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Gourmet Gossip New York — August 2014

mario-batali-joe-bastianich-1110-lg-33277899In 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 Mario Batali’s newest project in The Maritime Hotel to a mass exodus from Plaza Hotel neighbor, Beautique, and Food & Wine’s upcoming, culinary salon for visiting chefs.

Molto Mario: Mario Batali and longtime partner, Joe Bastianich, could hardly be accused of resting on their laurels (after all, the pair own Babbo, Otto, Bar Jamon, Esca, Lupa, and oh yeah, Eataly), but they actually haven’t opened a new spot in NYC since launching fine dining mecca, Del Posto, in 2006.  Well, it seems the dynamic duo is slipping into high gear once again, recently inking a deal to take over the entire food and beverage program at Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel.  That means (among other things), that they’re doing away with well-liked in-house restaurant, La Bottega, and replacing it with a new eatery focused on fare from the Italian coast.  But don’t worry about booking that hotel suite now; B & B’s Mediterranean takeover won’t be complete until 2015.

20110426-empellon-07More Pastor: Add this upcoming Alex Stupak spot to highly anticipated fall openings — a casual little sibling to his growing Empellon empire.  Called Empellon al Pastor, the laid-back bar and taqueria will specialize in (what else?) Tacos al Pastor, served on housemade tortillas, as well as DIY Lamb Barbacoa tacos, an assortment of Micheladas (including one devised by former wd-50 boss, Wylie Dufresne), and — shocker, considering Stupak began his career as a pastry chef — no desserts.  That being said, his aptitude with dough is sure to come in handy when hand-cranking and pressing those from-scratch tortillas.

Beautique Bummer: Shortly into his tenure at the tony, modern American Beautique, smartly situated right next door to the iconic Plaza Hotel, Le Cirque alum Craig Hopson has abandoned his executive chef post.  And he’s not the only one; co-owner Frank Roberts has also jumped ship, citing creative differences with the other partners.  We’ve heard this story before… the restaurant may limp along with a rotating cast of partners and chefs for a while yet, but “creative differences” is often code for “impending shutter” at similar New York establishments.

a_560x375Labor of Love: Longtime life partners, Buvette’s Jody Williams and I Sodi’s Rita Sodi, are finally teaming up on a joint culinary venture. Called Via Carota, the West Village café will feature an all-day menu, starting with Italian pastries and Counter Culture coffee in the mornings, and aperitivi, cocktails, and no-fuss, rustic fare throughout the day and into the night. Think Crispy Artichokes, Fried Zucchini Blossoms, Sardines with Raisins and Breadcrumbs, Grilled Chicken and house-made Focaccia.  Perhaps Via Carota will help free up some seats at the nearby, reliably jam-packed Buvette.

Yes, Chef: In the style of Sarah Simmons’ City Grit, Food & Wine is staging its own Nolita dinner club, starring a rotating list of visiting, guest chefs.  Named, appropriately enough, Chef’s Club, the ever-evolving restaurant will take place in the ground floor of the Puck Building, and feature a la carte menus from prominent chefs from around the country, overseen by Adour vet Didier Elena.  First on board is Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Colorado’s Frasca Food and Wine, followed by Gabriel Rucker of Portland’s Le Pigeon, Linton Hopkins of Holeman & Finch in Atlanta, and Erik Anderson, formerly of The Catbird Seat in Nashville.  The project should be up in running in a month or so, so keep your eyes peeled for official dates and further details!

cidersCider House Rules: In case you haven’t noticed, cider is having a real moment, quickly becoming just as respected a beverage choice as beer or wine.  The owners of Queens Kickshaw have helped usher in that renaissance, offering a carefully curated cider program unrivalled by any in the city.  And now, they’re taking their mission to spread the gospel of fermented apple juice even further, by opening up New York’s very first cider bar and restaurant.  Called Wassail, the Lower East Side destination will showcase ciders from all around the world, use pear and apple-based spirits in their cocktails, such as Calvados, apple brandy, and pear eau de vie, and design their food menu to match the drinks, pairing Spanish fare with Spanish cider and French fare with French cider, also incorporating fresh fruit, spirits and cider into a number of their dishes.  How do you like them apples?

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