38 Macdougal St., nr. Prince St.; 212-475-7500
When Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer bought Provence, they found it impossible to overcome the institution’s image as a quintessentially romantic place, relegated to special occasions like marriage proposals and baby showers. So to generate more of an anytime, neighborhood following, they ditched the slightly precious French theme, replaced the wood paneling with white subway tile, and recast the space in the local-and-seasonal image of their other bustling American restaurants, Cookshop and Five Points. The menu will change often, featuring dishes like fried Ipswich-clam sandwiches, beef-tongue pastrami with potato salad, and New Orleans crawfish with grilled-ramp mayo and house-smoked bacon (pictured), with prices that top out at $22. Richard Luftig’s wine list is equally affordable, and like the communal tables in the bar and the garden room, large-format bottles of American craft beer encourage sharing.
355 W. 14th St., nr. Ninth Ave. 212-691-0555
Roughly translated from the Italian, fare la scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a hunk of bread—a practice that, depending upon the culinary circles you travel in, is considered either a sign of bad breeding or a compliment to the chef. That Scott Conant has taken it for the name of his new meatpacking-district restaurant should tell you that the former L’Impero and Alto chef has gone rustic. And a glance at his new menu, simply divided into assaggini (or small plates), pasta, and main courses, confirms it. From the spaghetti with tomato and basil to the roasted capretto, it reads like a Scott Conant greatest-hits list. There’s even a nod to the late, great Bar Tonno in a tuna “susci” appetizer. The skylit room, with its mahogany bar and white marble floor, has a rustic elegance, too.
214 E. 10th St., nr. First Ave. 866-602-8779
If you’re a fan of ramen, soba noodles, takoyaki, or obscure sakes, chances are you’ve savored them at one of the many restaurants and bars of Bon Yagi, co-owner of pioneering establishments like Rai Rai Ken, Soba-Ya, Otafuku, and Sakagura. Now—or at least as soon as Con Ed flips the switch—he tackles another culinary icon: Japanese curry. There are no tables at Curry-Ya, just fourteen wooden stools lined up along a marble counter, each with a built-in cubby to store belongings. Nine curries may be customized by size, spice level, and additional topping (corn, Cheddar, or natto) and feature ingredients like grilled hamburger and deep-fried potato croquette. Takeout and delivery forthcoming; cash only.