Italian

Upland

Upland-10

Prolific restauranteur Stephen Starr has created many restaurants that loom large in our collective New York memory, but most are not memorable for the food. If you ever had a girlfriend who wanted a “Sex and the City” type experience when visiting New York, all you had to do was book a table at the latest Stephen Starr place. They were all consistently glitzy, sleek and populated with pretty young things. But now Starr has made an interesting match with chef Justin Smillie, who’s just as serious about food as Starr is about setting the scene.  (more…)

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Red Gravy

Exterior, Red Gravy

Saul Bolton’s casual Italian restaurant sits on a stretch of Atlantic Avenue that used to feel desolate not so long ago, when the border between Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and the wilds of Red Hook was home to only a few solitary bars and take-out joints. But now the long-shuttered Long Island Bar has reopened, Colonie set up shop across the street, and Bolton of the Michelin-starred Saul, now relocated to the Brooklyn Museum, opened Red Gravy. In the give-the-people-what-they-want school of thought, he has definitely succeeded, stepping into a vacuum and creating just the sort of approachable neighborhood place the neighborhood never knew it needed until now.  (more…)

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Charlie Bird

Olive Oli Cake, Charlie Bird NYC

Charlie Bird: the name is like a catchy tune that everyone is humming. You hear it on the streets, you see it in the papers, until you too are thinking Charlie Bird, Charlie Bird, I’ve got to get there. And once you’re inside the place, the song keeps going, this time as actual music, not Charlie “Bird” Parker’s bebop but hip hop with a beat. Even the Conde Nast editor sitting next to me was bobbing her head in time, as were the post-production guys at the next table. This is a place that brings together New Yorkers from all walks of life.  (more…)

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Quality Italian

Returning to New York after a long trip can be a shock to the system, like stepping out of a perfectly ordinary afternoon and into a Baz Luhrmann movie. It’s the world as you know it, but bigger, louder, shinier, like an advertisement come to life.

Quality Italian is not just an Italian restaurant, it’s a very New York Italian restaurant, with a brashness that can wow you in small amounts or turn you off in excess. It’s helmed by Michael Stillman of Quality Meats, who opened this Italian spin-off in a bi-level space smack dab in the land of big business: 57th and 6th, home base for many financial firms, talent agencies and luxury brand headquarters. Many of these banking and business power players are already in the house, probably drawn to an upstairs dining room that’s hidden to any tourists ambling by on the street, where only the small downstairs wine and espresso bar are visible.  (more…)

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The Marrow

If it’s true that “you are what you eat,” we also are what we grow up eating. Harold Dieterle, the chef behind the Thai restaurant Kin Shop and American restaurant Perilla, has gone back to his roots with the Marrow, with a menu that highlights German offerings from his father’s side, “Familie Dieterle,” and Italian dishes from his mother’s side, “Famiglia Chiarelli.”  (more…)

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Runner & Stone

A baker from Per Se and Bouchon Bakery sets up shop in a restaurant-and-bakery in the underserved neighborhood of Gowanus, and the first question the table next to us asks at dinner the other night is: What do you have that’s gluten-free?  (more…)

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Salumeria Rosi Il Ristorante

A culinary heat wave has hit an unexpected New York neighborhood: not Red Hook, not Bushwick, not Bed Stuy, but the long-neglected Upper East Side, aka the “Upper Least.” Despite the bad rap it gets when it comes to dining, the Upper East Side is drawing high profile critics like Steve Cuozzo and Pete Wells, and  there are actually some great restaurant options for anyone determined enough to look for them.  (more…)

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L’Apicio

It’s hard to believe that Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale’s new southern Italian restaurant L’Apicio, on the ground floor of a sleek new luxury condo building, is just two doors down from what was once the ultimate dive, Mars Bar (demolished to make room for another luxury condo). Somewhere the ghosts of Mars Bar drunks are spinning in their graves as the new visitors plunk down $13 for a cocktail, but that hasn’t stopped oodles of New Yorkers from descending on L’Apicio. Pretty attracts pretty, and the lofty ceilings, candlelight and rough hewn wood paneling of this restaurant’s interior have drawn a well-heeled crowd – some of whom may happen to live in the luxury condo above.  (more…)

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Antica Pesa

You know Brooklyn dining has really come into its own when a celeb-friendly restaurant touted in Page Six opens not in Manhattan, but in Williamsburg. Antica Pesa, the new Italian spot on Berry Street, already has a loyal fan base in the Travestere neighborhood in Rome, where the original restaurant has been serving up Roman classics like chitarra alla carbonara for generations. Its American sister restaurant is no brightly-lit family trattoria but a modernist boîte filled with well-heeled scenesters. This is Antica Pesa 2.0.  (more…)

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Colonie

The owners of Colonie, a continental restaurant on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, have been getting a lot of press recently for their most recent openings Gran Electrica and Governor. But before we tried the latest incarnations, D. and I wanted to sample the original, which opened right after D. moved out of the neighborhood and I therefore lost my Brooklyn pied-a-terre. Too bad, because we would have benefitted from this place: Colonie brings a new level of dining sophistication to an area that really needed it. (more…)

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Don Antonio

Don Antonio was the first Italian restaurant I visited in New York after returning from Italy, so I wasn’t expecting much. But it has gotten a lot of buzz from pizza aficionados, and the owners are Italians Roberto Caporuscio of Kesté Pizza & Vino and Antonio Starita of Naples’ renowned Pizza Starita. It’s also located just north of Times Square – perfect for an after-theater dinner in a neighborhood that’s otherwise a culinary wasteland.  (more…)

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Perla

I usually like Gabe Stulman’s restaurants. Fedora and Jeffrey’s Grocery are great neighborhood places with good, inventive food, even though they could have gotten by on the scene alone. At Perla, Stulman has taken over the old Bellavitae space on tiny Minetta Lane in the West Village (the location of many scenes in Serpico), redone it with the requisite Edison bulb light fixtures, exposed brick, wooden bar and antiqued mirrors and installed chef Michael Toscano, formerly of Babbo, in the open kitchen with an open hearth in back.  (more…)

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Rosemary’s

In any other town – even in other parts of New York City – it would be a sad tale of recession-era urban blight: a decades-old family business burns down, leaving a blackened shell of a building that sits empty for years.

But not here. When Village Paper burned down over a year ago and the owners relocated to 8th Street, several restauranteurs started vying for the burned out shell of a building on a prime West Village corner, only to be rejected by Community Board 2. You’d think the community would be thrilled to be rid of a burned out shell of a building, but no.  (more…)

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Il Buco Alimentaria e Vineria

I get a little nervous about going to an Italian restaurant in New York after getting back from Italy. If the meal is bad, will it somehow wipe out the memory of how real Italian food should taste? And just as knockoffs look particularly awful after you’ve seen beautifully-crafted designer goods up close, the comparison to the real thing often doesn’t do a New York restaurant any favors.

Back Dining Room, Il Buco Alimentari

So by the time the check came at the Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria on Great Jones Street, I breathed a sigh of relief. This new restaurant and Italian grocery, the younger sibling of Il Buco on Bond Street, may not be exactly like Italy, but the differences are purely New York.  (more…)

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Gastronomie 491

One of the things I miss most about Milan and Paris is not, as you might expect, fancy restaurants. What I do miss are the numerous coffee counters in Milan when you could just step in and get an excellent-quality espresso or macchiato for a couple of euros and down it in an instant. In Paris, I miss the gourmet take-out shops right near the Saint Paul metro stop: Aux Désirs de Manon for bread and quiche, Au Sanglier for beautiful terrines, and Pascal Trotté for cheese. There was never any reason to cook anything, even though I had a kitchen there, when there was so much tempting food to take home.

Cheese Counter 2, Gastronomie 491

Finally New York is catching up to Europe with the introduction of Gastronomie 491 to the Upper West Side. This little shop has all kinds of salads, meat, fish and sides you might like for a home cooked meal – if you actually felt like cooking. But why bother when chef Steven Gutterman can do it for you, most likely with much better results?

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