Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 04/09/2014
Charred carrots. Photo: Daniel Krieger
- more in dining/
324 Lafayette St., 212-334-6400, NoHo, Manhattan
Bobby Flay is a lucky guy. He has a successful TV career, a beautiful actress wife (Stephanie March, of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and a history of restaurants that haven't flopped (Mesa Grill, Bolo, Bar Americain). But the success of his latest venture is no doubt the result of talent and hard work. The ambitious Gato is named for an orange cat that slithered through his legs the first time he inspected the NoHo space. Flay and partner Laurence Kretchmer's vast, industrial hacienda holds its own against nearby heavyweights like Lafayette, Acme, Saxon & Parole and Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. Highlights of the inspired Mediterranean menu include creamy crab risotto enhanced with chiles, citrus and garlic bread crumbs, and a voluptuous pork porterhouse resting on crusty, cheesy polenta. Vegetarian paella is vibrant, wreathed with kale, wild mushrooms, artichokes and a sunny egg. Prices for the potent cocktails and wine by the glass are affordable, and refills of ciabatta, olive-studded bread and pungent pools of olive oil are freely offered. If a reservation is hard to come by, it's worth playing vulture at the wraparound bar or the first-come, first-served bar tables up front.