In The Magazine

New York, New Eats

by Beth Landman Photographed by Doug Young
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mark Wood left the restaurant business in 2010, his final project a partnership with John McDonald and Matthew Kenny at Canteen on Mercer Street. “I decided to pursue concepts around health and fitness,” he explains of his next ventures as director of development for BluePrint Cleanse and CEO of Liquiteria. Now he’s back, bringing his health expertise to Nisi, a Mediterranean spot in the West Village. Fish, including hard-to-come-by wild branzino (most of what we get is farmed), is flown in daily from the Mediterranean, and chef Nikola Karvelas, an Avra veteran, has added a plant-based menu with such dishes as Vegan Ricotta Beets: fresh red and golden beet salad with arugula, cashews, ricotta cheese and balsamic dressing.

The Mediterranean isn’t the only place fish is being flown in from. The owners of Wokuni, a new restaurant due this month at 325 Lexington Avenue, have their own fish farm in Nagasaki, along with 50 restaurants throughout Japan. They will be serving up their catch as well as sake and shochu accompaniments like marinated firefly squids or grilled ray fin. Signature entrees include tuna tail steak with onion sauce.

We know seats will be hard to come by at the new spot being opened this month by Michelin-starred Toru Okuda, because there are only seven of them at the counter and six others in a private room. Okuda, at 458 West 17th Street, is the first American spot from the chef, who has places in Tokyo and Paris. He will offer two seatings of a kaiseki dinner price fixed at $195 including service.

Foodies who want to cozy up at home when the cooler weather hits take note: Dale Talde, Bill Telepan, Katy Sparks, Silvia Baldini and other top toques have signed on to prepare meals for a new food delivery service called RealEats that will deliver between 3 and 12 meals a week. Dishes include such options as barbecued brisket meatloaf with Brussels sprouts and buttermilk crushed potatoes; whole-grain corkscrew pasta with grass-fed beef meatballs; shiitake chicken with fingerling potatoes and green beans; and salmon with tahini sauce, wild and brown rice, and sautéed spinach.

The birth of Mandolino at 137 East 13th Street is a real New York story. Naples native Agostino Cangiano had only been in the city just over a year and scored cooking jobs at Bella Blu and then Eataly. He met his now-wife, Columbian-born holistic health coach Carolina Bolivar, in the subway, and when he cooked for her on their second date, she told him he had to open his own restaurant. The two contacted real estate broker Cesar Guevara to find a space, and when he tasted Cangiano’s food, he decided to become a partner. Though the sign outside has for months read “Mandolino Pizzeria,” Cangiano and fellow chef, Calabrian-born Resvan Costa, have been whipping up seriously authentic Italian fare like pasta paccheri ai profumi di mare, and mustard-marinated roast chicken with white wine and rosemary. “You won’t find penne a la vodka or chicken parmigiana here,” insists Cangiano, who has changed the sign to read Mandolino Ristorante. Of course they still serve thin-crust pizza, including a white pie with black truffles, and a red version with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sweet sausage, porcini mushrooms, peas and basil.

461 West 23rd Street has been the backdrop for Barchetta and La Promenade, and is now home to Calle Dao, an upscale Cuban-Chinese spot. The two cultures merge on this menu where adventurous palates can explore goat’s neck and pigs ears, and those who don’t regularly tune in to Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown might prefer the brunch offering that combines lamb picadillo with corn congee.

JoJo, at 160 East 64th Street, the second restaurant JeanGeorges Vongerichten opened back in 1991, will no longer be a French bistro. The restaurant closed for renovations last October, and has now reemerged as a more casual farm to table spot.

Mamo, the popular Italian/Provencal hybrid in SoHo has someone new at the helm- Salvatore Marcello, who was previously executive chef at Il Vero in Geneva’s Grand Hotel Kempinski. He is a wizard with herbs, using them to transform simple high-end ingredients, like fish that becomes incredibly moist when he roasts it with olive oil, water, basil, thyme, mint and garlic; or angel hair, which he enlivens with shrimp, pistachios, chilies and Parmesan. “I was drawn to this room; it’s very European,” he says of the brownstone space with exposed brick and oversized windows. 


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