Fiamma got a fair amount of heat last week, from Grub Street and other food sites, about a reduced menu. But B.R. Guest which did not respond to Grub Street’s requests for comments on the menu until yesterday vehemently disagrees. “No one had updated the Website,” says owner Steve Hanson. “They just got lazy.” We’d hate to be in their shoes now! Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi, meanwhile, explains that the confusion also lay in the fact that the Website wasn’t showing his daily specials or updating the tasting menu. “If you came in and ordered here, it’s the same amount of selections; you can choose from any part of the menu. It’s the same amount of dishes, just listed in a different way,” Trabocchi says. And those luxe ingredients we thought were missing from the menu? Not so, says Trabocchi. “We are using foie gras, truffles, Wagyu beef, ossabaw pig, and Grimaud Farm duck.” (The langoustines, which we also mentioned as having gone missing, are out of season, Trabocchi explains.) Unfortunately for Fiamma, even a full menu can't sate complaining diners like Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker.
Earlier: Fiamma’s Menu a Fraction of Its Former Self
Sometimes you read an interview and immediately you wish you were friends with the subject. Such is the case with Metromix’s sit-down with Ron Ciavolino, the head of wine studies at the Institute of Culinary Education, and a man who speaks his mind. Our favorite quotes:
• On modern bartenders: “Most bartenders feel like they’re giving away something for nothing if they’re charming. I want schmaltz. There’s no schmaltz.”
• On the downtown wine scene: “You go to those wine bars in Soho, they’re more bowling alleys — there’s no romance. Everybody’s 12 years old.”
• What happens when a bartender allows ice to melt in a shaker: “You hemorrhage through all of your apertures.”
Days of Wine and Poses [Metromix NY]
Sarah Jessica Parker is not confident that her unreleased movie, Spinning Into Butter, will ever see the light of day. Barack Obama and his wife are slated to attend the opening of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Oprah on Thursday. Cosmetics heir Olivia Chantecaille got engaged to banker boyfriend Ren Grady. Gossip Girl's Blake Lively took a bunch of friends shopping to Armani Exchange on Fifth Avenue. Shake Shack is opening a location on the Upper West Side! Sting, Diddy, and Josh Hartnett all hung out at Half Nelson producer Charlie Corwin's birthday at Socialista, which is now back open after the hepatitis scare. Michael Musto will appear on the cover of The Village Voice spoofing this magazine's Lindsay Lohan shoot.
Astoria: Sweet shop Oleput is now offering a lot more savories in the form of small plates and panini. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: Rustik Tavern has a warm interior, but the menu doesn’t sound too rustic: chili, wings, nachos, though for the last one the blogger liked "that it’s cheese sauce rather than real cheese." [Clinton Hill Blog]
Dumbo: Food writers including Kara Zuaro (I Like Food, Food Tastes Good), Phoebe Damrosch (Service Included) and David Wondrich (Imbibe) and Edible Brooklyn’s Gabrielle Langholtz will talk about — what else? — eating, at Powerhouse Arena next Tuesday. [A Brooklyn Life]
East Village: Belgian Room has been closed for letting minors booze on Lambic. [Down by the Hipster]
Soho: Vosges bacon chocolate now comes in the shape of flying pigs. But they can’t escape. [Snack]
Upper East Side: Park Avenue Winter will turn into spring on March 26, just in time for Easter. [Zagat]
We’re told that Fiamma has sprung into action, using all the powers of the B.R. Guest machine, to try to ferret out what went so catastrophically wrong with Nick Paumgarten’s meal. “We are all disappointed in the service. We take this very seriously and have everyone looking into the problems,” B.R. Guest chieftain Steve Hanson tells us. But all the negative attention Fiamma has gotten over the last day or so obscures a larger, thornier question about the restaurant: What has happened to the sprawling, lavish, ambitious menu that Fabio Trabocchi launched his administration with?
Bushwick: This Shwick blogger thinks the "Bushwick Initiative is just the City putting a sad little band-aid on the giant ax wound it created in New York’s housing situation." But these rehabbed buildings do look nicer [BushwickBK]
Hoboken: Duders, the St. Patrick's Day parade is this Saturday! That's early, even for Hoboken! [East Village Idiot]
New Springville: Staten Island cops are searching for a man who snatched a woman from a bus stop here and sexually assaulted her last night. He was 18–20 years old and 5'5", so keep your eyes peeled. [NY1]
The New Yorker’s “Tables for Two” reviews have generally been mordant little affairs, short on criticism and long on wry descriptions of restaurant culture. Not this week. Nick Paumgarten comes down hard on Fiamma, describing “FEMA-like” service, cold food, a martini made without vermouth, and, in general, the very picture of a major ripoff operation, subsisting on “a strong euro and the proximity of the Soho Grand hotel.” It’s a wild departure from the usual “Tables for Two” mold, and though it may or may not be reflective of Fiamma (practically all of the reviews have been very positive, including Adam Platt’s two-star job), it’s certainly a lot more fun to read. Something tells us Paumgarten had a lot of fun writing it.
Tables for Two: Fiamma [NYer]
Supima Cotton is opening up a pop-up store in Soho on March 14, featuring pieces by fifteen contemporary designers like AG Adriano Goldschmied, Three Dots, Gilded Age, and Zooey. And what's a store opening, really, without a crazy promotional campaign? Before the store flings open its doors they plan to promote it with — we shit you not — a cotton field on the corner of Broadway and Houston.
The ever-expanding BLT empire is going to have a new addition and one that is a departure from previous generations. The Trump Soho, on which construction has recently resumed, is to have a big, new BLT restaurant, but chef-owner Laurent Tourondel says it won’t be a BLT Steak, Burger, Prime, Fish, or Market. “It’s going to be a new concept, something I’ve never done before,” he says. Tourondel also shot down a rumor we’d heard that a hot, young downtown chef was being recruited to do another big restaurant in the building. “I’m in charge of all the food and beverage there, so I would know,” he asserts. Unless he just isn’t telling.
Bay Ridge: Richard Martin, the "crazy super" who posts homicidally threatening signs about trash disposal, says of his tenants "They're Arab; they don't give a f*ck"; has a cute Pekinese named Pretty Girl; and worships Jeanine Pirro. Feast on his cranky, strangely lovable weirdness. [NYP]
Chelsea: Facing lawsuits from folks who say it's too loud and polluting to be there, the 30th St. pier heliport floats a plan to move itself onto two barges offshore. And Curbed is right... this homespun sketch of the plan indeed features the quaintest, gentlest West Side Highway we've ever seen. [Villager via Curbed]
Ditmas Park: Folks in these gentrifying, pretty parts know that the hatred currently directed at Park Slope will soon be visited upon them. And they're probably right. [Ditmas Park Blog]
Construction workers have returned to Trump Soho, a little over a month after DiFama Concrete worker Yurly Vanschytskyy fell 40 stories to his death off the building, after a wooden mold in which he was tamping down concrete collapsed. According to Newsday, the Department of Buildings is allowing Bovis, the contractor overseeing the project, to work on the first 23 floors, provided Bovis employ a full-time safety manager, train their workers better, and swaddle the upper floors of the building in scaffolding and netting. Donald Trump has never made a statement regarding the accident.
Work resumes on lower floors of Trump SoHo condo after fatal fall [Newsday]
Related: Intel's coverage of the accident at Trump SoHo
Bay Ridge: Gotta love this "crazy super," whose psychotic signs routinely threaten to kill tenants who don't take out their trash properly. [Right in Bay Ridge]
Bedford-Stuyvesant: Elation erupts upon news of an imminent Duane Reade: "No longer will we have to drink Tropical Fantasy ginger ale. We'll be able to step it up a notch with the effervescence of Schweppes." [Bed-Stuy Blog]
Greenpoint: A colony of feral cats will have to be displaced as part of plans for a concrete waterfront park here, which will include a twelve-foot view-blocking fence. [Newyorkshitty]
Cobble Hill: Whether that house on Kane Street where the old lady lives is infested with rats or squirrels is now a moot point — the city's ordered her to vacate, and trusty NY1 is on the story! [Lost NYC]
Greenwich Village: The Department of Buildings is bitter because the developer of the units that went up over landmark Circle in the Square theater lied and said they'd be used for dorms. They're not, meaning no zoning breaks. Meaning pare down those hideous balconies! [Villager]
Lower Manhattan: Also bitter are Seaport locals, who laughed in the face of moguls last night who offered them community use of the Fulton Market floor where the "Bodies" exhibit is in exchange for development. Looks like they want waaaay more public space than that. [Downtown Express]
Ah, the humanity! Zeppelin may have exploded at its West 9th Street moorings, but the spinoff bar and restaurant from the Employees Only guys has been patched up and is floating west and south, down to an area below Houston Street on the West Side. Owner Jason Kosmas wouldn't give the exact location for fear of jinxing the lease. “The Zeppelin project has lots of new life and new enthusiasm,” he says. “We gave back the keys on 9th Street, and the feeling was somewhat bad at the end, but now we’re looking at two spaces in that Village-border area, and we feel really good about them.” Any speculation about the possible new home of Zeppelin can and should be filed in the comments department. Broad hints are especially welcome.
Related: Employees Only Team Looks for a New Place to Park Zeppelin
We've got some tasty new details on the new Soho Topshop, where we've confirmed construction is well under way (they finally signed the lease on Friday). The gargantuan store will be as similar to the London flagship as possible and will include the "sweet shop" candy section (beware, Dylan Lauren). Merch will include designer collections, the new Unique line, and, ahem, more from the Kate Moss collection.
Lipstick Jungle actress Lindsay Price met LSV Advisors' David Tisch at the Cynthia Rowley show last week, and they've been dating since. Scarlett Johansson refused to talk to an Us Weekly reporter because of the plastic-surgery cover they did of her. Bruce Willis hung out with Victoria's Secret model Emma Heming at Marquee for Lauren Kucerak's birthday party, where he tipped $100 a drink. Justin Timberlake was spotted shopping at Tiffany & Co. Natalie Portman showed up 45 minutes late to a vegan-shoe launch she was doing in Soho and only answered questions for five minutes.
Coney Island: "Imagine getting on a ferry at Hunt's Point for a day trip" here! That's what Christine Quinn floated yesterday in her big speech. Could it really happen? [Kinetic Carnival]
East Village: McMansion mogul Robert Toll's 27-year-old NYU social-work-student son Jacob lives with two of his buds in a $2.2 million condo in his dad's glossy new One Ten 3rd building. How will he pay that mortgage on a social worker's salary? (Cue cynical chortles.) [NYO]
Midtown: Wouldn't it be cool if the retired math professor who nearly died of a bondage incident in a sex club here could get his wife in on his S&M thing instead of having to shamefully confess it to her in the Post? Now he's vowing to break his addiction. Why not just go safe, sane, and consensual? [Gothamist]
Chelsea: The former Daniele’s Piadina space on 22nd Street east of Sixth Avenue sat empty for two years, but it will reopen as a sandwich shop called Ashby’s on Monday. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Clinton Hill: Gnarly Vines is hosting a rosé-sparkler tasting tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday evening from 6 to 9 p.m., and bottles of those sample selections are 10 percent off. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Dumbo: The ‘D’ Space Restaurant at Jay and Front streets serves Indian buffet, but will it raise the bar on local delivery options? [Dumbo NYC]
Flatiron: Shaffer City Oyster Bar & Grill will close February 23 and reopen in March as Flatiron Joe’s with cheaper American fare and a jukebox. [Zagat]
Fort Greene: In her list of last-minute Valentine’s Day options, Danyelle Freeman recommends Cake Man Raven if you want to "just forget dinner and grab a few whopping slices of the decadent red velvet cake that made this bakery famous." [Restaurant Girl]
Soho: In honor of this romantic week, it’s only right that bananas (and resulting desserts around town) are celebrated for being "not only insanely phallic but also brimming with potassium and B vitamins, which are necessary for keeping your sex drive going." But you don’t have to tell your date that after deciding to share Blue Ribbon Brasserie’s top-rated banana split. [Gridskipper]
West Village: Pig's-feet and collagen temple Hakata TonTon has been closed by the Department of Health. [Eater]
Bedford-Stuyvesant: Some folks are skeptical that anything will change here, no matter who's elected in November. And they're employing their mailboxes to say so. [Newyorkshitty]
Greenwich Village: After renovations of Washington Square Park found human remains there, folks will protest there tonight, saying the city should merely "repair" the park and not upset buried bones with a full-scale redo. [Metro]
Jackson Heights: This is the home of the largest of 47 rent-stabilized apartment buildings throughout Queens just purchased for $300 million by Vantage Properties. Housing advocates fear the new owner will systematically push out low-rent-paying tenants in the nearly 2,000 units. [The Real Deal]
The writers' strike may end soon, and the SNL gang may have their day jobs back, but in the meantime, Amy Poehler's getting her groove back. "I went to a hip-hop class at Crunch today," she told us Friday night at actor Justin Theroux's week-long public installation in Soho with a baseball-capped Will Arnett, her actor hubby. "Let me tell you something, those natural endorphins I've heard about — they really work." Didn't she ever do aerobic activity? "No," she said. "Unless crying is considered an aerobic activity. I gotta get back to work." So what else was she doing with her spare time? "I've doubled my therapy," she said. But didn't less work stress require less therapy? "No," she replied. "I'm a thousand times more stressed when I'm not working. When you can't blame everything on being too busy, a lot of shit comes up." Totally. Last time our computers crapped out on us, we had to face that we had grown up to become bloggers whose high point of the week was Gossip Girl, and, well, it wasn't pretty. Well, we told Poehler, at least you're out doing new things, right? "Yeah," she agreed. "And I'm learning how to become a midwife!" Wow! Really? "No." —Tim MurphyClick here to read all our writers strike coverage from New York's Vulture blog.