food 03.16.04

Hot List

Casa Mono, 52 Irving [17th] 212.253.2773. The intersection of 4Bs — Batali, Bastianich, Barcelona, and brio — produces this winning Spanish taperia. Mario and Joe continue to flout restaurant industry statistics, creating one success after another. Average dish $11.

davidburke & donatella, 133 E. 61st [Park/Lex] 212.813.2121. David Burke (of Park Avenue Cafe fame) is back with his trademark raffishness, mixing offbeat humor with mostly appealing concoctions. We're glad his pastrami salmon is back, and glad he is, too. Entrees average $29.

Geisha, 33 E. 61st [Park/Mad] 212.813.1113, is for those who like a large dollop of tumult along with their sparkling, sensitively rendered pan-Asian seafood (courtesy of chef Michael Vernon). The contact sport to score a table doesn't do Mr. Vernon any favors. Entrees average $26.

Hearth, 403 E. 12th [1st] 646.602.1300. Marco Canora, late of Craft, has brought much the same philosophy to this superb new East Village restaurant; that means, clear, forthright versions of rabbit ballotine, braised lamb shoulder and ribs, and other Italian-inflected dishes. Entrees average $22.

Megu, 62 Thomas [W. Bway/Church] 212.964.7777. In the 13,000-square-foot space that used to be Obeca Li, contemporary Japanese cooking from successful restaurateur Koji Imai, who is making his first foray into the U.S. here. Entrees average $26.

Riingo, 205 E. 45th [3rd] 212.867.4200. We've never been particularly enamored of Marcus Samuelsson's cooking, but for his many fans, Mr. Samuelsson is now at the Alex Hotel. Scandinavian is off, Japanese is on. Entrees average $19.

Spice Market, 403 W. 13th [9th] 212.675.2322. Gray Kunz and Jean-Georges Vongerichten take Asian street food and apply their formidable talents to it. Result: this is easily the restaurant of the moment. Entrees average $21.
Is Murray Hill the new dining hot spot? Mmm, probably not. But there are two newcomers there worth noting:

Wolfgang's Steakhouse, 4 Park [33rd] 212.889.3369, is brought to you by a former staffer of Peter Luger. The steaks are winning raves even from die-hard Lugerans and it's already tough to get a table.

Barbes, 19 E. 36th [Mad] 212.684.0215. This new, smallish French-Moroccan, opened recently virtually undetected by the food press, has nevertheless managed to win over a sizable number of fans already. The mussels, the delightful selection of cold Mediterranean salads, and a pleasing chicken tagine, good as they are, taste even better thanks to some of the most charming service around.

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