With the opening of Hearth, Marco Canora, who cooked for years at Gramercy Tavern and Craft, has bid adieu to Colicchio and company. Well, almost: He’s brought fellow Gramercy Tavern alumnus Paul Grieco (pictured, left, with Canora) along as his partner as well as Craft’s pastry sous-chef, Lauren Dawson. Aside from the fact that main dishes come fully equipped with sides like the escarole and cranberry beans that accompany the braised lamb shoulder, Canora’s Italian-accented menu reads very Crafty, from Nantucket Bay scallops to hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. “It’s the same philosophy of clean, simple, uncluttered food,” says Canora. “And a lot of light preparations—you’re not going to leave the table holding your gut, saying ‘Oh, my God.’ ”
403 East 12th Street
Roe Is Me
Pollution and poaching continue to threaten the Caspian Sea sturgeon and its legendary eggs. Hence the appeal of paddlefish caviar, whose small, firm, gray-black eggs taste very similar to Sevruga. Chefs are embracing this all-American alternative, and Swifty’s private-label paddlefish roe carries a quite modest price tag (relatively speaking, anyway). We like it with the East Side restaurant’s corn fritters, available to go, as a fancy party accoutrement. Available at Lexington R.S.V.P., Swifty’s retail location, 1012 Lexington Avenue, near 72nd Street (212-861-5350), or from rsvp-ny.com. Four ounces is $49, seven ounces is $79, and fourteen ounces is $149; an order of six corn fritters is $6.
Pucker up: The clever cocktailists at Beacon have winterized the mojito. Muddled with roasted cranberries as well as fresh mint and lime, the Cubano classic takes on a pleasingly extra-tart flavor. Order a pair (or any two drinks from the fall cocktail menu) from 5 to 6:30 p.m., and the kitchen will throw in one of Waldy Malouf’s terrific rustic wild-mushroom and onion pizzas—all for $19.95.
25 West 56th Street
object of desire
We wouldn’t mind if that crudely re-gifted five-gallon drum of flavored popcorn—the one that arrives at our office every holiday season as reliably as fruitcake—came filled with Jacques Torres’s chocolate-covered caramelized popcorn instead. A one-pound bag of the amazingly rich, buttery, crunchy, sweet-and-salty stuff goes for $10 and should last approximately ten seconds at your office’s snack depot.
66 Water Street, Brooklyn
Two hefty volumes guaranteed to pack on winter weight.
Short days, long nights, and a chill in the air mean one thing to the in-trepid home baker: time to make the dosa. Or the panettone, for that matter, or the challah. There couldn’t be two better incentives to start sifting than the publication of two new books, each jammed with enough enticing recipes to return maligned bread to its rightful place at the table. Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her comprehensive The Bread Bible (Norton; $35), addresses the art and science of baking, with instructive line drawings, helpful pointers, and tidbits of wheaten wisdom called “understanding.” In this, her “bread biography,” Beranbaum tells her life in flour and water, from teething on a bagel to conquering sourdough starter—“the final frontier, the Zen of bread making.” Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid know a bit about Zen, too, having traversed Asia to research their strikingly illustrated Hot Sour Salty Sweet and Seductions of Rice. Their new HomeBaking (Artisan; $40) reads like a travelogue, with diarylike essays and vivid portrayals of home bakers around the world. From them, the authors learned to make Mennonite oatmeal cookies with schmaltz, Russian apple pancakes, sweet-potato roti, and, of all things, Montreal bagels. Not to worry, though: The Canadian couple redeem themselves with a recipe for New York–style calzones.
When Not In Rome
“Things don’t have to be from Italy to taste Italian,” says Silvana Nardone, whose new line of cookies and confections is a case in point. Before she launched Fanciulla Specialty Foods, Nardone co-wrote Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian and did publicity for Sullivan Street Bakery. But the real inspiration for her all-natural biscotti, moist and pleasingly grainy candied-orange-and-almond cookies, and nut-and-citrus-studded panforte (pictured) is the formative years she spent in Rome, her father’s hometown. Fanciulla products can be found at Dean & DeLuca, Gourmet Garage, and Brooklyn stores like the Bedford Cheese Shop, Sahadi’s, and Blue Apron Foods—“all the places,” says Nardone, “where I like to shop.”
What I need right now is beautiful soup.
Kill the chill at Bao Noodles with a steamy bowl of soothing Vietnamese pho (pronounce it fuh)—noodles with beef and oxtail in a thrillingly complex broth, or equally haunting Da Nang–style crab soup. Alas, this seedling of chef-architect Michael Huynh’s frenetically hot Bao 111 is a mixed blessing—a charming crew, but no reservations and cash only. (You’ll need that soup if you’re stalled on the sidewalk.) Still, two $7 bowls make a fabulous warm-up for our hungry four, followed by grilled short ribs wrapped around lemongrass, wonderfully smoky eggplant-and-shrimp salad, and the special, clams in a heady tamarind sauce. Sip Tiger beer. Get some sticky rice for your stir-fried squid with lemongrass or salt-and-pepper deep-fried calamari. A side of luscious pork belly is a must. Follow with spicy beef stew (better than the listless pork chop) and crisp snapper (if you like your fish well done). Share warm tapioca pudding or pandanus-leaf coconut-milk panna cotta. And there’s your $30 dinner, cheap and delicious.
391 Second Avenue, near 23rd Street