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Gourmet Gossip: August 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 unexpected return of a duo of esteemed eateries to a gluten-free pasta project from the original “Top Chef.”

Hello JoJo and Coco Pazzo: Fall is generally prime time for brand new restaurant debuts, but this season, we’re awaiting the return of two verifiable NYC vets.  After a decade, the old school Italian Coco Pazzo (whose past employees include Cesare Casella and Anthony Bourdain) will bring bistecca alla fiorentina, seafood stew and soufflé back to SoHo.  And while Jean-Georges is certainly busy tucking new concepts under his belt, he’s still managed to breathe life into his first solo venture, JoJo; the two-story, 25-year old bistro will once again inhabit its UES brownstone, after a 12-month, restorative shutter.

Using His Noodle: In addition to certain restaurants returning to the NYC scene after an extended sabbatical, so too are a few beleaguered chefs. After taking a break in the wake of Perilla and Kin Shop’s closures, Harold Dieterle appears ready to get back on the horse.  In partnership with E.E. Hospitality, the original “Top Chef” has taken the reigns of an all-gluten free Italian place called Tali & Tali Dolce, which will somehow eliminate wheat from a lineup of panini, pastries and pastas; look for meyer lemon spaghetti and yellow squash ravioli.

Number’s Up: A potential investor with cash to burn and a love of brew could do the East Village a major favor, by helping keep 12-year-old craft beer destination, Jimmy’s. No.43, solvent.  According to gregarious owner, Jimmy Carbone (host of the long-running Beer Sessions podcast on Heritage Radio, and producer of events like Pig Island and the NYC Hot Sauce Expo), the speakeasy’s summer shutter could be for good, if he can’t find a partner to help pay back rent, and help absorb a newer, higher rate.

Sweets for the Sweet: Need a compelling reason to say yes to dessert?  How about Citymeals on Wheels’ annual fundraiser, “Sweet September?”  For the duration of the month, a slew of spots throughout the city will donate proceeds from their tastiest treats to help feed the homebound elderly — so stock up on cups of cookie dough from , salty caramel custard donuts courtesy of Colonie, and candied walnut-smothered brownie sundaes from Charlie Palmer Steak.

Leonti and the Law: While the city has definitely been excited by the promising presence of Vetri alum, Adam Leonti, the Big Apple hasn’t proved especially welcoming to the talented young chef.  After an auspicious start at the pop-up Brooklyn Bread Lab, he moved to his fulltime position at the Williamsburg Hotel’s (yet to open) Harvey, and abandoned ship for Sessanta not too long afterwards for undisclosed reasons.  Yet it seems that the hotel has filed an aggressive, non-compete lawsuit — costing Leonti his post at (not just Sessanta), but other restaurants as well.  We hope the story ends well for Leonti; although it doesn’t paint an especially pretty picture of the Williamsburg Hotel.

Bye Bye Bao: In an odd move from the purveyor of one of the year’s most feverishly Instagram foods, Drunken Dumpling is removing its XL Xiao Long Bao from the menu.  Essentially filled with a bowl’s worth of soup, the owner fretted that she couldn’t maintain the quality of her thin-skinned yet super-sized dumplings — an admirable (yet entirely unusual) reason, nowadays, for pulling the plug on a guaranteed social media magnet.

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