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Gourmet Gossip: May 2014

IvanRamen400x290In this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting new 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 Danny Meyer’s foray into pizza to Justin Smillie’s new big money partner and Ivan Orkin’s long-awaited debut on the Lower East Side.

Rockin’ Ramen: It’s hard to make waves with ramen in a city so increasingly saturated with it, but Ivan Orkin is not your average noodle purveyor.  After a seemingly endless wait (at least we had Slurp Shop in the Gotham West Market to keep us occupied), the Long Island boy turned Tokyo hero has finally opened his first New York eatery.  Located on the Lower East Side, the restaurant has a whittled down menu of just six ramen dishes (Orkin’s Japanese joints have 24), like Triple Pork Triple Garlic and Spicy Red Chili, plus an assortment of often offal-heavy appetizers, such as Fried Chicken Hearts and Livers, and an Okonomiyaki-inspired Waffle made of Pennsylvania Scrapple.  If anyone could make us crave pork scrap mush, it’s Ivan Orkin.

LHB8l5z-360More Meyer: Danny Meyer’s prolific Union Square Hospitality Group will soon open a pizza place called Marta in the King & Grove Hotel in Gramercy (the Brooklyn outpost of the boutique hotel houses Paul Liebrandt’s The Elm).  Slated to debut in August, the kitchen will be helmed by Maialino’s own, chef Nick Anderer, with wood-burning ovens for turning out thin-crusted, Roman-style pies.  The restaurant will also supply room service, providing King & Grove guests with an undoubtedly elevated option when they feel like calling for delivery pizza.

Chock Full O’ Nutella: New York’s very first all-Nutella bar just opened inside of Eataly on Monday, taking the place of its wine store due to “interlocking interests” (the SLA took issue with the Bastianich family being both vino producers and retailers).  Everyone’s favorite chocolate hazelnut spread can either be ordered in the café smeared on slabs of rustic bread, muffins, crepes, pastries or tarts, or purchased and enjoyed in the privacy and comfort of your own home (where it’s perfectly acceptable to use your fingers as a vessel).

Smillie Settles: It was a bit of a shocker when Justin Smillie announced he would be departing from the lovely Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, but at least now we know why.  The James Beard award-nominated chef is teaming up with bigwig restaurateur Stephen Starr (of Morimoto, Buddakan and El Vez) to open a Mediterranean farm-to-table restaurant in the old Manzanilla space in Gramercy this fall.  We just hope Starr will curb his penchant for eye-popping, razzle-dazzle and allow Smillie to continue to turn out simple, elegant food.

Rebar-ReceptionLowering the Bar: The sordid saga continues at ReBar in DUMBO, which shuttered abruptly last week, leaving staff without three weeks worth of pay, and brides and grooms that had already booked weddings there in the lurch.  The Brooklyn DA is now officially investigating owner Jason Stevens, who has since disappeared with upwards of $170,000 in cash and wedding deposits, appearing to owe millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.  In the meantime, the restaurant community is rallying around ReBar victims, offering discounts and last-minute bookings to the jilted wedding parties, and raising funds for the forsaken staff.

Out, Damn Spot: You might think that any neighborhood would be angling to get their very own outpost of the Spotted Pig (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year), but CB3 recently turned down April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s request for a space on Avenue A, citing the need for “more retail balance.”  The duo will continue looking for a home base for Spotted Pig 2.0 elsewhere — may we suggest the far reaches of Southern Brooklyn?

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