New spots from Batali and Morimoto and other notable openings from San Francisco to New York, Chicago to Florida's Gulf Coast have us thinking about a road trip.
Opened: February 2016
Italian restaurant titans Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have opened their first New York City restaurant in a decade inside a sprawling space at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea. The duo have positioned La Sirena as a neighborhood restaurant, and it is open from breakfast (Amaretti Mascarpone Pancakes, anyone?) to dinner. A grand, 38-foot bar welcomes guests to an urbane space that features white tablecloths as well as and handmade Portuguese pavers underfoot. Menu highlights include Alici (anchovies) Marinated with Fennel Three Ways; an old-school beef brachiole; and a Golden Potato Lasagna with béchamel.
Saint Lou’s Assembly
Opened: March 2016
Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, principal owners of 16”On Center (the group behind Chicago’s Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s, Thalia Hall, The Promontory, Punch House, Beauty Bar and others), just opened two adjoining spaces in the city’s Fulton Market neighborhood. St. Lou’s is a cheeky “meat and three” cafeteria-style joint headed up by seven-time Michelin-starred chef Jared Wentworth. Diners grab a tray and work their way down the line, selecting offerings like like Meatloaf Wellington; Old Bay Crusted Catfish; and Roast Duck with Lavender Glaze. Sides include Green Bean Casserole; Mac and Cheese with butter cracker crust; and Carrots and Beets with brown butter granola. Rotating daily specials include Fried Chicken with black pepper gravy; Lobster Thermidor with cognac sauce; and Veal Milanese with brown butter capers. But Finkelman and Golden didn’t stop there. Next door they opened…
Opened: March 2016
Admit it, you’d order any drink these guys were selling. The no-frills Moneygun is “a bar-goers bar,” complete with neon lights and old-school circular booths. It’s headed up by partners Will Duncan (Punch House), Dustin Drankiewicz (Tack Room & The Promontory, Jean Banchet, and a “Best Mixologist in Chicago” finalist) and Justin Anderson (La Sirena Clandestina). Throwback favorites include a Pink Squirrel, Bee’s Knees, Jack Rose and Side Car. “Bar food,” by Wentworth (he’s usually next door at Saint Lou’s), has never been better: Foie Gras Grand Slam with candied bacon powder and maple braised apples; and buffalo frog legs with aerated blue cheese (a wink at chicken wings).
Opened: April 2016
“Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto beautifully integrates Japanese and American cuisines at his acclaimed Morimoto restaurants in New York, Napa, Waikiki and other destinations. Now, however, he’s going casual with Momosan (that’s Morimoto’s nickname in the kitchen), a ramen-and-apps joint in New York’s Murray Hill neighborhood. The small plates include items like Tetsunabe Gyoza with pork and chives served on an iron skillet with scallion ginger sauce; Chashu Salad with pork chashu, romaine, cucumber and spicy garlic sauce; Peking Duck Tacos with cucumber, hoisin, apricot sweet chili sauce and wrapped in crispy gyoza skin; oven-roasted Tetsunabe Kurobuta Sausage served in an iron skillet with garlic and sake; Yaki Salmon with harasu, kama and karamiso; and braised pork belly Kakuni Bao (shown). The 60-seat space is modern and relaxed with exposed brick walls, dark wood tables and a ceiling that’s lined with the bottoms of deck brooms, suggesting boxed ramen noodles.
Opened: November 2015
Sarah Grueneberg, chef and partner at Chicago’s Monteverde, is one of several chefs who rose through the ranks to become executive chef of the city’s landmark restaurant, Spiaggia. Under her direction, Spiaggia was awarded a Michelin star for three consecutive years. Grueneberg will no doubt rack up accolades at Monteverde as well. Her upscale Italian cuisine reflects her world travels, and the result is cooking that is both traditional and modern. Grueneberg’s house-made pastas range from the traditional (such as hearty Ragu Alla Napoletana with fusilli, cacciatore sausage, soppressata meatballs and pork shank) to the modern (a wok-fried Arrabbiata linguine with shrimp). A rustic interior captures the atmosphere of an Italian home.
Opened: January 2016
The third restaurant from longtime Bay Area restaurant scene fixture Umberto Gibin (Perbacco, Barbacco) and chef-partner Staffan Terje is an ultramodern brasserie where the menu melds Terje’s Scandinavian background and traditional French cooking. The menu includes Herring Five Ways; House-Cured Gravlax; Bouef Bourguignon; and Mussels Steak Frites. Drinks include housemade aquavit, as well as classic cocktails, wines and frites-friendly beers. The airy space includes a mezzanine level, bold geometric fixturesand lots of glass, metals and blonde woods.
Naples Bay Resort
Opened: March 2016
Two-time James Beard winner Art Smith (Table 52, Chicago; Southern Art Bourbon and Bar, Atlanta) artfully weaves Italian flair into Southern favorites at this sophisticated space at the Naples Bay Resort. Starters include a citrus-marinated olive medley with thyme, rosemary and temple oranges mixed with candied pecans and pickled cheese curd. “Hoecakes” (cornmeal flatbreads) are served with 24-hour slow-braised oxtail and caramelized onions, Gorgonzola and arugula. Smith’s fried chicken is prepared with a rosemary brine and the breading is flecked with fresh rosemary.
Opening: April 2016
Traditional French techniques mix with the flavors of the South at the historic R.J. Reynolds building, adjacent to The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel in Winston-Salem, NC. The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is a striking art deco space headed up by chef Ed Witt (Rubicon and Jardinière, San Francisco; Daniel, Il Buco and River Café, New York; and The Partisan, Washington DC) and g.m. Herbie Gimmel (Screen Door, Charleston, SC) Highlights include Escargot baked with herb butter and garnished with hushpuppies; classically inspired Rabbit Rillettes; and Foie Gras Torchon. Witt will house-smoke meats and, in the brasserie tradition, serve a variety of steaks with accompanying sauces. Daily specials will include Lobster Pot Pie Tuesdays to Pot Roast for Sunday Family Dinner.