|Having worked for Pino Luongo, Lidia Bastianich, and David Bouley, and after a stint at Cru, Shea Gallante makes a welcome return to the kitchen at the just-opened Italian eatery Ciano, 45 E. 22nd [Bway/Park Ave. S.] 212.982.8422, former home to Beppe. It's more back-to-basics than Cru, but expect to eat very well.
The Lambs Club, 132 W. 44th [Bway/6th] 212.997.5262, is currently the gorgeous answer to the perennial question of where to eat before or after theater. It's one of Geoffrey Zakarian's spanking-new places (see The National below), but the room is all nods to the past: starry Lambs Club members pictures line the walls, Stanford White, who designed the original club, gave the Lambs a huge, 18th-century fireplace and it gets a central spot in the dining room. If Norma Shearer were still with us, and she was starring in a revival of The Women on Broadway, this is where she'd eat.
One-time exception to the 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' rule: Lotus of Siam, 24 5th [9th] 212.529.1700, a NYC outpost of Vegas' Thai restaurant, distinguished by the cooking of Saipin Chutima and her take on the foods of the northeastern part of that country.
We love the apocryphal history of The Hurricane Club, 360 Park Ave. S. [26th] 212.951.7111, and in terms of style, AvroKO meets tiki is as good as an elevator pitch gets. The food not as much, but for a Polynesian premises purveying Pu Pu platters, pure pleasure.
Niko, 170 Mercer [Houston/Prince], the Japanese restaurant due soon in Soho's late, lamented Honmura An space, is brought to you by Cobi Levy, one of the perpetrators of the defunct Charles restaurant in the West Village. Mr. Levy, just another in a long string of minor, uninteresting NYC irritations, is likely to have himself a hit with Niko, but there's nothing that could get us to darken that doorway, his newfound populism notwithstanding.
Another Zakarian restaurant has just opened: The National, 557 Lex [50th] 212.715.2400, looks like a classic European grand cafe — major value added to this neighborhood.
Has Lincoln Center ever looked and felt as good as it does among the warm, modernist gleam of the Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed Lincoln, 142 W. 65th [Bway/Amst] 212.359.6500? Jonathan Benno's menu of Italian dishes, composed of impeccable ingredients, get nuanced handling, running the gamut of chamber music-scaled pleasures all the way up to the big notes of grand opera.
We're not sure what would have been a predictable next move from the guys behind Freemans, but Peels, 325 Bowery [2nd] 646.602.7015, isn't it. The inside's a little twee, the food dips into Southern cooking, the vibe is… not quite comfortable in its skin.
Michael White and Chris Cannon (Alto, Convivio, and Marea) have opened the rustic (as rustic as Soho gets) Osteria Morini, 218 Laf [Spring/Broome] 212.965.8777, where you can get delicious examples of Emilia-Romagna cooking.
Today on Wish You Were Here:
Kopp's Frozen Custard