It’s a Michael White Two-fer!
For food writers, each year generally ends with a flurry of restaurant “Best Of” listicles, chronicling the highs and lows of eateries both old and new. But as soon as the calendar reads January 2nd, we hit the reset button, turning our attention towards a brand new crop of impending openings. From Michael White’s eagerly anticipated double header in Manhattan (The Butterfly and Ristorante Morini), to Andy Ricker’s continued expansion of his Pok Pok empire in Brooklyn (Whiskey Soda Lounge), it’s already shaping up to be a banner year for the New York restaurant scene. And who knows? A few of them just might make our “Best Of” lists at the close of 2013.
Address: 181 Thompson St. btwn W. 3rd St & LaGuardia Pl.
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone hit it out of the ballpark when they opened Torrisi Italian Specialties in 2009, an unapologetic love letter to the Italian American table. They were equally successful with their casual Italian hero shop-cum-diner, Parm. And they look set to score a winning trifecta with Carbone, which is on track to open in the West Village in the next couple of months. Modeled after old-school Italian restaurants of yore, you can bet the tablecloths will be checkered, the waiters will be wearing dinner jackets and bow ties, and platters of red-sauce slathered pasta will be at the heart of the menu.
Andy Ricker’s Brooklyn Expansion Continues.
Pok Pok Whiskey Soda Lounge
Address: 115 Columbia Street, at Kane St.
Tired of idling the streets of Brooklyn for an excess of two hours, waiting in vain for a tiny table to clear at Pok Pok Ny? Well, come spring you can idle away at Andy Ricker’s new Whiskey Soda Lounge. Sweet, no? Just like its Portland counterpart, the menu will focus on the bar food of Thailand (think Shrimp Chips, Pig Ear Strips and Chicken Wings), all accompanied by plenty of drinking vinegar-based cocktails. You can either use it as a weighleigh station as you wait for a table to turn at Pok Pok or revel in the barstool you managed to snag and settle in to sample the scope of Ricker’s inspired Southeast Asian pub grub.
Address: 380 Lafayette St. btwn 4th and Great Jones Sts.
Andrew Carmellini (of The Dutch and Locanda Verde), will open his biggest restaurant yet in the coming months, inside the Noho space that used to house Chinatown Brasserie. If you don’t know, Carmellini first made a name for himself as the executive chef at the refined French Cafe Boulud, and we’ve been waiting for him to strut his French talents again ever since. His upcoming French bistro will boast an in-house bakery, a custom-built rotisserie, and an adjoining café with take-out. Carmellini snagged Chef de Cuisine Damon Wise from Colicchio & Sons to helm the kitchen with a focus on regional dishes from Southern France, like Mushroom and Bacon Tarts, Turbot “Marie Claire,” and Foie Gras with Pain d’épices and Figs.
The UWS is Getting Pac-Man Dumplings.
Address: 2710 Broadway, btwn W. 103 & 104th Sts.
Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng are heading uptown with their popular, modern Chinese eatery, RedFarm, debuting a second, larger outpost in the former Fatty Crab space. Which means there’s a better chance of scoring a table for their already famous dim sum. Unfortunately, Upper West Side residents will have to wait until spring for a taste of their inventive, Greenmarket-inspired dishes, like Diced Lamb with Broccoli and White Asparagus, Bentons Bacon and Egg Fried Rice, and Scallop and Squid Shu Mai Shooters in a Carrot and Ginger Bisque. But patience is a virtue.
Address: 225 West Broadway, at White St.
Michael White’s making his mark all over Manhattan these days, from Central Park South to Nolita and now Tribeca. And while we’d expect Italian or even Mediterranean from this chef, we never saw this one coming. His new Tribeca venue will be a mid-century style cocktail bar with a supper club feel come April. Though there’s a small menu of comfort foods, the cocktails, the work of Eben Freeman, will be the star of the show at Butterfly. Look for unusually fashionable waitresses to rock custom-made aprons by designer Erin Fetherston… her workshop is right above the restaurant. Can’t wait to get our drink on here.
Rustic Osteria Morini is getting a fine dining counterpart. Let’s hope the pasta is every bit as good.
Address: 1167 Madison Ave., btwn E. 85th & 86th Sts.
There’s an April opening date as of yet for this two-story restaurant, which will include a casual café on the ground floor and a white tablecloth dining room up above, but we’re looking forward to this one nonetheless. A more upscale counterpoint to White’s popular trattoria, Osteria Morini, the menu at this Upper East Side eatery will draw inspiration from all over Italy (the rustic Osteria Morini focuses on Emilia Romagna). And the restaurant is already fully staffed with a recognizable cast of Altamarea Group regulars… Gordon Finn from Alto will be the Chef de Cuisine, and Richard Anderson, currently of Marea, will be the Sommelier.
Address: 38 E. 19th St., btwn Broadway & Park Avenue South
Exactly how hot can Latin cooking get? We’re about to find out. Jean-Georges Vongerichten has conquered quite a bit of culinary territory in his charmed career. But he’s about to venture into new territory once again, with a new Latin venture, which will open right next to ABC Kitchen this summer, in the space that used to house tapas spot, Pipa. And although both restaurants will share a locavore aesthetic (as well as an interior designer), you can expect a lot more spice and plenty of chile-spiced small plates at ABC Cocina. If ABC Kitchen is any indiciation, we expect terrific things from Vongerichten and his executive chef, Dan Kluger.
Ramen maestro Ivan Orkin is coming to the Lower East Side.
Address: 25 Clinton St., btwn Stanton & East Houston Sts.
After scuffles with the local Community Board, ramen specialist Ivan Orkin has finally confirmed that he will open his first stateside noodle joint on Clinton Street this spring. His new eatery will have 60 seats, a full bar, a ramen counter, and even a Japanese garden to slurp noodles in. Known throughout Tokyo for redefining ramen (Orkin made his own noodles and cooked the meat before adding it to the broth), Orkin will be deliciously skirting tradition at his LES eatery with dishes the likes of Crispy Fried Ramen with Chili Dust and Smoked Sea Salt, Slow Roasted Tomato Donburi with Bitter Greens, and Roasted Garlic Mazemen with Garlic Confit and Schmaltz. Yum.
Tavern on the Green
Address: 67 Central Park West at 67th St.
Though it had devolved into an outdated tourist trap, there are few restaurants in the city as breathtaking or quite as iconic as Tavern on the Green on the Western edge of Central Park. Thankfully, Tavern on the Green is getting a new lease on life this year, reopening with a seasonal American menu from the very talented Katy Sparks, who’s busy dreaming up dishes, like a Montauk Squid Salad, Pork Chop with Cauliflower Gratin, or Duck with Goat Cheese Pudding. While there are plans for a take-out window for casual passerby, rest assured, they’ll also be hundreds of seats inside, plus a sprawling patio to soak up the great outdoors.
Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis will be keepin’ it quirky at M. Wells Steakhouse.
M. Wells Steakhouse
Address: 43-15 Crescent Street, at 43rd Ave.
Husband-and-wife team Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis got plenty of buzz for their since shuttered M. Wells Diner, which served everything from all day breakfast and Banana Cream Pie to Bone Marrow, Snails, and Pickled Pigs Tongue. But they still have people talking over at M. Wells Dinette, where guests can eat Rabbit Terrine at shared school desks in MoMa’s PS1. And we can only imagine the levels of quirk (and organ meat), that will be on display when they open M. Wells Steakhouse hopefully by springtime. Expect to eat European-style cuts of meat, accompanied by sauces, in a converted Long Island City auto body shop replete with a catamaran (yes, really).