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Last Licks of Summer

Just because Labor Day is around the bend doesn’t mean summer’s over.  Not until September 22nd anyway.  We say there’s still plenty of time to enjoy all that summer has to offer — watermelon, corn mint, sugar snap peas, and crab.  And chefs all over the city are using these fresh, flavorful ingredients to create dishes that capture the essence of the season.  There’s the Watermelon Gazpacho at Bell Book and Candle, Locanda Verde’s Burrata with Wood-Fired Peaches and the Tomato Panzanella at Perla.  Here’s a few restaurants worthy of a visit for one last bite of summer before it’s officially over…

The Frozen Raspberry Parfait with Sweet Pea Sorbet at Dovetail
Address: 103 W. 77th St., at Columbus Ave.
Phone: (212) 362-3800
Chef John Fraser has won over the hearts of New Yorkers (and the people over at Michelin) with his devotion to using farm fresh, seasonal ingredients at Dovetail.  He’s so dedicated to the cause that he actually has a forager on retainer.  And with an ever-changing menu, you know that he’s only using the best of what’s around.  Right now, we’re loving the Frozen Raspberry Parfait with Crème Fraiche.  A playful and vibrant dish with bright greens and deep purples, it’s a surprising blend of tart raspberry puree, sweet pea sorbet, and wild mint sponge cake.  While you’re there, sample Fraser’s Lobster and Sea Scallops with Corn, mingled with chanterelle mushrooms and anise hyssop, adding some subtle sweet and earthy tones to the dish.

The Striped Bass with Corn and Clam Salad at Prune
Address: 54 E. 1st St., btwn 1st and 2nd Ave.
Phone: (212) 677-6221
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton has a passion for simplicity and the menu at Prune demonstrates what she can do with a few, simple ingredients.  And boy can this girl can cook.  This summer, Hamilton’s milking the warm weather, showcasing everything from Lobster Rolls with Mache at lunch to a Roast Suckling Pig with Pickled Tomatoes at dinner, and Rhubarb-Bourbon Bread Pudding for dessert.  But the dish we’ll miss the most come fall is her Striped Bass with Corn & Clam Salad.  She grills the fish whole, plating it with a bright mix of sweet corn and briny clams.  There’s a lot to love this season, including the Shared Asparagus with mint and lava beans and Green & Yellow Beans, uniquely anointed with a smoky eggplant sauce, dried tomatoes and a sprinkling of pine nuts for added crunch.  Go for Prune’s infamous brunch and check out their one-of-a-kind Bloody Mary menu, with lots of unusual variations, including a “Chicago Matchbox” made with homemade lemon vodka, pickled Brussels sprouts, turnips, green beans and radishes.

The Watermelon Gazpacho at Bell Book and Candle
Address: 141 W. 10th St., btwn 6th and 7th Ave.
Phone: (212) 414-2355
When it comes to eating locally, you can’t get more local in New York than the “rooftop-to-table” dining at Bell Book and Candle.  In fact, 60% of the produce on their menu is grown there and most go from the roof to your plate with very little fuss.  What really sets this spot apart are the unexpected flavor combinations, like Heirloom Peach Salad with Blue Cheese and Raisins, Watermelon Gazapacho, and even an Asparagus Pistachio Soup.   One of our favorite dishes on the menu right now is the Housemade Burrata with Blistered Tomatoes and Rooftop Basil & Garlic, and the Roasted Chicken with Rooftop Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and herbs.

The Minestra di Stagione at Rosemary
Address: 18 Greenwich Ave., at 10th St.
Phone: (212) 647-1818
Rosemary’s is a relative newcomer to the restaurant scene, but with Carlos Suarez of Bobo in charge and Wade Moises (of Lupa and Babbo) in the kitchen, this West Village spot is already making waves.  The space itself has an airy, farmhouse feel to it thanks to big windows, exposed brick, bistro-style lighting, and an open kitchen.  And then there’s the rooftop garden.  Many of the herbs and vegetables you find on the menu are plucked from the rooftop and lowered down to the dining room in a basket.  For summer, Rosemary’s is featuring “Minestra di Stagione” (or the “ultimate minestrone” as they call it), a summer vegetable soup as well as a handmade Cavatelli with fresh mint, peas, and ricotta.  There’s Beets mingled with dandelion and hazelnuts, a Zucchini Crudo, and a killer house made mozzarella served with Local Tomatoes and Basil.  Sounds like the perfect way to spend these last lazy summer days.

The Local Tomato Panzanella at Perla
Address: 24 Minetta Ln., btwn. 6th Ave. & MacDougal St.
Phone: (212) 933-1824
When it comes to traditional Italian cooking, Chef Michael Toscano is a master.  He’s worked in the kitchens of Babbo and Eataly, but Perla is really his shining moment.  He’s taken the West Village by storm with his casual, but serious take on Italian food and his innovative style.  And while we’re big fans of his Potato chips all’Amatriciana, his seasonally-minded dishes are what’s on our mind this time of year. Our favorite is the Local Tomato Panzanella Salad, a mix of watermelon, cucumber, red onion, and fresh basil.  Toscano also summons up summer with Sugar Snap and Snow Peas with Pickled Rhubarb and Goat’s Milk Ricotta, and a Black Tagliatelle with Peekytoe Crab.

The Burrata with Wood-Fired Peaches at Locanda Verde
Address: 377 Greenwich St., at N. Moore St.
Phone: (212) 925-3797
Sadly, summer’s stone fruits won’t be in season for much longer.  So if you’re trying to get your peach fix while you still can, head to Locanda Verde.  Their Burrata with Wood-Fired Peaches is a dreamy combination of crazy creamy cheese paired with warm, sweet, tart slices of peach.  The rest of the menu at this Tribeca Italian is just as good and seasonal.  Where to begin? How about Andrew Carmellini’s signature, Blue Crab Crostini, a balance of sweet strands of crab, mingled with a spicy jalapeño and tomato salsa of sorts.  There’s Local Tomatoes with watermelon and smoked ricotta as well as a summery, Beet and Goat Cheese Raviolini drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  And then there are Karen DeMasco’s desserts, like the Peach Crostada or the Blueberry Honey Upside-down Cake.

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