food 04.29.08

Hot List

Alain Ducasse has brought the venerable Benoit, 60 W. 55th [5th/6th] 646.943.7373, (the bistro opened in Paris nearly 100 years ago) to New York, installing it in what was the La Côte Basque space. And so: zinc, oak, and sconces are the background to pike quenelles with Nantua sauce (welcome back!) and L'ami Louis-style chicken (which, to borrow a phrase, offers the chicken a chance to leap toward immortality).

From the comfort food of France to stateside, finger-lickin' fare, Wildwood Barbecue, 225 Park Ave. S. [18th] 212.533.2500, is currently smoking, thanks to "Big Lou" Elrose's cross-regional 'cue of hormone-free meats. David Rockwell channels his inner roadhouse.

If Anita Lo is working her way through the alphabet Sue Grafton-style, that's fine by us. Joining Annisa is Bar Q, 308 Bleecker [7th Ave. S./Grove] 212.206.7817, where tea-smoked duck takes its place beside sashimi, spare ribs, and grilled loin of Australian lamb with garlic fried milk (sic).

Momofuku Ko, 163 1st [10th/11th]. Yes, every dispatch on New York restaurants is required by law to include the latest David Chang restaurant. Thread the reservation needle to sit at the counter and eat this amazingly good food.

Casellula, 401 W. 52nd [9th/10th] 212.247.8137, isn't new, and they don't really need anyone else crowding the entryway for a table (no reservations). Still, we love this wine bar: fab wines, perfect cheeses, and delicious small plates, carefully prepared without benefit of a kitchen.

Blessed with cooking skills of Olympian proportions, Michael Psilakis, with partner Donatella Arpaia, has another showcase: Mia Dona, 206 E. 58th [2nd/3rd] 212.750.8170. Here, Italy shares the Mediterranean offerings with Greece and if there are the occasional choppy seas, with a little more time, the duo is likely to deliver on the place's promise.

We've written before of our fondness for the brothers Denton, who have now opened Bar Milano, 323 3rd [24th] 212.683.3035, serving up an arsenal of antipasti, pastas, and chops, plus some serious cocktails.

Elettaria, 33 W. 8th [MacDougal] 212.677.3833, is owned by chef Akhtar Nawab and Noel Cruz, dedicated to a "seasonal, spice-driven American menu," which makes sense, as Nawab is from India and Cruz is from the Philippines. Elettaria is the Latin word for (green) cardamom; it shows up in a duck dish with the herb, along with nettles and keema (spicy minced meat).


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