Friday, January 24, 2014

Bits & Morsels

Not new, but noteworthy: Nantucket Bay Scallop Crudo at Rouge Tomate.
by Erin Frankel

The weather outside may be frightful, but the warm is so delightful ... so consider sloshing through the slush left over from the storm and visit one (or more) of the newest and coziest restaurants to open in the new year (included with my food and drink recommendations).

Emmett's. Have a glass of Lambrusco with a deep-dish pizza at Emmett's. Ever try a sparkling red wine? Lambrusco, wildly popular in the 1970s and '80s, has made a comeback at Emmett's, Soho's latest most popular little spot, specializing in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Pair the dry, bubbly red with the restaurant's signature deep-dish pizza, preferably topped with spicy pepperoni and mushrooms. The crust is very thick (it's Chicago Style after all), but perfectly crunchy. The preparation takes some time, but rest assured Chicago-born brothers Emmett and Dylan will be behind the bar keeping your glass full as you wait for your pizza. And believe me, it's worth the wait.

Emmett's
50 MacDougal St.
917-639-3571
Emmett's deep-dish pizza with spicy pepperoni and mushrooms.
Commerce. Sadly, Christmas is over but that doesn't mean you have to abandon the celebratory holiday flavors in the New Year. Favorite West Village neighborhood staple, Commerce, nestled on arguably the most adorable street in NYC, has concocted a new dessert for the holiday season — the "peppermint stick ice cream" — a delectably creamy mint ice cream made with real Christmas peppermint sticks. By far the best way to finish off your meal at Commerce.

Commerce

50 Commerce St.
212-524-2301
The peppermint stick ice cream at Commerce.
Book the secret dining room at Cucina Ciano. Stratis Morfogen, owner of Philippe Chow and nightlife philanthropist, Unik Ernest, have teamed up to create both a new Upper East Side neighborhood staple (think the perfect mix of familiarity and swank). Former Vogue Accessories Editor, designer Filipa Fino, fuses traditional, rustic details with elegant modern custom design while executive chef Tin Huynh concocts inventive seasonal farm to fork fare.

Imported Burrata Cheese w/ “Panzanella” Arugula Salad and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Seasonal winter specials include starters like a fresh Panzanella salad with fresh burrata cheese from Italy and the balsamic glazed octopus with artichoke roasted bell pepper frisee salad. There are a number of hearty house-made pasta dishes perfect for a cold day like the fresh pappardelle with pork ragout and caramelized onions and marcilla, and the Mancini spaghetti with meatballs in a spicy arrabbiata sauce.

Desserts, like the traditional Tiramisu and Chocolate Torte, a Torta Casprese (flourless chocolate almond cake topped with whipped cream and spiced dolcetta) are delicately rich in flavor, a make for perfect finish to a well-rounded meal. However, the real allure here is the private (secret) room downstairs. Walk through the kitchen to a backdoor where you will enter an elegantly decorated subterranean space lined with satin and velvet, featuring works by upcoming young artists. The room accommodates up to 18 seated guests and features a designated server, full sound system and 50" flat screen TV, all within the well-stocked wine room. Perfect place to snag for the Super Bowl if you act fast ...

Cucina Ciano
181 East 78th Street
646.422.7550
Clockwise from top left: Crostino w/Spicy Burrata; Balsamic Glazed Octopus w/Artichoke, Roasted Red Pepper and Frisée Salad; "Mancini" Spaghetti Arrabbiata Sauce w/Meatballs; Rainbow Beet Salad w/Robiola Cheese, Pistachio and Watercress.
Try the "Triple Luck" sochu cocktail combo at Redfarm's new cocktail bar, Decoy. Owners Ed Schoenfelt and Joe Ng have turned the space below the original Red Farm location into Decoy, a Peking Duck and cocktail-focused spin off of Red Farm.

The "Triple Luck" sochu cocktail combo.
Decoy serves as an extension of the upstairs dining room until 9:30 p.m. at which point it turns into one of the West Village's hottest cocktails bars. Here you can order a number of bespoke cocktails and Red Farm specialty snacks like the shrimp-stuffed jalapeno poppers or the crowd-favorite "Double Duck", a bun filled with grilled and roasted duck. But the real pull here is the memorable "Triple Luck."

For a whopping $42, Decoy's skilled mixologists will whip up a smoke show (quite literally) as they prepare a round of three specialty sochu cocktails, one with sochu, grey goose l'orange, guava puree, lime, and Cherry Heering; another with sochu, starr rum, pineapple, lime, rhubarb, and cinnamon; and one with sochu, bulldog gin, jasmine peach tea, agave, and yuzu. The show is definitely worth it; the hangover, maybe not so much.

Decoy
529 Hudson Street
212-792-9700
Michael White is brilliantly trailblazing his way through the NYC culinary scene. Once he broke ties with chef Chris Canon, he successfully opened Ai Fiori, Marea, Osteria Morini, and now Ristorante Morini on the Upper East Side. You'll find delicate, sophisticated dishes like the MARE NOSTRUM, a sauté of scallops, shrimp, calamari and octopus, and sea beans in a light lemon-culatura dressing. For an earthier start to the meal, the wild mushroom soup with baby spinach, and black truffle gnudi. Then move onto an invigorating pasta like the paccheri filled with caccio e pepe and a salsa all'amatriciana sauce or the fennel crusted tuna with macco purée and shaved fennel in a salsa palermitana.

Ristorante Morini
1167 Madison Ave
212-249-0444
Clockwise from top left: Sauteed Spinach; the MARE NOSTRUM, a sauté of scallops, shrimp, calamari and octopus, and sea beans in a light lemon-culatura dressing; fennel crusted tuna with macco purée, and shaved fennel in a salsa palermitana; caccio e pepe and a salsa all'amatriciana sauce; spaghetti with mussels, clams, shrimp, sugo alla pescatore; wild mushroom soup with baby spinach, and black truffle gnudi.
Soak up the passionate potions in the city's newest and largest Middle Eastern restaurant and Hookah Bar, Pergola. The 3,700 square-foot restaurant's extensive glass exterior and accented green plants pays homage to the space's former operation as a flower shop. The huge bi-level space is perfect for a private party, a boisterous group dinner, or a sultry date. Savor any one of Ecuadorian chef Nester Moina's locally-sourced, organic Mediterranean-inspired dishes with influences from Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Morocco. Two winners are the juicy Lamb Burger topped with heirloom tomato, crumbled feta, and arugula dressed with a spicy aioli sauce and the macaroni béchamel, a hearty penne in a lamb ragu sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, parsley, and Parmesan.

Pergola
36 West 28th Street
212-679-4842
Fattoush Salad and the Lamb Burger topped with heirloom tomato, crumbled feta, and arugula dressed with a spicy aioli sauce.
If you're on a mushroom kick, take a visit uptown to the still stylish and elegant establishment for the sophisticated (and health-conscious) eater, Rouge Tomate. The rather expensive Upper East Side Michelin-starred restaurant may not be new to the restaurant scene but continues to wow with new, fresh ingredients and dishes each season. Executive chef Jeremy Bearman's seasonal, sustainable dishes are validation indeed that we can be satiated while still eating a balanced, healthy meal.
Toast topped with wild mushroom, charred leek, ricotta, and thyme.
The menu, which changes seasonally, now includes many a mushroom, which have a very satisfying meaty texture, but with only a fraction of the calories of fat and beef. Start with the seasonal toast topped with wild mushroom, charred leek, ricotta, and thyme. I highly recommended the Hawaiian Walu flavored with avocado, yuzu, soy, jicama, and jalapeno in a lemongrass ginger-oil.

Two other good choices are the mushroom tartare topped with a sunny-side up farm egg, garlic confit, and pickled mushrooms and the fresh local beet and lobster salad with creamy burrata, hazelnut crumble, and mache dressed in a buttermilk poppy-seed vinaigrette.
Local beet and lobster salad with creamy burrata, hazelnut crumble, and mache dressed in a buttermilk poppy-seed vinaigrette.
As for the entrées, savor the creamy Romanesco cauliflower and hazelnut risotto topped with with black truffles along with the succulent Millbrook venison on top of a red cabbage sauerkraut and oxtail Alsatian dumplings, dressed in a rutabaga-apple puree and a lingonberry jus. For something on the lighter side, the black bass a la plancha complemented with locally sourced carrots, radish, watercress, and hazelnut in a Cara Cara orange sauce is excellent. Sweeten up your meal with two of Rouge Tomate's award winning desserts: the key lime cheesecake with a layer of Chartreuse, a layer of coconut pudding, and a layer of fresh pineapple; and the irresistible Red Velvet cake with house-made cream cheese, fresh beets, blood orange, and rich chocolate.

Rouge Tomate
10 E. 60th St.
646-237-8977
Hawaiian Walu with with avocado, yuzu, soy, jicama, and jalapeno in a lemongrass ginger-oil.
Romanesco cauliflower and hazelnut risotto topped with with black truffles.
Millbrook venison on top of a red cabbage sauerkraut and oxtail Alsatian dumplings, dressed in a rutabaga-apple puree and a lingonberry jus.
Black bass a la plancha with locally sourced carrots, radish, watercress, and hazelnut in a Cara Cara Orange sauce.
Red Velvet cake with house-made cream cheese, fresh beets, and blood orange.
Acclaimed Chef Marc Murphy from Landmarc and Ditch Plains has partnered with Scott Gerber, CEO of the well-established Gerber Group, to open Kingside, arguably the most popular restaurant in NYC RIGHT NOW. The decor is contemporary and chic, the crowd is dapper, and the menu takes a sophisticated approach to familiar American classics.

Its cavernous space, designed by Roman + Williams, resembles a time-honored American diner, but stepped up a notch or two. There is a checkerboard floor and tiled walls, long, cozy banquettes and red leather stools at the counter of the large open kitchen. The menu is also approachable with a classy touch. Murphy skillfully prepares French-influenced American bistro fare, dispatching delicate, refined flavors.
Chef's counter at Kingside.
Favorites on the menu include the grilled kale with goat cheese, olives, almonds, and a lemon vinaigrette; the hay-aged Pecorino toast topped with creamy ricotta and sweet truffle honey; the Everything Cure Salmon with creme fraiche and dill slaw; the bone marrow topped with roasted snails & garlic butter; the roasted scallops with guanciale, heirloom beans; and the white wine-poached sea bass flavored with olive and sage accompanied by marbled potatoes and tomatoes. And, like every great restaurant these days, Kingside serves entrees for two, raw bar items, charcuterie, and cheese plates.

Kingside
Viceroy Hotel New York
124 W 57th St.
212-707-8000
The bread basket.
Hay-aged pecorino toast.
Grilled kale with goat cheese, olives, almonds, and a lemon vinaigrette.
Bone marrow topped with roasted snails & garlic butter.
Mac & cheese.
White wine-poached sea bass flavored with olive and sage.