471 16th St., nr. Prospect Park W. no phone
Lia’s Ices is the name of this beachy new Windsor Terrace refreshment shack, but that’s only half the story. In addition to the Benfaremo ices, there’s also Ciao Bella gelato and sorbetto, and, best of all, mixed in among the smooth and creamy, a handful of notable gelato flavors like cassata, fichi, and zuppa Inglese, each distinguished by an asterisk. What do the asterisks indicate? “Oh, those are the ones we get from this old Italian guy,” explains the young scooper on duty one night. As it turns out, that old Italian guy is none other than erstwhile (and not that old, really) restaurateur Gino Cammarata, who, as ice-cream freaks know, is to gelato what Eric Ripert is to fish. Lia’s owner Frank Krug, you see, met Cammarata at the Alaska Sun tanning salon in Bensonhurst where Cammarata recently set up a makeshift gelati operation (tough economy!), liked what he saw, and enlisted his services. And who’s Lia? That would be Krug’s gelato-crazed niece.
87 Second Ave., at 5th St. 212-260-8018
Co-owner Andy Yang endured such a long delay during the construction of his pan-Asian bistro, Kurve, he found time to open a second restaurant, Rhong-Tiam, in the interim. But Kurve finally makes its debut this week, with a characteristically splashy Karim Rashid design and a menu that combines Eastern and Western ingredients and techniques. Dim sum range from shark’s-fin dumplings to foie gras shumai, and an assortment of salads includes a miso-dressed nori sampler and a Thai-style papaya salad with bigeye tuna. Yang incorporates premium ingredients like Kurobuta pork (in Penang curry) and lobster (with sea urchin and miso butter), and flouts the current economic climate with a $90 five-ounce Wagyu steak, served medium rare. Desserts, including yuzu panna cotta with huckleberries and black-pepper meringue, are courtesy of P*ong’s Pichet Ong.
Socarrat Paella Bar
259 W. 19th St., nr. Seventh Ave. 212-462-1000
Socarrat Paella Bar, named for that delectable crust that forms on the bottom of a paella pan, is the second restaurant venture of Jesus Manso, who also owns La Nacional at the Spanish Benevolent Society. Like that expat hangout, this 24-seat nook specializes in traditional tapas like gambas al ajillo and patatas bravas, and for the entrées, chef Felipe Camarillo, late of Suba and Marichu, focuses largely on paellas and fideuas, which substitute Spanish noodles for rice. Communal-table and bar seating are meant to evoke Sunday dinner at a friend’s house, if that friend’s abode was designed by the team responsible for the looks of Allen & Delancey and Elettaria.