Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 12/17/2014
Pear pizza. Courtesy, Upland
345 Park Ave. S., 212-686-1006, Flatiron District, Manhattan
The city of Upland, California, is where it all began for Justin Smillie, a chef who's come far in the culinary world. At NoHo's Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria he received rapturous reviews; now he's paired up with mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto) to pay homage to his West Coast roots. Upland's seasonal menu skews Italian with crisp-crusted pizzas (the delectable pear, pecan pesto, arugula and creamy stracciatella, for instance) and pastas like fettuccine with Nantucket bay scallops and Umbrian black truffles. Smillie also weaves in Asian ingredients, using blistered shishito peppers as a vehicle for bottarga, and gochujang (an earthy Korean spice paste) to flavor cioppino. A vestibule stocked with jars of preserved lemons leads to a country-chic, wood- and gingham-detailed dining room bathed in light. The copper-accented bar holds center stage, a lively perch if there's a wait for a table.