Though we’re still in 2015’s first quarter, new and notable restaurants on the horizon already have us looking ahead. For starters, Amanda Cohen is reopening her popular Dirt Candy in a new, bigger spot in the Lower East Side. Danny Meyer’s Untitled restaurant will start up again in the new Whitney Museum of American Art, with Gramercy Tavern‘s famed chef Michael Anthony leading the kitchen. Aside from these upcoming revamps, there are plenty of fresh eateries that have opened. Whether you are seeking expertly executed sushi, elevated health food or authentic pasta, as always, NYC has what you crave.
In the heart of the West Village, you can find chef David Standridge’s health-focused, modern American cuisine at Cafe Clover, co-owned by David Rabin of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Lambs Club. Standridge, formerly of Market Table and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, has taken over the lovely corner at 10 Downing Street and, unlike many other venues that claim to have health food, the chef has gone to great lengths to ensure what he serves is also good for you. In fact, he has hired consultant Mike Roussell, director of nutrition at Peak Performance, to oversee the menu and its nutritious aspects. Dishes you might find include cauliflower steak with romesco and vegetable chutney; roasted Nova Scotia lobster with kohlrabi, coconut oil and fennel; and a plethora of hearty green salads with things like kale, pumpkin seeds and shiitake mushrooms in them. Then, for dessert, try the almond milk panna cotta with rose petal syrup. The restaurant has cocktails, too, and with options like the Tropic Thunder (rum, housemade pineapple syrup, fresh lime) and Thai chilies served over a coconut water ice block, a meal here may be just what the doctor ordered.
Saikai Dining Bar
Technically this Japanese restaurant opened up in the West Village at the tail end of 2014, but it’s certainly worth a mention. After all, it’s the only dining bar of its kind you can find in the city. It’s a type of eatery that showcases high-end cuisine mixed with the comforts of a traditional Japanese pub. To make it even more appealing, it’s run by two former Masa cooks: chefs Xiao Lin and Wing Cheng. While their food leans toward the conventional side, it definitely deviates a bit to make each dish memorable. One way this is done is with uni — yes, that luxuriant butter of the sea. With this delicacy, the chefs spruce up a stripe of sweet shrimp on toast and use it in a pasta dish that tastes like some sort of gourmet Asian macaroni and cheese, in the best possible way. They also do a tartare with Miyazaki beef, wasabi and miso; a pear salad with pine nuts and parmigiano; triggerfish sushi with mushroom chips and truffle; and grilled chicken wrapped in shiso leaves. Pair your meal with sake and enjoy it at one of the intimate tables along the wall, at the sturdy wooden bar in the front of the house or at the sushi counter in the rear.
What do you get when you take a chef who has worked at both the famed Momofuku Noodle Bar and the insanely good French Louie in Brooklyn? You get a menu at the December-opened spot that combines a sleek French wine bar with a classic Japanese izakaya by Ian Alvarez, the talented proprietor and chef of this quaint East Village restaurant. Expect to indulge in raw oysters with kimchi; crispy chicken in a chili vinegar with fresh herbs; short rib over buckwheat noodles with prawns; and steamed cockles swimming in an umami-rich enoki broth. For drinks, it offers a unique array of shōchū (a traditional Japanese liquor distilled from barley, sweet potatoes or rice), which is served straight up or mixed into artisan cocktails. And, for tea lovers, peruse a menu of special blends, including rich pu-erh, white monkey Bai Hou and a fresh tisane made with flowers from Mount Olympus — perfect for an after-dinner digestive or an accompaniment with the recently launched brunch menu.
Masseria Dei Vini
Since January, you’ve been able to take a seat next to a wall of glowing wine and comfort yourself with glorious handmade pasta at this midtown Italian restaurant, the latest by restaurateurs Pino Coladonato, Peppe Iuele and Enzo Ruggiero. The seafood-heavy menu highlights dishes from chef Coladonato’s home region of Puglia, an area bordering the Adriatic Sea in the south of Italy. Choose from plates of ravioli stuffed with shrimp and artichokes, squid ink pasta with baby clams in a white wine sauce and oven-roasted rabbit with fresh herbs. Or, take a cue from another Italian area altogether and go for the Neapolitan-style Mamma Mia pie with mozzarella fior di latte (cheese made from cow’s milk), mushrooms, egg and parma ham, straight from the Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven. No matter what you are in the mood for, it all goes splendidly with a glass of Brunello di Montalcino or one of the other Italian wines kept in stock.
Major Food Group, the guys responsible for the now-shuttered Torrisi Italian Specialties and the upscale Dirty French, is at it again with this newly opened Italian joint in the Meatpacking District. The food here speaks to the lighter, seafood-focused fare you find on the Sicilian coast and harks back to the time when the Manhattan neighborhood Santina sits in was treated as a waterfront area. This means it serves lobster Catalan, cured salmon, wild rice and calamari salad, linguine vongole verde, and guanciale e pepe (pork jowels and pepper) stir-fried rice — all within an enclosed glass cube under the High Line. Even though this hot spot just opened in mid-January, it’s tricky trying to snag one of the rustic wooden tables, so keep your fingers crossed when calling for reservations.