June 28, 2004
To paraphrase the late Warren Zevon—not to mention the late John Gotti—sometimes all you need in life is a good sandwich. Eban Ross, a French Culinary Institute grad who’s cooked at L.A.’s Citrus and East Hampton’s Nick & Toni’s, must have embraced this philosophy and adapted it to Carve Unique Sandwiches, a new theater-district takeout shop with a drive-thru window. What distinguishes Carve from your typical Boar’s Head deli is its menu of carved-to-order rotisserie meats like pork loin and turkey, and quirky combinations like the “steak house”: herb-roasted beef with iceberg lettuce, tomato, crisp onions, potatoes, and blue-cheese dressing on ciabatta. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner come on a bun, but a good portion of the menu (including soups, salads, and sandwich fillings wrapped in lettuce) bows down to the cult of the low-carb.
760-8 Eighth Avenue, at 47th Street
The Bar, The Bard
The AvroKO design firm won a James Beard Award for making card catalogues and brass mailboxes sexy at Public. Next up: a visceral homage to The Tempest by way of Little Italy, which is where Odea Bar & Lounge opens this week. As consultants, AvroKO came up with the name (a reference to Shakespeare’s enchanted island of Oda) and the décor (a moody exiled-royalty juxtaposition of rough-hewn wood beams and raw brick with gilded mirrors and satin pillows). Chef Einat Admony’s global-tapas menu features sharable dishes like foie gras kebabs with tahini and dates (pictured); other attractions include a champagne menu, blackberry martinis, and rentable bottle lockers—roomy enough, one hopes, to store the Complete Works.
389 Broome Street
It’s one thing for a restaurant to court artists and celebrities—but it’s another to get one to renovate the space. That’s what Petrosino co-owner Antonio Bellomo has pulled off at his more casual sister restaurant, Canapa—by enlisting sculptor and actor Vincenzo Amato, who starred in the Italian film Respiro, to fix up the place. The name of the restaurant means “hemp” in Italian (hello, Woody Harrelson!), which accounts for the raw, natural look, softened with hemplike curtains and linen-upholstered banquettes. Chef-partner Patrick Nuti’s back-to-basics menu offers a small selection of antipasti, pizza, and pasta, plus rustic entrées like cacciucco and pork ribs, with nothing over $12. Even so, Amato should get to eat on the house.
245 East Houston Street
Chelsea’s F&B, which New York’s Gael Greene has called the Tiffany of fast food, has expanded uptown, and if you’re the type who likes fancy franks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is your place. The namesake frites and beignets, and the signature haute dogs in all their frippery and finery, have made the trip to midtown, where the menu now includes open-faced Danish sandwiches and caramel tirami su, joined by rise-and-shine creations like smoked tofu dogs with scrambled eggs on a bun. An umbrella’d courtyard should make a fine place for the targeted after-work audience to while away happy hour with a plate of “pups in a blanket” and, depending on what kind of day it’s been, a $10 pitcher of Stella Artois or a $150 bottle of Dom Pérignon.
150 East 52nd Street
It’s A Thai
With their built-in tourist clientele and often bland corporate feel, hotel restaurants seldom get taken seriously. Kittichai, opening next week in the space formerly known as Thom in the 60 Thompson hotel, might be the rare exception. Chef Ian Chalermkittichai was recruited from the Four Seasons Bangkok to introduce New Yorkers to authentic, refined Thai cooking—a combination, he brashly asserts, that doesn’t exist here. Among the menu items he’ll use to prove his point: pomelo salad with grilled prawns and coconut, penang curry with braised short ribs and kaffir lime leaves, and crispy catfish salad with scallops. Vying with the kitchen for the diner’s attention will be David Rockwell’s exotic design, which manages to incorporate candlelit bamboo cabanas and a lotus-flower-filled reflecting pool.
60 Thompson Street
the underground gourmet
In Williamsburg’s new japanese tapas bar, it’s hip to be round.
Before Makoto Suzuki opened Bozu (pronounced bose, like the speaker), he spent ten years as a waiter, chef, and general manager at a theater-district sushi bar. But like so much of New York’s young, creative community, he couldn’t resist the lure of Williamsburg. “I love artists,” he says. “The people here are very nice, very bohemian.” Not to mention patient: Suzuki calls Bozu a Japanese tapas bar, but until his much-anticipated liquor license arrives, bar is something of a misnomer. In the meantime, he’s been infusing shochu, the vodkalike Japanese spirit, with twenty kinds of fruit, and dreaming up cocktails like a Bloody Mary made from infusions of tomato, lemon, and hot red pepper. For now, customers are encouraged to bring their own beer to accompany snack-size portions of soba salad, summer rolls, and the mozzarella-stuffed risotto croquettes Suzuki learned to make from a Japanese wine distributor who used to live in Italy. But Bozu’s signature dish is its bomb sushi, so named for its spherical form and small size—a one-bite challenge to American behemoths. “You shoot them in your mouth like a bomb,” says Suzuki, who tints his sushi rice pink with codfish roe and red with cabbage. Designer Shinji Mizutani’s striking black-and-red room is just as distinctive: Japanese lacquered wood and Chinese bamboo charcoal meet Eames chairs and rebar. A recurring motif is the daruma, a traditional doll with blank spaces for eyes. You paint one eyeball when you make a wish, the other when it comes true. So far, all the eyes are hollow except one. What was it Suzuki wished for? “A liquor license.” —Robin Raisfeld
296 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Is it true Mix has been demixtified?
It was arch and annoying, and it’s not anymore. For a minute I wonder if we’ve tripped into Pleasantville, the welcome at Mix in New York is so sugary. The petri dishes have gone back to the fertility lab. The confusing prix fixe menu with its mixes of mix is no more. Chef Damon Gordon, a veteran of Alain Ducasse and Jeffrey Chodorow, is sending out fine New England clam chowder with snooty little herb-butter crackers, a pleasant-enough lobster Caesar, and splendid dry-aged steak with first-rate fries (though he’s yet to master soft-shell crab). I’d be content to make dinner of just his macaroni with ham, butter, and truffle jus. And I love the rack of lamb with its muesli crust and buttery green peas à la française set on the table in a wrought-iron pan, But please … $42 for three little chops? Entrées from $25 to $42 seem blindly ambitious for such a casual spot—handsome, yes, with mostly pleasant food and service verging on rude from our impatient waiter.
68 West 58th Street