Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 03/19/2009
113 MacDougal St., 212-475-3850, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Waverly Inn, watch your back! You've met your match in Keith McNally's beautifully restored Minetta Tavern. This 72-year-old Greenwich Village hangout hit the skids years ago, most nights sadly empty. Now just try to get a table after 6:30. There is a nostalgic, dipped-in-amber glow to the place, but it's no museum relic. Balthazar chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson have installed a masculine French bistro menu, featuring tartares, steak, bone marrow and burgers at affordable prices. Salads, seafood and roast chicken are on hand for fainter appetites. Classic cocktails, four kinds of absinthe, a jazzy sound system and a warm welcome make it feel timeless—like Tony Bennett just hitting his groove.
717 Fifth Ave., 3rd fl., 212-207-1902, Midtown East, Manhattan
Giorgio Armani's first US concept store, Armani/5th Avenue, is the new neighbor to other marquee names like Prada, Tiffany and Gucci. On the way to his high-design restaurant on the top floor—via elevator or a loopy, Guggenheim-like staircase—there's lots of eye candy, from clothes to handbags to chocolates. If your temptations are purely culinary, save your money for Italian-accented specialties like almond-crusted suckling calf filet with apple puree, or a vegetarian dish of zucchini flan with Parmesan fondue and truffle. The restaurant is a hushed and sexy, black-toned lair that comes with an expensive price tag—but what else would you expect?
Bloomingdale's, Lower Level, 1000 Third Ave., 212-705-2993,
Midtown East, Manhattan
This mod, new cafeteria in Bloomingdale's is the antithesis of Armani/Ristorante, a bright spot tucked behind an escalator on the lower level of the department store. Shoppers toting iconic Big Brown Bags and Little Brown Bags slip into blond-wood chairs for restorative soup, hamburgers, skinny fries and ultra-thick milk shakes. Cupcakes are courtesy of Sweet Revenge on Carmine Street. The main event, however, is the create-your-own-burger concept, offering blends of hearty short ribs, sweet brisket, Kobe beef, turkey or lamb; an overabundance of sauces (from garlic aioli to mango salsa); cheeses and toppings (including bacon and fried egg), along with your choice of bun (hot cherry pepper and Asiago cheese, brioche, ciabatta, rye and more).
2170 Broadway, 212-496-2722, Upper West Side, Manhattan
There's more to love at the Upper West Side location of Fatty Crab, with a real bar, roomier seating and a bigger Southeast Asian menu than the downtown locale. Though the Upper West Side is a family neighborhood, the red walls, dark lighting, industrial furnishings and stimulating bathroom art have already made this place a hotspot for singles. You'll find chef/partner Zak Pelaccio's signature dishes (chili crab, watermelon pickle and crispy pork salad, noodles, steamy soups and coconut rice) as well as street food–style additions like mini pork and beef sliders and chicken or scallop satay with peanut sauce. Mixologist Allen Katz designed the exotic cocktails, like the Sinners' Buck with Mekhong Thai spiced rum, Chartreuse, Meyer lemon and ginger ale.