Gourmet Gossip: February 2017
In this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting restaurant opening, a devastating closing, a shocking chef shuffle, or a groundbreaking, must-try dish. That’s why we’re keeping you apprised of the industry’s most noteworthy bits and bites — from the announcement of this year’s James Beard Award noms, to Manhattan’s eagerly awaited Golden Girls café.
Boring Beards: Semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Awards have just been announced — although we’re suspicious they may have simply recycled the 2016 (and 15, and 14, and 13) lists. Perennials like The Spotted Pig, Hearth and Momofuku Noodle Bar have gotten nods yet again, with the few new faces up for the (go figure) Best New Restaurant honor — expect Le Coucou and Olmsted to bask in JBF love for years to come.
Stay Gold: The city’s first (make that world’s first?) Golden Girls-themed eatery has officially opened for business in Washington Heights. Christened Rue La Rue Café, the sassy space is plastered with cast photos and memorabilia; such as a case displaying Rue McClanahan’s Emmy, and mannequins modeling her character, Blanche’s outfits. As for the menu, expect slices of cheesecake, of course, inspired by each of the girls, including a Betty White Cake and Dorothy’s Salted Caramel.
Toque Takeover: With Mark Ladner out of the picture (to focus on Pasta Flyer, his fast-casual noodle concept), Melissa Rodriguez has officially stepped up to the plate at Del Posto. Part of the team since 2011, the once chef de cuisine is making incremental changes to the four-star restaurant; commissioning Brooklyn Bread Lab’s Adam Leonti to bake the bagatini, and reinterpreting Ladner’s infamous, 100-layer lasagna as “Girello Genovese;” filled and rolled with porcini mushrooms and pork.
Mary Quite Contrary: The husband-and-wife owned Hail Mary (a finer diner run by Atera and Empellon alums) is shuttering in Greenpoint after scarcely year. Occupying a simply massive — and some might say cursed — space, the spot drew plenty of praise (if not, unfortunately, crowds) for towering Funfetti Cakes, Burrata and Guanciale Malts, and Hot Chicken with the talons still attached.
A Slippery Customer: While not exactly a single-concept restaurant, the upcoming Aburi Ittetsu has a very unusual focus; eels. Located on Kenmare Street, the eatery will import live, freshwater specimens directly from Japan, to be incorporated into dishes like unadon; broiled eel over rice.
In Da Club: The Tao Group is at it again with the over-the-top Fishbowl, a “retro adult playground” in the Dream Hotel Midtown. It features skee ball, pinball, mini bowling lanes and a 5000-gallon fish tank filled with over 150 types of salt water fish, as well as an equally irreverent menu. We’re talking Loaded Nachos, Wagyu Patty Melts and Gorgonzola Garlic Bread, with cocktails such as the “Rum Cannonball” — boasting Bacardi, pineapple, aperol and lime.