Francesco at Mix
Mix in New York first opened nineteen months ago with a quasi-inscrutable concept and a hyper-refined take on peanut butter and jelly, both of which have since fallen by the wayside. A couple French-American menus (and chefs) later, partners Alain Ducasse and Jeffrey Chodorow have taken another culinary direction: They’ve lured Italian chef Francesco Berardinelli away from his two Tuscan restaurants to breathe new life into the pink-hued premises. Here, as in Italy, Berardinelli takes a modern approach to traditional ingredients in dishes like ricotta soup with herb-crusted snapper and citrus oil, Parmesan gelato with asparagus and crushed black pepper, and polenta-stuffed tortelli with spicy seafood soup.
68 W. 58th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-583-0300
When New Yorkers think about where to go for good, authentic Chinese food, they do not factor in water views, birds twittering in treetops, and breeze-swept outdoor-terrace dining—none of which is readily available in any of the city’s frenetic Chinatowns. Liberty View, a relatively posh new place situated along the Hudson River Park’s south cove in Battery Park City, could change all that. A boon for the insular, underserviced neighborhood, not to mention the desk-bound workers at World Financial Center, the restaurant specializes in the cuisines of Shanghai, Sichuan, and Canton, but the Chinatown-worthy specials menu, covering everything from jellyfish to the ever-popular braised lion’s head, is where it’s at. The chef comes from Shanghai and is justifiably proud of his juicy buns. But don’t let the well-intentioned server steer you away from pork dishes that are ostensibly “too fat” for non-Chinese. No such thing.
21 South End Ave., nr. W. Thames St.; 212-786-1888
When Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened 66, he blazed a trail for French-trained chefs cooking haute Chinese in slickly designed settings. First came Xing, a sexy new Hell’s Kitchen spot where 66 veteran Josh Eden consulted on the menu. And now Angelo Sosa, late of Spice Market and Jean Georges, opens Yumcha on April 7. The name means “drink tea,” and a list of lyrical-sounding exotic-leaf blends is meant to ensure that you do. Sosa’s menu is just as evocative, full of French-Chinese hybrids like “drunken” peekytoe crab salad with cardamom custard, ginger-lacquered veal cheeks with sour-apple salad, and Chinese-cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted beignets served with warm condensed milk.
29 Bedford St., at Downing St.; 212-524-6800
With rustic little wine bars continuing to open on a seemingly weekly basis, it’s fair to say the phenomenon has legs. Its latest manifestation, Uva, is a cozy little collaboration from the owners of neighboring Lusardi’s, Due, and Luke’s. Here, the wine list is international (give the earthy Lusardi Sangiovese a shot), but the menu is distinctly Italian and casually snacky. Chisolini are Emilian-style focaccia, stuffed with robiola and black truffles or whipped tuna with capers and chives. Cured meats and cheeses come on cutting boards. Best of all, in a neighborhood that needs it, nothing exceeds $19.
1486 Second Ave., nr. 77th St.; 212-472-4552
First there was Chinoiserie, then came Sciuscia. Now Barna has moved into Hotel Giraffe’s subterranean space, with Spanish-inspired fare like shellfish paella and tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, and sonhos, or Portuguese-style doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, for dessert
365 Park Ave. S., at 26th St.; 212-532-8300
CIA grad David Gadlin named his tiny takeout shop TAOS, an acronym of his own invention—The Art of Sandwiches, Salads, Sweets & Stuff. Decked out in a chef-regulation smock, Gadlin scurries about his kitchen crafting Cubans, Reubens, Monte Cristos, even a PB&J with bananas and marshmallow Fluff as artfully as one can do in a space the size of a bread box
151 E. 43rd St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-880-8267
Once Upon a Time in the West Village Cesare Casella, Tuscany’s foremost culinary ambassador and chef-owner of Beppe, might not wear his heart on his sleeve, but he does tuck herbs into his pocket like a boutonniere. That signature zaniness is sure to animate his second restaurant, Maremma, which Casella plans to open this summer at 228 West 10th Street. Maremma—Tuscany’s Wild West, according to Casella—is the viticultural birthplace of super-Tuscans, not to mention the home of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s new vineyard and an Alain Ducasse restaurant and hotel. As ritzy as that sounds, Casella prefers to translate the area’s frontier quality into what he calls cowboy cuisine—“a fusion between Tuscan and spaghetti westerns.”
August and Everything After Filmmaker-cum-restaurateur and chef talent scout Bob Giraldi has teamed up with former August co-owner Jason Hennings in two new downtown ventures. Diablo Royale, slated to open in June at 189 West 10th Street, is a Mexican-themed tacqueria with sidewalk seating, heavy-duty margaritas, and a chef who’s cooked at Butter and Chanterelle. And at 235 East 4th Street, a space Giraldi originally intended to be a branch of Bread, he, Hennings, and chef Anne Burrell (late of the Italian Wine Merchant’s Studio del Gusto) plan to open European Union sometime this summer. Like August, European Union—part pub, part trattoria, part café—will fuse regional European flavors and cuisines, with an emphasis on cured meats, shellfish, and artisanal cheeses.
The Life of Brian Brian Young worked at the fabled Quilted Giraffe and Le Bernardin before opening Citarella the Restaurant, and then bolting for greener Westchester pastures. Next month, he makes his Manhattan return as chef-partner of Mainland, a modern Chinese restaurant at 1081 Third Avenue. Young traveled to Beijing to study the intricate art of Peking duck and plans to cook his in a custom-built gas-fired, wood-burning oven that takes center stage in Mainland’s lounge. Young’s menu, a function of his French training and Chinese heritage, features soft-shell-crab salad with spicy green oil, steamed black chicken soup with ginseng, and charred, sliced dry-rubbed porterhouse with black-vinegar vinaigrette.