food 02.20.13

Restaurant Hot List

THE MORNING LINE "I can't wait to get back to New York city
Where at least when I walk down the street
No one ever hesitates
To tell me exactly what they think of me"
—Ani DiFranco

Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale, the duo behind dell'anima, L'Artusi, and Anfora, go big with L'Apicio, 13 E. 1st St. [Bowery/2nd Ave.] 212.533.7400, mining Italian as skillfully as always and giving polenta pride of place along with pasta. Salt, however, can sometimes be insistent. Pastas average $17, entrees average $26. The wine list is a good one for choice; the prices, though, are unforgiving. If you're thirsty, show up when you've closed a deal. [Photo: Michael Morales]

Aska, 90 Wythe [N. 11th] Williamsburg 718.388.2969 is Scandinavian, of a kind, fjorded to highly idiosyncratic event dining. Pete Wells was kinder than we would be about the restaurant's website, where there's nothing so prosaic as, you know, food to be found on it. Instead, many photos of snow and birch trees, also birch trees and snow. Still, adventurous, unpredictable, memorable cooking by Fredrik Berselius within the bricks and mortar.

Counter restaurants, where your attention is directed, demanded, kitchenward, call to mind Friendly's of yore, from which a hot Big Beef and a frosty Fribble were modest satisfactions befitting your counter seat. Sometimes, when we go out to eat, we like to face our companion, but that's just us. Roberta's is the latest to go all counter on you (see Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare and Momofuku Ko) with its Blanca, 261 Moore St. [White/Bogart] Bushwick 646.703.2715, offshoot. The tab is $180, plus tax and tip, for New American cooking by Carlo Mirachi.

Oh, sure, Wisconsin. So nice. So Midwest nice. We say: watch your back! Gabriel Stulman's stealthy annexation of New York, benignly dubbed Little Wisco, continues apace with Chez Sardine, 183 W. 10th [7th Ave./W. 4th] 646.360.3705, where entrees average $20. The arsenal includes fish bivouacked with everything from chicharrón to quail egg. Yes, fine, it's delicious. But the next moves really needs to be a Carnegie Deli in Eau Claire.

We'd head back any time to Hooni Kim's Danji, at the northern edge of the theater district, especially for those bulgogi beef sliders. Kim's opened a new place—Hanjan, 36 W. 26th [Bway/6th] 212.206.7226—serving Korean street food refracted by 26th Street. As at Danji, the menu is split—traditional on one hand, modern on the other. There's some intermingling: fresh-killed chicken wings, are which category now? Entrees average $16.

Jo's, 264 Elizabeth [Houston/Prince] 212.966.9640, opened in 2009, but it's been given a boost by the recent arrival of chef Andrew Pressler who cooked at Fatty Crab. Some of the same Malay vibe here: beef rendang, galangal fried chicken with sambal goreng. Entrees average $20.

David Santos, the chef of Louro, 142 W. 10th [Waverly/Greenwich Ave.] 212.206.0606, is one to watch. Trained in Keller and Bouley kitchens and a veteran of a sub rosa supper club, he's now cooking new American in plain sight. Of Portuguese descent, you'll find accents from the Old World, too. All good. Entrees average $26. One star in today's Times.

At The Marrow, 99 Bank [Hudson/Greenwich St.] 212.428.6000, Harold Dieterle's new place, everything seems built for winter, with dishes based on Italian and German ingredients and riffs. Pan-fried duck schnitzel, baccala gnudi, even vitello tonato makes an appearance, though with quotation marks around it. The food goes well with the Forstreiter Saint Laurent Reserve 2008, made with the relatively unknown, fragrant St. Laurent grape which some say is related to Pinot Noir. But $15 for a glass? No red wine from Austria deserves this price, an admitted prejudice of ours.

Brooklyn's Char No. 4 begets Manhattan's Maysville, 17 W. 26th [Bway/6th] 646.490.8240, and the intersection of food and bourbon remains the desired location. It's a nice place to be. You'll be eating hearty, southern-inflected food (entrees average $28) whenever you happen to switch from your glass to your plate.

At the sidekick of Littleneck, Angelo Romano is kicking it at The Pines, 284 3rd Ave. [President/Carroll] Gowanus 718.596.6560, sending out American food with no strict fidelities—though Italian ingredients make themselves known, along with the hip-hop soundtrack. Cash only, entrees average $24.

Yet more American cooking, this time from Todd MacDonald at wood-besotted Willow Road, 85th 10th [15th/16th] 646.484.6566. The location may be Chelsea, the crowd is Meatpacking. Entrees average $19.

Mercer Street

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