Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 04/17/2009
231 Mott St., 212-966-1234, NoLIta, Manhattan
With its weathered, raw brick walls and scavenged wood tables, benches and bookcases, Emporio already fits right into NoLIta, which straddles old-school Little Italy and is surrounded by mod boutiques. The Italian owners behind the Aurora restaurants in SoHo and Williamsburg have succeeded in evoking an early-20th-century Roman trattoria and grocery store, selling pasta, risotto and olive oil. The menu, however, is decidedly contemporary. In addition to novel pizzas and Flying Pigs Farm wood-fired porchetta, there's seared cuttlefish with salsa verde and organic black kale salad with parmigiano dressing. A late-night menu is served from 11pm to 2am, and lunch is coming soon—along with a liquor license.
Wechsler's Currywurst & Bratwurst
120 First Ave., East Village, Manhattan
German sausage enthusiasts, achtung! This tiny, timbered gasthaus-style eatery is about as real as it gets in the East Village, grilling quality bratwurst and currywurst (pork-based sausage topped with a special curry-infused tomato sauce). Rare German beers are served in appropriate tavern glassware at cellar temperature. When pizza won't do for a pre- or post-drinking bout, think about a pit stop here instead. It's the brainchild of Andre Wechsler, an ex-financier whose butcher ancestry is proudly displayed on the walls with photos of his hardworking great-grandparents. Sauerkraut, potato salad and hand-cut skinny fries pad a menu that features roughly six types of sausage. And just because there's no phone doesn't mean they're snobby—one or two workers are frantically grilling, bartending, washing up and cashiering at all times, so there's no time to answer.
177 Mulberry St., 212-925-8157, Little Italy, Manhattan
Funny to think that Manhattan rents are more affordable than Brooklyn's these days. Why else would Alan Harding and Jim Mamary close down their long-running Smith Street bistro, Patois, and move it to the heart of Little Italy? Expect the same well-executed French fare: charcuterie, coq au vin blanc, steak frites and garlic escargot, along with a recession-friendly prix-fixe dinner for $19.95. Brunch is $12.95, featuring croque monsieur, duck confit hash with poached eggs, and skillet French toast. The dining room is homey and old-fashioned, with curtained windows and vintage Gallic posters.
Barocco Winebar + Kitchen
110 Ninth Ave., 212-414-2700, Chelsea, Manhattan
The former Barocco Café has been rejiggered as a contemporary Italian enoteca, equipped to serve Chelsea residents, worker bees and guests ensconced at the nearby Maritime Hotel breakfast, lunch, dinner or any nosh in between. Restaurateur Danny Emerman (Zampa, Bottino) is the trendsetter behind it, along with partners Anthony Briatico and chef Alessandro Prosperi. In the narrow, sleek space detailed with blond wood and mirrors, antipasto, sandwiches and thoughtful pastas couple with boutique Italian wines by the glass or bottle. Lovely robiola cheese, brandade with garlic-slicked toast, and meat lasagna with porcini and béchamel are among the offerings.
St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar
140 W. 46th St., 212-840-8413, Midtown West, Manhattan
Pub culture may be dying in the UK, but it's alive and well at this newly relocated Times Square outpost, where tartan is well in evidence on banquettes and the kilted bartenders. Brothers Martin and Mark Whelan also own Stout, Maggie's Place and The Half Pint, but St. Andrews is their only restaurant in Manhattan that boasts homemade haggis with neeps and tatties. Other Scottish specialties include cock-a-leekie soup and Shetland Island salmon. Of further appeal are more than 200 scotches, a $29.95 prix-fixe menu and live Celtic music on Saturday nights.