Recently Opened Restaurants

Dining

by Julie Besonen, 09/25/2009

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Los Feliz
109 Ludlow St., 212-228-8383, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Not that anyone's tired of visually stunning lairs like La Esquina or Hotel Griffou, but the latest underground magnet pulling in hipsters is Los Feliz, which means "the happy" in Spanish (and is a reference to the LA neighborhood). The rustic, Mexican-themed cantina is a testament to the canniness of the owners behind Spitzer's Corner, their other hotspot nearby. They coyly don't answer the phone or email, relying on a whispering campaign that's proven irresistible to in-the-know mobs (don't let the un-mobbed street level fool you). Although there's an obvious emphasis on tequila, the kitchen hasn't quite found its sea-legs yet—something of a surprise, since there's an estimable chef, Julieta Ballesteros (Crema, Mexicana Mama), at the helm. Even still, guacamole, tacos, ceviche and quesadillas help soak up the margaritas (try one with jalapeño-infused tequila—Los Feliz does its own infusing). Graffiti-plastered walls, cobblestones and shadowy lighting provide the backdrop for juiced-up groups—this place is not for quiet dates.

Motorino
349 E. 12th St., 212-777-2644, East Village, Manhattan
If you're a true believer in the greatness of pizza, organize a pilgrimage to the new Motorino. Pie fanatics who used to genuflect to Una Pizza Napoletana, the space's former occupant, will find that Belgian-born pizzaiolo Mathieu Palombino is using the same Acunto wood-burning oven that was handcrafted in Naples. The menu is abridged from his original Motorino in Williamsburg, with items like fire-roasted mortadella and mouth-coatingly rich soft-serve ice cream bookending the pizza. Highlights atop the bubbly, charred crust are smoked scamorza cheese, butternut squash, pancetta and sage, and a take on the transcendent filetti (a favorite from the Una Pizza days): mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and thyme. If you lack the inclination to wait for a table in the small, plain-Jane space, take-out pies are elastic enough to fold, libretto-style, for easy eating on the street.

SD26
19 E. 26th St., 212-265-5959, Gramercy/Flatiron District, Manhattan
A space just off Madison Square Park is the new home for the revered San Domenico, which spent 20 years bordering Central Park. Father-daughter team Tony and Marisa May packed up their passion for contemporary Italian cuisine and unleashed it in a tri-level, splashy, modern art-filled showplace. Executive chef Odette Fada also made the move, hatching a new menu along the way. Her right-hand man, chef de cuisine Matteo Bergamini, worked at San Domenico years ago as its sous chef. Exquisite soft egg yolk ravioli with truffle butter made the cut from the old menu; new additions include prized salumi, uncommon Italian cheeses and beef cheeks braised in spiced red wine. There's even a bar and lounge area, featuring a menu of small dishes (Sicilian chickpea fritters, duck confit with grilled pineapple), where you can examine the wireless wine menu, showcasing 1,500 selections (SD26 has 10,000 bottles in stock).

 

related venues/(2)

  1. 1
    Motorino
    319 Graham Ave
    Multiple Locations
    NY
  2. 2
    Los Feliz
    109 Ludlow St
    Manhattan – Lower East Side
    NY 10002

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