Food For Thought

What’s Old is New Again

by Beth Landman Photographed by Cary Horowitz
Saturday, October 7, 2017

October is peak time on New York’s culinary scene. Diners are back from extended summer vacations and haven’t yet fled the frost for warmer climates. Restauranteurs seize on the month to premiere spaces, chefs and menus.

This season, some of the names will be familiar—resurrected favorites and siblings of existing restaurants we love. We’ve already given you the skinny on the rebirths of La Goulue and Bond 45, but there are more.

Many of us who mourned mogul hangout Coco Pazzo when it closed on East 74th Street in 2008 will have a chance to taste its Tuscan wonders again. Legendary restaurateur Pino Luongo will head south for a smaller, more casual version called Coco Pazzo Trattoria, to open this month on the site of the old hangout bar Milady’s, at 160 Prince Street. “Coco Pazzo was one of the places closest to my heart, but the rent tripled, and I have always wanted to bring it back,” says Luongo. Marta Pulini, his former chef at Le Madri, will helm the new place, which will also have a café where you can sit down or get takeout.

Joël Robuchon, the famed toque who closed his Atelier at the Four Seasons hotel in 2012, will return this month with a new, larger incarnation in the former Colicchio and Sons space at 85 Tenth Avenue, across from Chelsea Market, called Atelier de Joël Robuchon. “Mr. Robuchon specifically asked us to find something that was not in a hotel: this location is artistic and surrounded with a lot of activity, reminiscent of the Left Bank in Paris,” says Alex Gaudelet, CEO of Invest Hospitality, Robuchon’s partner in the United States. The menu too has evolved: while the counter will still serve favorites like steak tartare, caviar and langoustines, Robuchon is focusing more on healthier, plant-based dishes. “We are working hard to source as many local ingredients as possible,” says Gaudelet.

Shea Gallante, who earned three stars at Ciano before becoming chef at the short-lived Baccarat restaurant, is back at the stove. He quietly took the reins at Lincoln over the summer, overhauled the kitchen and introduced pre-theater and chef’s tasting menus. Among his new offerings: pappardelle with housemade lamb bacon, cannellini beans, Calabrian chili and tomato sugo; and wild sea bass with

Vernaccia wine, confit fennel, Meyer lemon, Taggiasca olives and roasted tomato emulsion.

Nomad favorite La Pecora Bianca is opening a new location at 950 Second Avenue in October, with Cruz Goler, formerly chef de cuisine at Lupa and Narcissa, overseeing the kitchen. “This is a more grown-up version of the concept: it’s bigger, sexier and more sophisticated,” says owner Mark Barak. “The DNA has evolved; it’s still accessible, seasonal Italian, but there are things we can do that we couldn’t in the smaller space.” In addition to an expanded menu, the new space will feature 1950s Italian tile rather than reclaimed terra cotta, along with a larger wine bar and a standing coffee bar. Richard Lewis, the architect who designed Balthazar, is responsible for the look. “This is our Italian version of a brasserie, with booths, banquettes and a buzzy scene,” says Barak.

It’s been nearly ten years since we’ve had a new spot from Anastasi Hairatidis, the man behind the spirited ’90s haunt Casa La Femme, where people smashed plates and danced on tables, but last month he opened a 50-seat tapas lounge called Casita with Barcelona-born chef Mikel de Luis. Things are bound to be tamer this time, as Hairatidis is offering breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, along with market items. “We are here to cater to the West Village,” he says. “We have 25 Spanish cheeses and really upscale versions of canned products from Spain, including tuna, mussels, octopus and clams, and we will be preparing paella, so if you don’t want to come out, we can have it to your home in 20 minutes.”

Milos, the restaurant that started New York’s Greek juggernaut, is celebrating its 20-year mark in New York by expanding, opening a downstairs lounge designed with Greek marble flooring and a sweeping staircase, as well as a neighboring market called Markato. “At a time when so many people are having trouble opening restaurants, we are lucky to have a landlord who was fair to us,” says owner Costas Spiliadis. “We are excited about featuring crudo preparations of the freshest Mediterranean fish in the lounge’s new raw bar, expanded private dining offerings, and access to products of the highest quality next door at Markato.”

Carlos Suarez is also celebrating his restaurant’s birthday with an update. “Bobo turned 10 in September, and that had me reflecting on how much the restaurant scene has changed,’’ he reports. “A couple of years ago I started a farm in the Hudson Valley, and I am trying to share my personal passion, which has shifted as I’m getting a little older and appreciating the countryside. Bobo was beautiful, but the design style was of the time.” Racines chef Frédéric Duca has created a rustic menu, and the brownstone space will now evoke a vacation home, with the first floor reminiscent of a kitchen and the upstairs softer and lighter, with lots of natural wood. “We will conceptually transport you to a French country house,” says Suarez. 

Glad it’s only conceptual, because as we said, this is no time to leave New York. 


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Food For Thought