Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen , 05/21/2009
31 W. 17th St., 212-675-7223, Flatiron District, Manhattan, aldearestaurant.com
George Mendes is a chef's chef, having toiled away and gained respect in the kitchens at Bouley, Wallsé and Tocqueville as well as in France and Spain. Now he's opened his own restaurant in the Flatiron District, a minimalist, bi-level space with no bells and whistles to distract you from the food. "Aldea" means "village" in Portuguese, and the menu reflects Mendes' family heritage when it comes to house-cured salt cod, shrimp alhinho with garlic and coriander, and wild striped bass with saffron and crab caldeirada (stew). To get more up close and personal with Mendes, try to sit at the chef's counter, essentially front-row seats facing the exposed kitchen.
The Capital Grille
Time & Life Building, 120 W. 51st St., 212-246-0154, Midtown West, Manhattan, thecapitalgrille.com
Another big-time steak house has muscled its way into Midtown, displaying a handsome, confident swagger. The Capital Grill also has branches in Seattle, Boston and Miami, among other cities, but you know you're in New York from the enormous portraits of Joe DiMaggio, Shirley Chisholm, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Philip Johnson. The warren of dark wood dining rooms includes seven private rooms and a floor-to-ceiling glass wine kiosk that holds many of the restaurant's 7,000 bottles. The spacious bar also features walls of wine lockers that can be leased for private stashes. In addition to a number of dry-aged steaks there are lobster and crab cakes; pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers; and seared, citrus-glazed salmon.
147 Front St., 718-766-9110, DUMBO, Brooklyn, rebarnyc.com
Beer hounds may be familiar with the mighty list of brews at reBar (15 on tap, 80 in bottles), and now comes a new French-Mediterranean menu to help soak up the suds. Owner Jason Stevens has installed Lori D'Agostino as executive chef, turning the sprawling, endearingly funky bar into a full-service gastronomic experience. The space, more than a century old, was a tea warehouse in a former life and is broken up by giant columns that support a restored terra-cotta barrel-vaulted ceiling. On street level is a coffee bar, and up a flight of steps is the restaurant and bar. Beer and wine pairings are suggested for plates of savory chorizo skewers (which you char yourself), whole roasted brook trout with garlic haricots verts, and Prince Edward Island mussels with coconut curry sauce. The menu also features dishes suitable for vegans and lacto-vegetarians.