Restaurant Preview


Fred McKibbin and Cory Hill met while they were working at Nosmo King, and that restaurant’s untimely demise doesn’t seem to have diminished their mutual faith in the future of TriBeCa restaurants. Their consulting chef, Mary Schoenlein, has winnowed down her sundry experiences working for Jerry Della Femina and Alfred Portale into a menu of multiculti appetizers like potato-and-chorizo tacos with green-tomato salsa, Belgian-ale-steamed moules frites, and goat-cheese polenta cakes. (114 Franklin Street; 212-343-4200; early November.)

Chef Stephen Lyle has gone his own way yet again, trading his familiar TriBeCa turf for the tree-lined streets of the central Village. But he hasn’t forsaken his fluency in the bistro idiom, reflected in both the design (banquettes, mirrors, hardwood trim) and the French-and-Mediterranean-inspired American menu. (62 West 9th Street; no phone yet; early November.)

Do Hwa
The mother-and-daughter team, Myung Ja and Jenny Kwak, who preside over the East Village’s popular Dok Suni’s, have acquired a space large enough to let them expand on their home-style Korean menu with do-it-yourself grill tables, dumplings, specialty cocktails, and an uncommon assortment of spicy, salty Korean bar snacks. (55 Carmine Street; 212-414-2815; November.)

Before opening Bedford Street’s cozy ‘ino panini bar, Jason Denton was a manager at Pó, where Mario Batali made his Molto Mario name before ascending to chef-superstardom at Babbo. The Pó boys reunite at this Roman-style trattoria, where the moderately priced menu is pure Batali: antipasto like testa di pulpo, pasta like Nero’s tagliarini with spicy one-hour calamari, and main courses like oxtail “alla Vaccinara.” (170 Thompson Street; no phone yet; late September.)

Just when Buena Vista Social Club’s lush images and powerful melodies have sparked a craving for all things Cuban, owner Diane Ghioto has enlisted chef Aarón Sanchez (L-Ray, Patria) to reinterpret classic Latin dishes like tostones rellenos, mixed seviches, “drunken” chicken, and plantain-crusted shrimp with spicy garbanzo rice. The intended ambience is “fifties Havana,” the mood romantic. (39 Downing Street; 212-352-cuba; October 4.)

Keith McNally’s newest (and, he swears, final) restaurant will differ from Balthazar in two major ways: a bigger, more comfortable bar area and a no-reservations policy. The besieged Balthazar chefs will oversee the home-style, hearty French menu, and by next year’s inevitable heat wave, McNally hopes to have rigged up a European-style sidewalk café. (9 Ninth Avenue; no phone yet; late November.)

Mark Strausman trained in Europe, which is why he’s apt to compare his newest location, across the cobblestoned street from Florent, to Paris’s Les Halles 30 years ago or market restaurants in Brussels 50 years ago. For his new New York brasserie, he’s focusing on seasonal, simple food, a classic-cocktail-fueled late-night bar scene, Spanish wines by the glass, and a quasi-industrial look warmed up by his vintage-pottery collection and Deco light fixtures. Expect hearty meat and potatoes (including Strausman’s inimitable latkes and pommes frites) in he-man portions: pit-grilled Angus porterhouse (for up to four people); grilled homemade sausages; roasted pork, hens, and quail. (50 Gansevoort Street; no phone yet; late November.)

Tuscan chef Cesare Casella promises a Manhattan evocation of a Tuscan farmhouse, outfitted with iron chandeliers, imported terra-cotta and tile, and an antique hickory floor. He plans to intersperse some historic Etruscan dishes among the more familiar contemporary renditions of the grandmotherly food he grew up with – la cucina casalinga – and his resolutely seasonal approach ensures that his winter menu will be brimming with cabbage, pumpkin, potatoes, and beans. Plus Italian-style continental breakfast and light Italian sandwiches served all day. (45 East 22nd Street; no phone yet; early November.)


The Brasserie
It’s been five years since a fire shut down this nocturnal New York landmark, and it’s doubtful that any old-timers will recognize the late-night haunt after a “cutting-edge, ultra-modern” face-lift by the MacArthur Award-winning architecture firm Diller+Scofidio. The old counter is gone, replaced by a brand-new bar. And the Alsatian-inspired menu that the late Joe Baum conceived 40 years ago has evolved into more marketable contemporary French. The biggest change? Curtailed hours of operation, from 24 to 18. (100 East 53rd Street; no phone yet; November.)

Douglas Rodriguez spearheaded Nuevo Latino cooking, but now, with partner Michael Ginor (owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras), he’s plumbing the past. His new digs didn’t leave him much choice: The 1890s Romanesque townhouse that housed the Grolier Club is full of ghosts, all clamoring for a fine cigar and the sort of classic cocktail or snifter of rum Rodriguez will be serving in the smoking parlor. Big-band and Latin music will set the retro mood, but Rodriguez’s food – calamari stuffed with oxtail, bone-marrow gratiné, rack of lamb with tamarind-chili paste, and sweet-plantain-banana crumble – is hardly old-fashioned. (29 East 32nd Street; 212-725-4900; October.)

No one who visited this East Side restaurant during its incarnations as Le Chantilly and David Ruggerio will recognize it after its subtle makeover by Larry Bogdanow, who’s used natural materials like straw, cane, and stone to evoke a sense of nature in the midst of the Manhattan wilderness. Chef Tadashi Ono and his former employers, La Caravelle owners Rita and André Jammet, join forces with Larry Goldenberg (a onetime managing partner at Gramercy Tavern) on this Asian-French restaurant, where Tadashi’s deceptively simple concoctions are served on hand-thrown pottery he designed himself. Dinner, which is available only in a three-course prix fixe or a seven-course tasting menu, consists of fusion fare like escargot fricassee, poached lobster in saffron bouillon, and caramelized sweetbreads with honey and sesame seeds. (106 East 57th Street; 212-752-4411; late September.)


Rainbow Grill
Those soigné Ciprianis, unruffled even in the midst of their tussle with organized labor, are poised to reveal their long-awaited transformation of the Rainbow Room’s Promenade Bar into the Rainbow Grill, open to the public for lunch and dinner daily. Expect fresh pastas, risotto, carpaccio, and the rest of their overpriced Italian oeuvre, supervised by chefs imported from Harry Cipriani and Harry’s Bar. (30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th floor; 212-632-5000; late September.)

Andrew Silverman’s 175-seat American seafood house in the Exxon Building will be his upper-middlebrow answer to midtown’s prohibitively expensive Le Bernardin, Oceana, and Manhattan Ocean Club. Alison Barshak, who dazzled Philadelphia at the seafood-centric Striped Bass, will preside. (1251 Sixth Avenue, at 49th Street; 212-354-1717; mid-September.)

California’s loss is our culinary gain. Chef Michael Otsuka (formerly of L.A.’s Patina and San Francisco’s Pan Pacific Hotel) is strategically putting down roots on a Hell’s Kitchen corner that recently sprouted two new luxury high-rises. Otsuka’s menu reflects his French training and devotion to seasonal American ingredients in dishes like Yukon-gold potato salad with smoked sturgeon and Osetra caviar, and brown-sugar-cured double pork-loin chop with smoked jasmine rice, braised greens, and grain-mustard gastrique. (828 Eighth Avenue, at 50th Street; 212-399-4444; late September.)

Morrell Wine Bar & Café
Rather than just relocate their wine store to Rockefeller Center, the Morrells decided to open an adjacent wine bar, where almost 2,000 assorted bottles will be available to accompany the food that best matches it – or food garnished with it. Thus the foie gras club with port-wine jam, the smoked duck breast with Petite Sirah glaze … the oenophilic possibilities are endless. (1 Rockefeller Plaza; 212-262-7700; mid-October.)

Ruby Foo’s Times Square
And why not? Steve Hanson hit a home run on the Upper West Side and plans to make very few changes when he brings the pan-Asian concept to a neighborhood in even more dire need of dependably good, fun restaurants. Don’t skip dessert. (1626 Broadway, at 49th Street; no phone yet; November 7.)

Russian Tea Room
Warner LeRoy’s $20 million overhaul of 57th Street’s oldest theme restaurant is part Sevruga, part spectacle. As at his Tavern on the Green and late, lamented Maxwell’s Plum, the kitsch factor is high. The unifying theme throughout four lavishly decorated floors is bears: dancing bears, bronze bear candelabras, even an acrylic bear filled with live baby sturgeon. But certain historical details remain, like intimate red banquettes, year-round Christmas ornaments, hot tea poured dramatically from gold samovars, and Russian-inspired food, lightened considerably by French chef Fabrice Canelle. (150 West 57th Street; 212-974-2111; October 11.)

The Torre di Pisa family branches out with a two-story Italian steakhouse built to evoke the Italian countryside down to the cammino fiorentino, a massive fireplace inside which a table and chairs have been arranged. (Hansel and Gretel come to mind.) Beef, including the house specialty, a Florentine T-bone served with cannelini beans, ranges from $14 to $34, but meatless options (lobster cocktail, spaghetti puttanesca) abound. (44 West 56th Street; no phone yet; November 5.)


Eli’s Restaurant
The sunny café at the entrance to Eli Zabar’s newest gourmet superstore, Eli’s Manhattan, morphs into a candlelit white-tablecloth restaurant at night, showcasing the market-driven talents of chef Scott Bieber, who cooked at Across the Street until Eli closed it in July. (1411 Third Avenue, at 80th Street; 212-717-8100; late October.)

Little Dove
Now that Arizona 206 and Yellowfingers have evolved into Bolivar and Cibi-Cibi, the Santo family turns its attention to Contrapunto, which will inherit china and other artifacts from the old Sign of the Dove – even the pair of bronze weimaraners that once guarded its doors. Group chef Andrew D’Amico has drafted a luxe menu (oysters in champagne vinaigrette, beef Wellington with black-truffle sauce, caviar and blinis) to accompany bottles of wine from the Dove’s cellar, including some bought at auction from JFK’s own personal stash. (200 East 60th Street; 212-861-8080; October.)


The newest spot to fuel up for an intense evening at the opera is just off Central Park West and features a wine bar, a skylight, and a menu that ranges from the familiar (sharable mini pizzas with gorgonzola or mozzarella cheese, mushroom risotto) to the less so (braided thin-sliced salmon and swordfish; calf’s liver with shallots, pistachios, grapes, and dessert wine). (22 West 66th Street; no phone yet; late October.)

Artie’s Delicatessen
Arthur Cutler, the mass-market genius behind the triumvirate of pretheater mess halls (Carmine’s, Ollie’s, and Virgil’s), didn’t live long enough to fulfill his dream of owning a New York Jewish deli. So in his honor, former associate Jeffrey Bank and his partner Chris Metz, who’ve run kosher operations in Manhattan and Cedarhurst, Long Island, team up with Cutler’s widow, Alice, to open a newfangled old-style delicatessen. What this means, precisely, is a candlelit, Formica-clad place where you can nosh on salami, knishes, corned beef, and pastrami (based on a recipe purchased at auction from the old Schmulke Bernstein deli) and wash it all down with a nice French Chardonnay. (2290 Broadway, near 83rd Street; 212-579-5959; early October.)


Miss Williamsburg Diner
Pilar Rigon, one of the original partners at Il Bagatto, the thriving Alphabet City Italian restaurant, resurfaces across the East River in another hotbed of hip, cheap restaurants filled with hip, artsy customers. She hired Italian architect Daniel O’Connor to rehab an original thirties dining car, where she and chef Massimiliano Bartoli will man the remodeled range and a D.J. will spin appropriately funky platters. (206 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg; 718-963-0802; mid-September.)

The Grocery
Some people love University Place’s Knickerbocker Bar & Grill for its live music, some for its friendly neighborhood vibe. But just as many locals depend upon Charles Kiely’s hearty American cooking, with daily specials that make creative use of seasonal produce from the Union Square Greenmarket. Kiely’s transporting his market-driven, fresh-from-the-farm philosophy to Carroll Gardens, where he and his partner Sharon Pachter (former pastry chef at Savoy) are keeping things small: 25 seats, to be exact, plus an additional 20 in the outdoor café. (288 Smith Street, near Union Street; 718-596-3335; early October.)

Restaurant Preview