Restaurants that get obsessive about something — bourbon, sushi, French-Italian food — and take it completely over the top are getting our attention lately. Check out these intense new restaurants and get carried away to the next level.
PABU Boston at Millennium Tower
PABU Boston at Millennium Tower
Taking their dynamic izakaya and sushi bar concept from San Francisco to Boston, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina and renowned chef Ken Tominaga have opened PABU Boston at Millennium Tower. The east coast outpost has already been reeling in rave reviews, and Mina is excited to be in New England, calling it a “lifelong dream” and planning to take full advantage of the abundant seafood. The menu, executed by classically trained sushi chef Ben Steigers, will feature not just mind-blowing sushi, but also dishes like Tokyo Fried Chicken Karaage and seasonal versions of okonomiyaki, in which pork belly, squid, a sunny-side-up egg and bonito fish are topped with warm yuzu butter lobster, fried oysters or soft shell crab. Boston, we’re jealous.
It’s here! The Federal, the much-anticipated new concept by Chef Shaun Doty and business partner Lance Gummere, has opened for dinner and morning coffee bar service, with breakfast, lunch and brunch coming soon. The appetizers alone are piquing our curiosity: Sardinian flatbread features Vella dry jack cheese and argan oil; the antipasto includes duck ham, fresh ricotta and deviled eggs; the cheese on the oxtail French onion soup is cave aged. The rest of the menu takes off from there, with Western European-inspired dishes like pork schnitzel, venison with pierogi, a few big, bad steaks and a whole fish (loup de mer). Doty zigged while others are zagging, closing a fast-casual spot (Bantam + Biddy Midtown) and opening this neighborhood bistro, which he describes as a way of “reconnecting with our guests.”
Named for the Italian word for sardine, Sardella is James Beard winner Best Chef: Midwest Gerard Craft's new concept, replacing his flagship restaurant, Niche. Executive chef Nick Blue and executive pastry chef Sarah Osborn are also shaping the menu, which is pleasantly whimsical but rooted in appealing classics. Sign us up for all of the shareable plates, which include dinner rolls with black garlic butter, pistachio and white bean hummus and gnocco fritto: airy fried dough pockets filled with crème fraiche and topped with gravlax, bone marrow, citrus and tarragon. And with a name like Sardella, there must be seafood. A few different crudos, like fluke tartare with lime, walnut oil and chives, look innovative and fresh. Italian dishes veer into Asian territory with Uni Carbonara and Miso-Ricotta Ravioli, spiked with orange, pepitas, brown butter and tarragon. Sardella is open for breakfast and lunch as well.
What do you get when you cross a barn with a speakeasy? The new “meat-centric” hideaway from Chicago-area restaurateur Amy Morton. This old brick barn was built in 1883 to house horses for the Borden Condensed Milk Co.’s horse and buggy team. It’s tucked away in an alley and the door opens up into a big-yet-cozy room with crumbling walls and a six-foot chandelier. Chef Nicole Pederson has created a menu with homey favorites spiked with luxury, such as chicken pot pie with a velvety veloute, bison Bolognese and roasted vegetable Provencal. The meat is steakhouse-fabulous, with ribeyes, New York and tenderloin, with butter, béarnaise and red wine glace. Speaking of red wine, the sommelier is Michelle Sallemi, a Level 2 Certified Sommelier for the Court of Master Sommeliers. Pretty fancy for an old barn!
Harp and Crown
Harp and Crown
Michael Schulson and Nina Tinari-Schulson of Schulson Collective are into fixer-upper and diamond-in-the-rough historic spaces for restaurants and bars. Harp and Crown, in Philly’s Center City, is no exception, and the “after” is a stunner. There’s a glass façade, high ceilings, antique chandeliers, fireplaces, two bowling lanes, cool vintage wallpaper and a menu of American new classics from executive chef Karen Nicolas. A big charcuterie and small plates appetizer menu includes oysters, big eye tuna crudo, lamb meatball sliders and pizzas with toppings like soppressata, shishito and smoked octopus. Cocktails run the gamut from the Meridian Peak (tequila, chili, blood orange soda) to the Dying Declaration (bourbon, cinnamon tincture, bitters).
Ken Goodman Photography
New York City
Frasca Food and Wine alums Chef Jared Sippel and GM James King are bringing an Italian dining idea to life in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood with Italienne. “In Italy, nearly every fine-dining ristorante has a complementary osteria,” Sippel says. That symbiotic relationship inspired Italienne’s front tavern, where guests can get a la carte menu items, and the more formal dining room, which features a four-course tasting menu. The menu isn’t completely straightforward Italian; Sippel flouts boundaries and has created dishes that meld French and Italian ingredients. Taverna choices include bread and cabbage dumplings, rabbit en cocotte and a Venetian seafood platter. Desserts by Pastry Chef Rebecca Isbell will be amped-up classics such as a tarte tatin layered with sage-poached quince, goat cheese gelato, quince sorbet and sage pate feuilletée.
Baptiste & Bottle
Baptiste & Bottle
On the 20th floor of the new Conrad Chicago hotel in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Baptiste & Bottle is a collaboration between Chef Richard Sandoval and Chef James Lintelmann. City views are abundant, as are creative bar snacks like spaetzle and duck confit and entrees like triple-seared prime strip steak. And of course, the bottle in the name is well-represented. A special program allows guests to really get into whiskey and bourbon with flight offerings and a knowledgeable staff to guide the experience. Once guests complete the arduous task of enjoying each of the featured whiskeys, they receive their own premium bottle to store in a personalized locker. That’s a genius way to encourage repeat visits.
When Fabrizio and Diana Bianconi took over the former Ortolan space, they turned to Spacecraft Design Group for a stylish revamp. Now, with a warmer, more lounge-like, still-dramatic feel, Bianconi is making the most of that space with a Mediterranean menu that takes things to new levels. Signature dishes include a seafood carpaccio, housemade squid ink tonnarelli with baby calamari and braised veal ossobucco with saffron risotto. Wood-fired items are also a focus and an open grill lets patrons take a peek into the kitchen. Skylights bring the outdoors in, and the redesigned space also includes a showy quartz fireplace and centralized bar.