After six years of hunting, Gray Kunz builds his own home—but he’s still sweating the small stuff.
The seafood follow up to Laurent Tourondel’s wildly popular BLT Steak.
Bistro du Vent
Italian-cooking stars and Esca partners Dave Pasternack and Mario Batali trade pesto for pistou.
L’Impero’s Scott Conant creates a Shangri-la for the raw-fish fan.
Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven
Jacques Torres wasn’t satisfied with buying his chocolate—so he built a factory. In Soho.
3 Promising Pizza Parlors
Pizzerias serving passable pies are everywhere, but here’s a glimpse of pizza perfection.
Food appreciation comes to the Museum of Modern Art.
What are you looking forward to this fall? Ask a Zagat
Ted Zagat, COO, Zagat SurveyTaste: I’m not a snob. I prefer casual places, and value is important.
Looking forward to: Café Gray in the Time Warner Center, Gray Kunz’s first place of his own since leaving Lespinasse in 1998; and the Modern, part of the renovated Museum of Modern Art, Danny Meyer’s first foray above 27th Street.
Wish list: A velvet rope that only applies to people who think there should be a velvet rope, a La-Z-Boy and expandable pants for after the meal, and free refills of top-shelf booze. Also, the long-awaited New York counterpart to Paris’s Buddha Bar, which was supposed to open in ’03 and then ’04 and now has been pushed back to ’05.
Best of the Rest
Caterer and cookbook author Suvir Saran made haute Indian hot at Amma, where he experimented with vegetarian tasting menus and wine pairings—both of which he’ll bring to his new digs, along with dishes like tandoor-grilled Jamison lamb chops plated with pear chutney and curry-leaf potatoes.
8 East 18th Street; mid-September.
The Canteen team takes a new direction with their subterranean Soho space, anticipating smooth sailing with yacht-inspired décor like teak paneling, white leather banquettes, and navy trim. The motif is reflected in the menu, a medley of the raw (oysters, carpaccios, seviches, tartares) and the cooked (fried calamari and crab cakes).
142 Mercer Street; mid-September.
A new Japanese arrival on the street where people meet to eat features kushiage—skewered and deep-fried meat, fish, and vegetables—plus sushi, soba, and exotica like uni au gratin and poached egg with consommé jelly and shrimp.
25 Clinton Street; mid-September.
EN Japanese Brasserie
A brother-and-sister team from Japan make a grand Manhattan entrance with their expansive take on an izakaya, or Japanese pub, serving homemade tofu, sansho-miso-braised pork belly, and yuba sashimi à la carte and in variously priced omakase meals.
435 Hudson Street; late September.
After a commendably long run and a rotating roster of chefs, Park Slope pioneer Cucina morphs into a new Mediterranean restaurant serving sophisticated fare like crispy veal sweetbreads agrodolce and saffron gnoccetti with Sardinian meat ragù. The three partners are veterans of the Batali-Bastianich culinary kingdom, which might be why a few details—house-made porchetta, wine by the quartino—ring a bell.
256 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn; late September.
At New York’s first Kimpton hotel—the West Coast boutique brand known for off-the-wall décor and destination restaurants—chef Kevin Reilly, formerly of Zoë, pays homage to New York institutions like Yonah Schimmel and Grand Central Oyster Bar with his short-rib knish and shellfish pan roast.
43 East 38th Street; late September.
The owners of Molyvos take a stroll around the corner (and a culinary leap across the Ionian Sea) to open this Italian restaurant anchoring the ground floor of the new Blakely hotel, an English-club-themed enterprise from the partners behind the Mercer and the Maritime. Anall-Italian wine list accompanies dishes like stuffed mussels, spinach lasagne alla Bolognese, and bistecca alla fiorentina.
138 West 55th Street; early October.
Who knew Syracuse was home to some of the country’s best-loved barbecue? Tom Valenti, for one, who loves the sauce-slathered, slow-cooked stuff so much he invested in the first Manhattan branch.
646 West 131st Street; late October.
Jewel Bako RobataJack and Grace Lamb continue to build their tiny East Village empire with the simultaneous expansion of the original Jewel Bako, and this adjacent robata bar devoted to the Japanese art of grilled and skewered delicacies like Kobe beef, live lobster, and giant clams.
239 East 5th Street; late October.
Bottega del Vino
Bottega’s wine guru Severino Barzan, owner of the legendary Verona establishment, teams up with his childhood pal and Via Quadronno co-owner Paolo della Puppa to re-create what many connoisseurs consider the world’s greatest wine bar. A representative 35,000-bottle sample from Bottega’s 130,000-bottle collection should help.
7 East 59th Street; late October.
Kitchen and Cocktails
San Francisco’s Luna Park spawns a New York satellite with the same casual ambience, lively bar scene, and multiculti menu, featuring Hawaiian-tuna poke with fried wonton chips, curry pork satay, and oven-baked macaroni and cheese with Neuske smoked ham. We’re intrigued by the lunchtime “flatwiches,” West Coast-speak for panini—especially the Autostrada model (hot coppa, salami, mortadella, aged provolone, and pepperoncini relish).
199 Orchard Street; late October.
Just when you think the meatpacking district had exceeded its quota of cooler-than-thou restaurants, here comes another, courtesy of Jeffrey Chodorow and situated in the luminescent Hotel Gansevoort. The menu encompasses the raw (sushi) and the theatrically cooked (robatayaki, or food grilled over an open flame), and the sleek design features communal tables, tatami rooms, and private cabanas equipped with projection screens.
18 Ninth Avenue; late October.
Lady M Cake Boutique
Previously relegated to department-store gourmet departments, this exquisite line of cakes gets the setting it deserves: a custom-designed, spotlit showcase that runs the length of the twelve-seat café. It’s hard to resist the twenty-layer mille crêpes concoction that made Lady M famous, but if you do, there are 29 more varieties to sample—plus a selection of panini and gelati.
41 East 78th Street; October.
R.U.B. stands for Righteous Urban Barbecue, and if it’s anything like the seriously succulent hickory-smoked meats that partner and Kansas City barbecue legend Paul Kirk served up at this summer’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, we’re in for a treat. The menu reads like a greatest hits of ’cue, including brisket, pulled pork, barbecued chicken, ham, and sausage available by the pound or the platter, as well as intriguing oddities like deep-fried ribs, Sichuan smoked duck, and slow-cooked pastrami (that’s the urban part).
208 West 23rd Street; early November.
Rickshaw Dumpling Bar
Like many a fine-dining chef before her, Annisa’s Anita Lo joins the fast-food fray—this time, with a dumpling bar offering deluxe varieties like Peking duck and wasabi shrimp, available steamed, fried, or in broth. Plus green-tea milkshakes and sesame mochi soup dumplings for dessert.
61 West 23rd Street; early November.
The Stanton Social
Chris Santos is no Lower East Side neophyte; he ran the kitchen at the short-lived Wyanoka, did a stint at Suba, and reemerges this fall with a multiethnic small-plates menu meant for sharing. Prepare to pass the escargot, pulled-pork buns, lobster spring rolls, and flight of soufflés.
99 Stanton Street; early November.
Few Caucasians have penetrated the Chinese-restaurant inner circle as deeply and devotedly as Eddie Schoenfeld, a veteran of Shun Lee West, Auntie Yuan, and Uncle Tai’s. He’s finally opening a place of his own, backed by Ollie’s, the West Side noodle-shop juggernaut.
1081 Third Avenue, near 64th Street; mid-November.
The owners of Noho’s thriving Five Points expand into West Chelsea with a similarly seasonal, Mediterranean-accented menu—most of it cooked in or on the wood-burning oven, rotisserie, and grill. Huge picture windows on two sides afford perfect views of the passing gallery-going parade.
156 Tenth Avenue, at 20th Street; mid-December.