Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 04/03/2009
10 Downing St., 212-206-9111, West Village, Manhattan
Silvano Marchetto is no slouch—his restaurant Da Silvano has been a nerve center for the fashionable since 1975. And how wise of him, in this economy, to open a simpler trattoria across the street. Scuderia essentially means dream team—in this case, Signor Silvano; his daughter, Leyla; his general manager, Alessandro Bandini; and jazz guitarist Fabrizio Sotti. They're attracting the same sort of who-is-that? habitués, many of whom are ushered upstairs to the VIP room. Downstairs is fun, too, with convivial communal tables and a gently curving bar to gather around if you have to wait, which you often do. Breakfast and lunch are more quiet and loose. Any time, get the polpette (mini meatballs), arancini (fried rice balls) and pizza with fig jam, blue cheese and speck, a mind-blowing combination of savory and sweet.
21 E. 12th St., 212-255-3271, Union Square/Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Fans of Kampuchea Noodle Bar on the Lower East Side (and if you're not among them, get with the program) will be happy to know that partners Ratha Chau and Ben Daitz have spun off a Cambodian sandwich shop. The street-level counter is for on-the-go eaters, and upstairs it's first come, first sit (or stand). It may not be fancy, but it is gourmet, from the freshly toasted Parisi Bakery semolina baguettes to fillings of pulled pork or peppercorn catfish.
290 Hudson St., 212-989-6410, SoHo, Manhattan
Tucked away on an unassuming Hudson Square block, next door to the no-frills Jazz Gallery, Harbour is a real surprise. It's a nautically themed restaurant whose interior approximates that of a billionaire's yacht, complete with portholes, glossy wood, tufted white leather banquettes and a crazily colorful chandelier. It's certainly a bold undertaking. Richard Schaefer, the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange, is behind it, and here's hoping he can keep it afloat. It helps that the seafood-centric dishes are all under $30 and that 10 bottles of wine sell for $20 or less. The fish is local and sustainable whenever possible.
345 Grand St., 718-599-0069, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A long-ago gambling den and speakeasy has been rehabilitated into a subterranean farmhouse bistro so sweet it could melt a gangster's heart. Gina and Carlo Vutera, the sister and brother who own Rose Live Music upstairs, hired Molly Del Monte (ex–Little Giant) to create a tantalizing, straightforward Mediterranean menu. It's a romantic place to linger over day boat scallops, pork tenderloin, cauliflower and leek gratin and a lovely selection of artisan cheeses.
Defonte's of Brooklyn
261 Third Ave., 212-614-1500, Gramercy, Manhattan
Brooklyn's Defonte family has a long history of building mammoth deli sandwiches (since 1922, to be exact). Now they’ve finally brought their architectural marvels to Manhattan. Best sources of pleasure include the pork hero and hot roast beef with made-on-the-premises mozzarella and thin slices of fried eggplant. In all, there are more than 20 ways to have it your way, several of them named for members of the Rat Pack (the Sinatra Special, the Dino, the Joey Bishop). Gramercy-area workers and residents have gone gaga for the place, creating a lunchtime line out the door. Quarters are cramped and seating is limited, but the ace staff members are masters of speed.