By now you may have heard that, hot on the heels of opening Westlight on the roof of Williamsburg’s shiny new William Vale hotel, Andrew Carmellini has opened his bottom-floor restaurant, Leuca. Grub Street noted that the Italian spot is serving “New York’s most elegant sundae,” which will surprise no one who’s had the decadent, over-the-top La Fantasia di Doppio Cioccolato at one of the chef’s other spots, Locanda Verde.
Something’s been cooking over at 2 Knickerbocker, the triangular lot that was once home to Amancay’s Diner, a late-night “spin the bottle” diner opened by a restauranteur known for his jello-wrestling glory days. The new tenant, Cape House, is a bit more serious minded, and aims to fill a big ol’ hole in the city’s food scene.
A replacement for the flash-in-the-pan Latin fusion cantina Lorenzo’s has arrived at the Jefferson stop in Bushwick. Daniel Cipriani, the proprietor of Sea Wolf, who also owns a pair of dining establishments in Williamsburg– Lodge and Urban Rustic– as well as the Playland Grill in Rockaway, told us that the surf-n’-turf corner spot has been krilling it, so to speak, since it officially opened a few weeks ago.
Plenty of upscale diners have hit the food scene as of late– for one, there’s Juno, the Bushwick restaurant that John Barclay (founding dude at Bossa Nova Civic Club) recently pulled out of– and there was even a short-lived spot called Amancay’s Diner that was, well, a bit more of a downscale kind of place, with a spin-the-bottle setup and an owner who was better known for throwing jello-wrestling parties than his food.
But Hail Mary– a new Greenpoint restaurant that opened on Wednesday night in the former home of 68 and then subsequently (briefly too) Hook & Cleaver which was run by Chopped chef Diane DiMeo– is pushing the diner concept even further with their avant-garde take on the American everyman classic.
On Monday John Barclay, proprietor of Bushwick mainstay Bossa Nova Civic Club, announced on Facebook that he was no longer involved with Juno, the upscale-diner “date spot” that he opened up with the help of the same investors from his nightclub venture back in December. “It had become clear that the spot wouldn’t survive without the funding that I can’t provide,” he wrote, wishing the place well.
“This is my little baby,” Ricardo Valdez said with an excited grin, opening the door to his brand new bar on Orchard Street. A former floor manager at one of New York’s premier French destinations, Ladurée Soho, Valdez capered off with Chef Johann Giraud (who has a truly jaw-dropping internet 1.0 web-xistence), to launch their own take on the old world. The result: Excuse My French, an irreverent tapas bar dedicated to all things Francophone.
It’s the time of year for spiked apple cider, festive but often indiscernible light displays above your block, and that priceless gift of a 311 call from your neighbors when you’re belaying a Festivus pole through your third-floor window. Amassing unique holiday gifts for your pals, loved ones, and others you’re obligated to feign closeness with for at least as long as you’re sharing a roof, is apparently all part of the fun too.
After all, what’s the holiday season without conspicuous consumption? Unless you’re in the business of being a total troll, then grabbing generic crap from J.Crew Wythe the day before is simply not an option. The least you can do to ease your capitalist guilt is patronize local businesses. Here’s how you can be nice (and not naughty) this holiday season.
Sure, Williamsburg is a long way from the slopes, but this winter you can take part in the city version of après-ski rituals at the Fondue Chalet.
The seasonal pop-up– another establishment from the proprietor of a regular army of food and drink outlets including Diviera Drive (the fantasy yacht club restaurant just down the street), Soho’s Rintintin and Café Select, and LES party den, Happy Ending– opened on Friday, and plenty of guests were ready to get slippy.
Chef Erik Ramirez has moved from fancy town to… well, another fancy town. But at his new Williamsburg restaurant, the former Eleven Madison Park sous chef isn’t invoking the trappings of his old place of employment, where they still ready the dining room by ironing their white linen tablecloths. Instead, he’s going for a relaxed atmosphere and moderately priced food that’s closer to his heart. Ramirez’s parents are from Peru (they moved to New Jersey in the 1980s) and this time last year the chef was traveling there, conducting the best research we can imagine to build his menu.
This weekend in Bushwick, you can jam on some Middle Eastern fare and peep in on the progress over at House of Yes during Queen of Falafel’s grand opening brunch party. As the acrobatic DIY performance collective continues to put seemingly endless layers of crazy on their new Jefferson Street home before the space can officially raise the curtains, cousins Justin Ahiyon and Ilan Telmont (both partners at HoY along with co-founders Anya Sapozhnikova and Kae Burke) have gone ahead and opened up their falafel joint inside a small corner of the building.
“It’s sort of an unknown region in Southern France, very poor, with incredible food,” explained Henry Moynahan Rich, owner of neighborhood greats like East Williamsburg’s Fitzcarraldo and Rucola in Boerum Hill. He was talking about the inspiration behind Cassette, his new French Catalonian outpost in Greenpoint. “It’s simple, rustic, healthy food, because that’s how I like to eat.”
We happened on a new restaurant at the corner of Grand and Bedford, directly across from Radegast’s new “Flemish brasserie,” Witlof. Dim Sum Bar stands in place of the late, A-OK vegetarian spot Bliss Grand, and offers a Cantonese alternative (with some Hong Kongese flair) to nearby Asian small-bite places like Snacky down the street. “It’s a little more like what you’d find in Chinatown,” explained Gigi So, whose family owns and runs the restaurant. “My father’s cooking and my grandpa’s doing dishes.”