Although no one has seen Dave Pasternack wearing a beret and biking around the city, a baguette under his arm, or Mario Batali loafing all day in a café gulping pastis, it turns out that the Italian-cooking stars and Esca partners are Francophiles. They even pronounce the name of their restaurant, Bistro du Vent, with an Inspector Clouseau flair. Besides, Pasternack has great Gallic credentials: chef de cuisine at Picholine, plus turns at Steak Frites and Prix Fixe. Though the West 42nd Street location, in the same building that houses Esca, isn’t quite the Riviera, “the feel and pace will be Cote d’Azur, Provence, and a touch of Liguria,” says Batali. Expect “very simple” food, adds Pasternack: socca (chickpea-flour crêpes) served as an amuse-bouche or filled with ratatouille, soupe au pistou, and daube of beef short ribs. There’ll be a salade niçoise at lunch, but its style is anyone’s guess: “We’ll roast a loin of tuna and slice it thin,” says Pasternack. “We’ll do it the right way, with canned tuna,” responds Batali. Already, a kitchen clash. How French.
Bistro du Vent, 411 West 42nd Street; opens October.