Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bits & Morsels

PEI mussels at Bobby Van's Bridgehampton.

by Erin Frankel

While the Upper East Side’s Brio has always been a favorite post-Bloomingdale’s lunch destination, the Italian eatery's newer location down in Flatiron has opened its doors with sexy date nights and refined dinners for young, hip foodies in mind. Perched in a lofty space on the corner of 21st and Broadway, Brio Downtown is a wide open, modern, and inviting space. Floor to ceiling windows adorn both sides of the restaurant while sparse, sleek furniture dots the the interior. You’ll likely enjoy your dinner in one of the leather banquettes that line one wall of the room or in a high, plush leather chair near a window.

The menu at Brio downtown location is similar to it’s Upper East Side successor but Damien Scoditti, the restaurant’s vibrant owner has taken the reins from his father and has given the menu a bit of a contemporary and sophisticated scrubbing. Here, you’ll find the same excellent list of vino with dozens by the glass and even more by the bottle.
Clockwise from top left: Pan fried baby artichokes; Black linguine with bell peppers and shrimp; Seared Portuguese octopus; Fettuccini bolognese; Buffalo mozzarella and tomato.
The menu contains a wide selection of light modern Italian food, and the focus seems to be on seafood during these summer months. Expect a bevy of fresh, Mediterranean-inspired appetizers like the seared Portuguese octopus with cannellini beans and tomato concasse sprinkled with a basil olive oil, a lighter buffalo mozzarella with sliced Florida tomatoes and basil, or pan-fried baby artichokes topped with roasted garlic and olive oil.

If your appetite veers to the hearty side, the pastas and larger plates are inspiring here as well. The delicate black ink linguine with bell peppers and shrimp in a light hearty tomato sauce and the homemade fettuccini topped with a rich meat sauce were two of our favorites. Prices and tastes remain approachable, which is a good thing for the bright young things who will surely stop by.

Brio Downtown
920 Broadway

Gelato. Tiramisu.
Where else I ate this week:

Dream Hotel

The new Dream Hotel is by far this summer's sexiest and coolest (dare I say it) addition to the city's hotel and nightlife scene. If you crave a post-work beach fix, hit the Dream Hotel instead. Head to the back of the lobby and walk up the narrow staircase to the pool deck and bar area -- definitely the place to be following a long day at the office.

The Dream Hotel at 210 W 55th Street (at Broadway).
Vikram Chatwal’s latest venture is not only surreal in its own right, but is always packed with celebs and scenesters chilling on the manmade beach or mingling by the pool with a colorful cocktail in hand. On a recent summer evening, I stopped by for a DKNY sunglass soiree by the pool where I indulged in some vegetable tacos, yellowfin tuna tartare in a sesame cone, and a glass or two of sweet peach sangria.

Bobby Van's Bridgehampton

A classic place to MEAT and greet in the Hamptons is Bobby Vans, the original location of the now New York City restaurant chain, founded by piano player Bobby Van in 1969. The Bridgehampton version, in my opinion, is a lot better than its NYC successors.

It may very well be the best steakhouse on the eastern end of Long Island, but it also offers a variety of delicious salads and fresh seafood with a Mediterranean and Asian flair. Try the PEI Mussels in a garlic and red wine sauce or the classic Caesar salad to start. As for the entrees, I recommend two of the restaurant’s classic grilled fish dishes: both the grilled salmon with roast corn, avocado, and tomato relish, accompanied by grilled haricot vert or the lighter but flavorful Tamarind Chilean Seabass with Chinese cabbage, asparagus and shitake mushrooms in a white truffle sauce.
Clockwise from top left: Throngs of men -- a regular affair at Bobby Van's Bridgehampton; Caesar salad; Grilled salmon; A bottle of Rose (yes, I'm still stuck on Spain).
Delicious food aside, everyone knows the real reason to come to Bobby Vans is for its scene. If you walk or drive through Bridgehampton town on Montauk highway, you are sure to find people — young and old, pretty and not-so-pretty — sitting, standing, and practically dancing around the lively bar (and sidewalk, too).

Bobby Van's Bridgehampton

Montauk Hwy, New York
Tamarind Chilean seabass at Bobby Van's.
Photographs by Erin Frankel.
Follow NYSD Dining on Twitter.