovation, which may have been inspired by Time Out‘s mouse sightings. [Eater] Fort Greene: New restaurants the Smoke Joint and 67 Burger have joined older favorites like iCi and Thomas Beisl to build a thriving restaurant scene near the Brooklyn Academy of Music. [NYT] Tribeca: De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel is now taking reservations for the spring. [NewYorkology via Eater]

One Little Piggy Market Coming to Fort Greene

Central Park: Dumping various pies into a bucket and eating the result is the next trend in picnicking. [Above the Doorframe] East Village: Rickshaw Dumpling Bar’s second location will open on East 8th Street. [Eat for Victory/VV] Fort Greene: From the owners of the Smoke Joint comes Little Piggy (Market), which will offer a mix of southern specialties like grits, biscuits, and hams when it opens August 1. [TONY] Lower East Side: Robin Romm of literary magazine One Story (that’s right, they only publish one story per issue) has chosen the Manhattan as the cocktail to be served for $3 during tonight's reading at Pianos. [The L Magazine] Tribeca: Daiquiris will be the “endangered cocktail” being supported (read heavily consumed) this Saturday at the Brandy Library bash to celebrate the birthday of one Ernest Hemingway. [Grub Street] West Village: The relatively tame B.E.T with ground brisket, fried egg, and Tabasco won last night’s Between the Buns burger cook-off at Rare Bar & Grill. [ A Hamburger Today]

Po Opens This Week in Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens: The Brooklyn outlet of Po in the West Village is opening this Thursday. [The Gowanus Lounge] Chelsea: Del Posto spared from further hassles by the Related Companies, who’ve just purchased the property and will honor the restaurant’s original lease. [Newsday] Fort Greene: Smoke Joint barbecue spearheads a mysterious expansion that looks more promising than mere extra seating. [Eat for Victory/VV] Harlem: New Asian-influenced Mexican restaurant China de Puebla has launched weekend brunch. [Grub Street] Prospect Park: Those looking for free-range dinner should keep their eyes peeled; a rogue chicken on the loose has not yet been apprehended. [The Gowanus Lounge] Tribeca: The menu’s posted, the griddle’s fired up: The New York City Hot Dog Company on Chambers and Church is open! [Grub Street]

Ssäm Bar Vindicated; Haute Cuisine Gets No Love

Momofuku Ssäm Bar wins two stars (!) from Bruni and completes a success story that seemed pretty unlikely a few months ago, when the place was selling Asian burritos to a handful of customers. The review is also a watershed in the changing culture of restaurants: Formal is now officially out, casual now officially legit. [NYT] Related: The I Chang [NYM] Meanwhile, Randall Lane is a lone dissenter, calling out Ssäm Bar for its unevenness, lack of focus, and the steep prices of some of its main dishes. On the whole, though, he seems to have missed the point — David Chang's loose, unfettered approach to good cooking. [TONY] Steve Cuozzo joins in the chorus of approval greeting Wayne Nish’s transformation of the stuffy March into the swinging, fusion-y Nish. The message: Remain formal at your own peril. (See reviews of Dennis Foy and Gordon Ramsay.) [NYP] Related: Bedeviled [NYM]

Bruni Meets Neroni; Another Blah Review for Ramsay

Making sure to mention chef Jason Neroni's desperate call for Beard nominations — the one revealed on Grub Street — Bruni gives Porchetta a single star and calls Neroni “overly insistent.” [NYT] In all-tofu dessert spot Kyotofu, Meehan finds a pudding paradise. Though he issues some of the most enthusiastic praise we've heard from him lately, he also cautions that the savory dishes are just “perfunctory.” [NYT] Wobbly tables don't get in the way of Paul Adams’s appreciation of new Soho Moroccan joint Babouche. [NYS] Cuozzo loves Pera, makes it sound as if it's the first-ever high-end Turkish restaurant. Orhan Yegan of Divane and Beyoglu must have steam coming out of his ears. [NYP] Sietsema rarely meets a barbecue he doesn’t like, and Brooklyn's Smoke Joint proves no exception. The evil Cookshack smoker, condemned in our 2006 wish list, makes a cameo appearance. [VV] Randall Lane delivers yet another approving but ultimately unenthusiastic review of the “impeccable, if clinical” Gordon Ramsay. The Brit just can't win! [TONY] Related: Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon

Kosher Eatery Opens, Spurs Challenge to Bar-B-Jews

We recently happened on Milk 'N Honey NYC, a brand-new — not to mention clean, shiny, and completely kosher — midtown lunchery. Panini, sushi, pizza, and calzone: Is there any food you can't find in a kosher restaurant these days? We just wrote about New York's "Bar-B-Jew" phenomenon; now we're wondering why none of those guys are keeping it kashruth. As far as we know, there's no technical prohibition against smoking meat in Judaic law, and the Jewish people's fondness for beef brisket is well established. (Last year Erica Marcus wrote a piece in Newsday on that very subject; unfortunately, it's not available online.) Meanwhile, a reader wrote in to remind us of a Bar-B-Jew we neglected to mention — Ben Grossman, of the Smoke Joint in Brooklyn. There are so many of these fellas we can't even keep up! The question is, which one of them is ready to take the kosher challenge? Milk 'N Honey NYC, 22 W. 45th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-764-4400. Earlier: Barbecue: The New Kosher Food? [Grub Street]

Mr. Nasty Throws Open the Phone Lines; Mr. Hospitality Throws Punches

In today's dining dirt, Spain comes to Manhattan, barbecue comes to Fort Greene, and Mr. Hospitality brings the pain. • Danny "Mr. Hospitality" Meyer ponders hugs, serves up a knuckle sandwich. [Esquire] • Gordon "Mr. Nasty" Ramsay opens up the lines; a feeding frenzy ensues. [Eater] • Pushcart-prize finalists announced. [Street Vendor Project] • Picholine buddies open up a Fort Greene smoke joint serving up "real NYC barbecue." Whatever that is, exactly. [Strong Buzz] • On a sobering note, Michael Pollan forecasts the dangers of centralized food production and the specter of increased regulation in the veggie world: "Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of 'kitchens' did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist." [NYT]