There’s Chinese food, and then there’s New York Chinese food. The latter has historically come high in sodium, smothered in sauce, and delivered on a careering bicycle. Ginger, opening this weekend in Harlem’s first “green” building and subsidized in part by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, offers a heart-healthier alternative. The menu—devised by consultant Rosa Lo San Ross, scrutinized by Columbia nutritionists, and executed by chef James Marshall—is light on the frying and heavy on the baking, steaming, and grilling. Ginger is the first Harlem foray by restaurateur Michelle Jean, previously known for stylish downtown boîtes like Circa and Butter, and will eventually offer three meals a day plus takeout—good to know when the craving strikes for mu-shu tofu and baked egg rolls.
1400 Fifth Ave., at 116th St.; 212-423-1111
Zoë owners Stephen and Thalia Loffredo have never been content to rest on their restaurateur laurels. Back in 1998, they lured Montreal’s Normand Laprise to New York to open the critically acclaimed but criminally underappreciated Cena. And this week, they plan to unveil Jovia, an equally ambitious New American restaurant with an Italian and American wine list, Italian-inspired cocktails by Dale DeGroff, and freshly baked garlic knots in the bread basket. Chef Josh DeChellis made his name fusing Japanese ingredients and French technique at Sumile, but at Jovia, he expands his considerable range to include dishes like potted suckling pig and duck with caramelized endive–porcini marmalade, and bluefin-tuna cheeks with glazed eggplant, brined onions, and mustard greens.
135 E. 62nd St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-752-6000
Stephen Hanson and Eric Ripert: a match made in restaurant heaven, or one of those hellish, oddball pairings destined to become the mother of all ego clashes? The world will find out this week when the mega-restaurateur (Ruby Foo’s, Blue Fin, Fiamma, Vento, etc.) and Le Bernardin’s meticulous seafood savant unleash Barça 18, a 220-seat tapas palace in Hanson’s former Park Avalon space. What does either know about Catalan cookery? It turns out that Ripert was raised in Andorra and even speaks the official language like a Catalonian carnival barker. Longtime Le Bernardin sous-chef Brian O’Donohoe will channel his boss’s taste memories with dishes like squid-ink paella and braised octopus with jamón and sweet-pepper confit. And in the further spirit of collaboration, pastry chefs Elizabeth Katz (Fiamma) and Michael Laiskonis (Le Bernardin) are concocting clever confectionery riffs like pan con chocolate—toasted bread, chocolate ganache, olive oil, and Maldon sea salt.
225 Park Ave. S., at 18th St.; 212-533-2500