Where to Eat 2006

Where to Eat 2006

Photo: Del Posto

Type of Place: Restaurants

This past year in food has been quite good to us, with the opening of elegant temples like Perry Street, honest-to-goodness favorites like Cookshop, and hole-in-the-wall taco brilliance at La Esquina. But 2006 is not playing around. Already, the New Year promises dining to die for.

First on the list would be Del Posto (85 10th Avenue, at 16th Street, 212-497-8090), perhaps best described as the restaurant equivalent of King Kong. Occupying a mammoth 24,000 square feet, and pulling in wildly popular advance reviews, it is the long awaited (and much hyped) project of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich (with whom he owns Babbo, Lupa, Casa Mono, Otto, and Bar Jamon), and Lidia Bastianich, the matriarch of the Bastianich clan and the woman behind Felidia.

Modeled after a grand European hotel by architect/designer Glen Coben, Del Posto is cloaked in waves of marble and filled with plush banquettes covered in warm autumnal tones. But the space pales in comparison to the food, under the expert care of chef Marc Ladner, the longtime executive chef of Lupa. He offers a slew of old-world tableside preparations like a $240 rack of veal with chestnuts, shiitakes and truffles, and a $220 salt-baked arctic char with cauliflower ragu. Monetary mortals can stick gentler priced pastas like ricotta and chard nudi with pumpkin seeds ($21), spaghetti with crab and jalapeño ($27), and entrees like squab with wild arugula ($30), and orata with puntarelle and sweet potatoes ($27). While the official opening date is still under lock and key, the restaurant is quietly taking reservations and seating walk-ins.

While Del Posto does Italian on a grand and flashy Hollywood scale, A Voce (opening Mid January, 41 Madison Avenue, at 26th Street, 212-545-8555) is more of an intimate foreign movie.

Italian for “by word of mouth,” A Voce is a sleek and sexy Italian restaurant owned by the MARC restaurant corporation, a group best known for its London hot spots (Morton’s Umu) and its Greenwich restaurant, Gaia. For their New York City debut, they’ve tapped a serious talent—chef Andrew Carmellini, the James Beard Foundation’s 2005 pick for Best Chef New York City, and the former chef de cuisine of Café Boulud.

Carmellini’s feed-me-now menu includes starters like piadina with truffled fontina, sweet onions, and arugula, chestnut ravioli with sausage, piave cheese and red wine glaze, and glazed duck agro dolce, with potato alla montagna, local chard, and organic figs.

Come spring, the restaurant will unveil an 100-seat Italian styled piazza as terrace, filled with herbs, flowers and trees, perfect for an al fresco bite and a glass (or ten) of wine. (The list contains 600 bottles, half of which are priced under $75.)

Classic American cuisine is the hook at Restaurant Sascha (Opening January 25th, 55 Gansevoort Street, 212-989-1920). The debut of longtime Pastis chef Sascha Lyon, Restaurant Sascha is set in a magnificent landmark building originally constructed in 1887 as the New England Biscuit Company. The ground floor saloon is rustic and salty, with barn door flooring, tin ceilings, marble tables, exposed cast iron columns, brick walls and a 130-year old bar, while the elegant parlor-styled dining room, located up a grand staircase, is furnished with old world sofas of button tufted leather, and lit with glittering chandeliers.

Tailoring his menu to each space, Lyon will offer two menus: An all-day bar menu downstairs that will include a smoked fish platter with deviled eggs and potato salad, a raw bar, platters of charcuterie, and entrees ranging form eggs and pancakes to strip steak and chicken pot pie, and a classic American menu of caviar, whole roasted Dover sole, dry-aged Prime rib, rack of lamb and chateaubriand for two, both served tableside in the upstairs dining room.

Spain is still in the mix in 2006. Joining cult favorites like Casa Mono and Tia Pol and the populist newcomer from Steve Hanson, Barça 18 is Ureña (opening mid-January, 37 East 28th Street, b/w Park and Madison Aves., 212-213-2328), a modern Spanish affair from chef Alex Ureña, who spent seven years cooking with David Bouley and most recently was the consulting chef at Suba. Ureña will showcase sophisticated Spanish fare, in the style of his mentor El Bulli’s famed avant-garde chef, Ferran Adria. Expect contemporary tapas like olive oil cured tuna over pan con tomat, stewed chorizo with poached quince, and salt cod mousse with dried cranberries, and toasted country bread, and innovative entrees like seared toro belly with bean sprouts, soy sauce caramel, and mint oil, and salt-crusted duck breast with pickled figs, and brussel sprout puree.

Bringing more than great food to the table is Colors Restaurant (opening Early January, 417 Lafayette Street, between Astor Place and East 4th Street, 212-777-8443), a worker-owned cooperative restaurant created by reunited former employees of Windows on the World in the wake of 9/11. (Yes, this means everyone from the dishwasher to your waiter has an equity stake in the restaurant.)

In addition to empowering its workers with ownership, Colors embraces the global diversity of the Windows on the World staff with a cross-cultural menu by executive Chef Raymond Mohan (Chicama, Park Avenue Café, Plantain) that includes dishes that were inspired by staff members’ family recipes. To start, there are Philippine lobster lumpia—spring rolls filled with lobster and minted sweet potatoes in tamarind dipping sauce, Pam Thai—chicken with long beans, fried onions, and green papaya with a chile-lime dressing, and Lambi salad—a Haitian-style stewed conch with radish, arugula, and crispy conch fritter salad with saffron mayonnaise. Entrees range from grass-fed New York ribeye with chimichurri, potato confit and blue cheese, to White Marble Farm Pork, slow-roasted and honey-glazed over Columbian “bandeja paisa” rice and beans with arugula and plantains.

Come April we’ll have one restaurant Las Vegas got before we did: Craftsteak (85 10th Avenue, no phone yet). Designed by Colicchio’s longtime collaborator Peter Bentel (Craft, Gramercy Tavern), this minimalist temple of seasonal ingredients sourced and aritsanal producers features a have-it-your-way menu of meat, fish, and vegetables, everything from roasted grass-fed ribeye, to braised lamb shanks, and roasted Ivory King salmon. The menu is fantastic, but it’s not for the indecisive.

  - Andrea Strong; Dec 27, 2005

Where to Eat 2006
New York, NY