Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Roasted Arctic char, Haloumi cheese dust, lentils and black truffles at Anthos.

Last Thursday
evening I went Espace for the Food & Wine magazine party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Best New Chefs." The party also honored this year's best.

Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, Todd English, Tom Colicchio, Terrance Brennan, Rocco DiSpirito, Wylie Dufresne, Dan Barber, Fabio Trabocchi, Gavin Kaysen, Hung Huyn, Harold Dieterle, Drew Nieporent, and Marcel Vigneron were all in attendance as well as many other chefs and foodies.
Assorted Meze at Anthos.
Congratulations to Chef Michael Psilakis of Anthos, Kefi, and Mia Dona for being named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs. I too am a fan of Michael Psilakis. His cooking is very forward thinking while still staying true to the original cuisine. I recently dined at Anthos and enjoyed the unique combination of Arctic char with Haloumi cheese dust and lentils. [Anthos]
At Anthos (clockwise from top left): Garlic Soup; Cow's milk butter and Goat's milk butter; Greek Salad; Smoked Octopus.
Mia Dona is Michael's new restaurant located at 58th between 2nd and 3rd. The food is rustic Italian and the prices are reasonable.

Bread basket with hot roasted garlic at Mia Dona.
Mia Dona is full of nice touches like the warm head of garlic tucked right into the bread basket. The service is also undeniably accommodating. My dining partner was allergic to a few ingredients on the menu so they made her a simple yet elegant pasta dish with garlic and smoked mozzarella.

While it is only 6 weeks old I can tell already it’s going to become a neighborhood destination. [Mia Dona]

Be careful what you drink. Bottled water has been banned at numerous restaurants including Gemma and Del Posto. Why you ask: The bottled water industry causes a severe strain on the environment. Expect restaurants to start serving tap water only and to make their own sparkling water. [The New York Post]

This interesting Arcticle
was on the front page of the New York Times. In Italy, some of the best cooking is being done by new immigrants. With italians leaving the industry and shirking the responsibilty of basic kitchen tasks, the window is opening for immigrants to leave their mark. The question is how will these new chefs impact Italian cuisine and what influence will they have on Italian culture. [New York Times]
Spaghetti with smoked mozzarella and garlic and a mouthwatering Cannoli at Mia Dona.
Bruno Dussin is the maitre d’ at Osteria Del Circo. Bruno stands out from the rest. He is patient with his guests and no request is ever a problem.

How long has Circo been here?

12 years last January.

How is it different from Le Cirque?

Number one … there is the name. This is Circo, which is the Italian version of a circus. Le Cirque is the French version of a circus. This is an casual Italian restaurant. Le Cirque is more upscale.

Bruno Dussin, maitre d’ at Osteria del Circo.
How did you get started in the restaurant industry?

It started when I was 14 years old in Italy with Cipriani at Hotel Villa Cipriani, which is in Asolo. I started with the senior Cipriani, the original. He taught me how to work. He was a very elegant and gentle man. I told him it was my first job and he liked that. He could teach me from the beginning.

How long have you been at Circo?

Now it’s six years, going on seven.

Did you work at any Maccioni restaurants?

Yes well I started with Cipriani and I went to Venice to Harry’s Bar and to the Danieli Hotel. After that I worked around Italy, England and on an Italian cruise line. Then in 1974 I stopped in New York when the first Le Cirque opened. I was there for thirteen years. I started there as a captain and I became a Maitre’ D after a while. For Family reasons I had to go back to Italy, so I went back to Cipriani. I stayed there for a while and then I came back to New York. I worked at the Rainbow Room and at Bellini by Cipriani. I opened San Domenico on Central Park South; I stayed there for two years. In 2000 Mr. Maccioni approached me and asked if I would join them again and that's how I came to Circo.

You are always so calm and cool and everything is “No problem.” Does anything get you angry?

Yes, only one thing. When I am not able to please a guest and they are not happy.

I bet that never happens.

I wish it never happened but sometimes it does and I try to take care of it.
Osteria Del Circo, 120 West 55th. 212.265.3636.
The economy is in a downturn right now. Do you have any specials?

Not at the moment. We don’t feel that the economy is down for us at the moment. We have a $25.00 three-course prixe fixe lunch. We also offer pre and post theater dinners for $35.00.

How many Dover Soles do you sell here?

We serve quite a few. An average of about 12- 20 Dover Soles a day.

The bar at Osteria Del Circo before the evening rush.
What’s your busiest time of the year?

Holiday time, October, November and December

Do you have any favorite customers?

Yes, the regulars who come and never leave us. There is a long list. I like to call them faithful and wonderful guests.

Do you have a favorite dish on the menu?

Yes. The homemade ravioli with ricotta cheese and spinach in butter and sage. We also have an Italian version of bouillabaisse, which is a seafood stew with shrimp and other fish. It’s called Cacciucco.

How did the theme of the circus come about?

When they opened the first restaurant, Sirio Maccioni and his partner who was a French chef, came up with that name Le Cirque. As in getting together to see a show in the dining room. That is a combination of the name and the thought of what they wanted to accomplish in their restaurant. [Circo]

Till we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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