Plus a new destination for rosé, a ‘healthy’ pizza spot and a print edition of the Zagat guide returns
By KATE KRADER
The dining spots and events we’re most excited about in New York and Las Vegas.
Hells Kitchen, Manhattan; Opened April 12
• Private Dining Room: Seats about 20.
• Hours: Thursday-Saturday, from 6pm.
• Location: 735 10th Ave.
Eyal Shani is one of Israel’s top chefs and the judge of MasterChef Israel. But he’s best known for the raucous wedding-party-style dinners he hosts at his Tel Aviv restaurant HaSalon which happen two nights a week (with two seatings per night). The first seating is traditional: A parade of ingredient-focused dishes served as classical music plays in the background. At the second seating, the music gets increasingly louder, a DJ appears, and the menu slides into the realm of performance art. “The first seating is dinner. The second seating is a party,” says Shani.
Now, he’s bringing the singular experience to New York’s Skyline Hotel, which will open three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday. A line of eight cooks working from an open kitchen will face the large, low-ceilinged dining room, with white and silvery grey bricks, and outfitted with variously sized tables seating around 120.
The menu will change nightly, but a typical dinner will begin with squares of hot focaccia and spicy dip. There will inevitably be beef carpaccio literally served on the table: A server wheels a butcher cart over, throws some sliced raw meat on the table, and uses a mallet to pound it thin.
Shani has well-known affinity for tomatoes, choosing to serve them “naked” in his new restaurant: The fruit in varying stages of ripeness, chopped and drizzled with Sicilian olive oil and salt. He also offers pizzas, made with dough that ripples with big air pockets with toppings like an olive oil-heavy tomato sauce with mozzarella melted into it. He’ll also serve pastas that might range from squiggly shaped pici with calamari and burnt butter (or lamb ragu) to tomato ravioli with sage butter. The restaurant’s tabun — a special, pizza-like oven — will be utilised for roasting whole fish and large cuts of meat such as rib-eye and sirloin, which will be drizzled with butter and herbs before serving.
The wine list will include about 60 bottles, mostly from Burgundy, plus some selections from the US, Israel and Italy. A small selection of liquors, such as cucumber gin, will be on offer, along with a few food-friendly cocktails. But anyone who wants a Manhattan or Negroni will have to go next door, to the cocktail bar.
Shani says to expect table dancing as the night goes on. “Sometimes it’s weird — mostly it’s fun — but everyone says they’ve never had an experience like it,” he says.
The Poni Room
East Village; Opened April 2
• Hours: Tuesday-Thursday (6pm-10pm); Friday-Saturday (5pm-11pm).
• Location: 316 Bowery.
• Contact: 212-254-0350; @ThePoniRoom.
For everyone who knows rosé season is year-round, the new dining room below the destination bar Saxon + Parole (S+P) has arrived. The design group AvroKO (Beauty & Essex; SingleThread) created the space from S+P’s former wine cellar. It seats 36 guests at a mix of high tables and banquettes. The walls are decorated with classic-style, Japanese-fabric room dividers made from coral fabric and velvet, plus flags made from deconstructed antique horse blankets. The adjoining “beverage room” is stocked with rosé, for customers who want to see and Instagram the wine they’re about to drink.
Chefs Brad Farmerie and Nicole Gajadhar are featuring a seafood menu that highlights small plates. There are uni-topped English muffins, barbecued oysters with shrimp-chili paste, and lobster with pickled mango and lettuce leaves for wrapping. Skewers such as seared tuna, are accompanied by green-tea noodles, and prawns with Thai chile dipping sauce. Non-seafood fare includes Forever Crispy Wings with blue cheese aioli.
To drink: A selection of 20 different rosés from around the world, by the bottle, pitcher, or on tap. The handful of cocktails includes the Poni 50/50 (gin, vermouth, cucumber bitters) and a rotating boozy slushie. The all-purpose list also has red and sparkling wines, soju, sake and beer.
Manhattan’s Lower East Side; Opened April 3
• Hours: Daily, noon-11pm.
• Location: 1 Clinton Street.
• Contact: 917-265-8453; @biganyc.
BigA is touting a “healthy” version of the beloved pizza.
Chef Giovanni Barbieri, who honed his skills at the Università della Pizza in Padua, Italy, creates a crispy, light crust. The secret is “biga”, a 19th-century fermentation process that makes the dough airy and moist inside.
Toppings range from classic Margherita to the Gorda (hand-crushed tomato sauce, fior di latte cheese, spicy salami, gorgonzola, shaved leeks) and the Veneta (tomato sauce, fior di latte, spicy salami, Italian ham, mushrooms). There’s a fast-casual-style selection of base crusts, including a multigrain round pie, a long, rectangular slab that can serve 20 and a panini-style bread.
Barbieri offers a few non-pizza small plates, including assorted salumi, and salads, such as Sfiziosa with tuna and hard-boiled eggs.
For now, it’s necessary to bring your own alcohol. The restaurant expects to receive a beer-and-wine licence in the coming weeks.
The place seats 48, including 10 at the bar. The corner space has big windows overlooking the street and an open kitchen with the vibe of an old school pizza joint.
In the News
Shark, Las Vegas: Bobby Flay is opening his first new concept in five years as part of the Palms Casino Resort’s US$690 million (RM2.83 billion) renovation. The restaurant is named for Damian Hirst’s famous Shark which sits in the Palms’s lobby bar. “Latin flavours have been the backbone of my entire cooking career,” says Flay. His seafood-heavy menu features those flavours with such dishes as cured salmon and egg tostadas with rocoto hot sauce and black bean butter; a skewered taco cooked on a robata grill; and salmon sashimi with hot smoked chili dressing, made by a former Masa sushi chef who has joined the team. Opened on April 5, Palms Casino Resort.
The Return of Zagat: “From the moment we took control of the brand, we were interested in bringing Zagat back to print in some shape or form. We started hearing from Zagat’s most loyal fans from Day 1. It feels good to have an answer for people,” says Chris Stang, co-founder and CEO of online restaurant guide Infatuation, who bought Zagat in 2018. Zagat 2020 New York City Restaurants Guide will come out in November to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the guide. It’s the first print edition since 2016, and will be open to comments until May 5 at survey.zagat.com.
The Lincoln Center Alternative Investment Gala: Created to support the performing arts in New York, such as Jazz at Lincoln Centre and the Metropolitan Opera. Honoree Ilana D Weinstein, founder and CEO of the IDW Group LLC, and gala chairs Steven A Cohen of Point72 Asset Management, Bennett J Goodman of GSO Capital Partners, Anna Nikolayevsky of Axel Capital Management and Steven A Tananbaum of Goldentree Asset Management LP were scheduled to be in attendance. Wednesday, April 10, the Rainbow Room.
Bronx Museum Gala and Art Auction 2019: Swiss Beatz, TK Wonder and Larry Ossei-Mensah are headlining the dinner and art auction to support art, social justice and education. Honorees include Junko Kobayashi of the Stan Lee Foundation; gala chairs include ex-Millennium Partners MD Olivia Douglas. Monday, April 8, Capitale.
Edible Schoolyard NYC’s 7th Annual Spring Benefit: Some of the country’s top chefs gather to raise money for the programme that partners with the New York City public school system to teach children about food. Jake Gyllenhaal is the honorary co-chair; Momofuku’s David Chang is the culinary chair. Monday, April 15, 180 Maiden Lane. — Bloomberg