Gusto Now Going to Look and Taste Like Centro VinotecaChelsea: It doesn’t look good for those who are just getting used to the belly; pig’s ears are the latest trend, and even the version at stellar tapas spot Tía Pol was described by Peter Meehan as “crunchy and sticky with a funky pigskin flavor.” [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Financial District: Don’t forget, the trial run for the proposed year-round seasonal market at South Street Seaport starts on December 16 (and Molto Mario will be there). [Grub Street]
Park Slope: Tempo Presto is closing this Friday because the restaurant can’t keep up with the pricey rent. [Gowanus Lounge]
Upper West Side: Dovetail‘s opening next week. [Zagat]
West Village: Sasha Muniak must feel really good about the Centro Vinoteca formula; after tapping chef Anne Burrell to take over for Amanda Freitag, he plans to redesign the Gusto space by next year with help from Centro Vinoteca and Jean Georges designer Thomas Juul-Hansen. [Restaurant Girl] Andrea Strong unveils renderings of Jason Neroni’s new gig, 10 Downing. [Strong Buzz via Eater] Magnolia Bakery will be open regular hours every day this holiday season except for Christmas, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 24, kids can pick up a cupcake that comes with a note to Santa. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Williamsburg: A benefit party at Supreme Trading tomorrow night promises an open Bass Ale Beer bar from 7 to 8 p.m. and “one of the most difficult cuisines to find in New York City: Rwandan.” [Cakehead]
Back of the House
Jason Neroni Rumored to Be Cooking at 10 DowningWhen we spotted him cooking in Cantina’s tiny kitchen, Jason Neroni wouldn’t clue us into his future plans. Now Gawker brings word that he may be moving to Stephane Dorian’s 10 Downing, where Scott Bryan was the head chef. If it’s true, we bet Neroni will appreciate the extra legroom in the kitchen.
Rumors: Is Jason Neroni Off to 10 Downing? [Gawker]
Earlier: Jason Neroni Spotted in Cantina’s Kitchen, ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Not Called
Back of the House
Jason Neroni Spotted in Cantina’s Kitchen, ‘America’s Most Wanted’East Village hot-spot-in-the-making Cantina is the work of many Jasons. First there’s honcho Swamy, former owner of Movida. Then there’s designer Volenec, who also did Allen and Delancey and has worked with Serge Becker. And finally there’s consulting chef Neroni. Sure, we poked fun at Neroni during his brush with the law, but given the quality of his tasting menu’s pork shoulder dulce de leche (the full menu rolls out November 1, with beer and wine, brunch, and delivery to follow), we were glad to see him in Cantina’s three-by-four open kitchen rather than a jail cell (the jail cell probably would’ve been more spacious, but not as romantically lit). As soon as he put his knife down, we asked him what became of his beef with Porchetta, and where he’s been since then.
Don’t Pull a Neroni at This Year’s James Beard Awards
It’s that time of year again — time for chefs to nominate themselves for the James Beard Awards! The process by which anyone and everyone can go online and get their favorite cooks and restaurants on the ballot is a recipe for self-promotion and voter fraud beyond Karl Rove’s juiciest fantasies. Just ask Jason Neroni, the “desperate chef” whose ingenuous plea to his friends and family propelled him to laughingstock status. The Beard Awards are actually decided by an august committee, but starting on Monday, anyone who wants to make the judges aware of a chef or restaurant (even if they aren’t that chef themselves) can do so by going to the Beard Website. By all means though, don’t write anything along the lines of “hey everybody, I need your help!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE vote for me for rising star chef!” Because, you know, someone could get a hold of it and publish it on a Website, and then where would you be?
Related: Chef’s Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award!
Grub’s Gold: The Best From Year One
Ah, how time gets away from us! It was only one year ago that Grub Street began. How we long for those innocent days of yore! We poked through our archives, and, while we had to put a few personal favorites aside, here’s our short list of Grub Street’s Greatest Hits.
Alias’ New Chef Finally Arrives — From UzbekistanMore than a few people thought Alias might give up the ghost when chef Shane Coffey left last year. But the place has a way of staying in business, and new chef Mark Barrett seems to have stabilized it. (Barrett was hired in April but has only been cooking in the place for three weeks.) The menu at Alias has a split personality: On the one side is the pub grub that has helped keep the place in business these many months, all burgers, nachos, and the like; on the other is Barrett’s upscale, seasonal Italian food, reflective of the work he did at Babbo. (Readers of Bill Buford’s Heat will remember him from the book, in which he made a memorable clam sauce for the staff.) Why the long delay? Barrett was away in Uzbekistan, of all places, where he ate “tons of plov [pilaf] and sashlik [kebabs], some horse meat, and even dog.”
Porchetta Reborn as Carniceria, With Alex Garcia at the HelmThe ghost of Jason Neroni has been banished from Porchetta. The Carroll Gardens restaurant is coming back today as Carniceria, a Latin American steakhouse helmed by Novo and Calle Ocho chef Alex Garcia. Garcia’s menu will center on Uruguayan free-range beef, but he also plans on sophisticated Nuevo Latino appetizers, including oxtail empanadas with tomato escabèche and rosemary Malbec sauce, and a seviche of scallops lightly poached in white wine. “We wanted to change direction and distance ourselves from what happened with Jason,” owner Marco Rivero tells us. Carniceria will be having a soft opening between 7 and 9 p.m. tonight and will formally open this weekend.
Earlier: Porchetta Survives the ‘Desperate Chef’
Ne’er-do-well Neroni Traced to Alias on the Lower East SideBrooklyn Heights: Don’t want to mix your own mint juleps? Sip some at Magnetic Field’s Kentucky Derby party starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
East Village: A sushi restaurant gets pumped up about nice weather and starts advertising for iced green tea. [East Village Idiot] Plus, SB3 bar is finally open on Avenue B and 3rd Street and looks to have an ambitious cocktail repertoire. [Down by the Hipster]
Lower East Side: “Desperate Chef” Jason Neroni spotted cooking at Alias, where he is filling in for the month while the restaurant searches for a chef. [Grub Street]
Meatpacking District: Reservations won’t help you bypass the bouncer at Son Cubano restaurant. [This Is What We Do Now]
Midtown East: The bar area of Monkey Bar, Patricia Yeo’s new endeavor, is slated for a 5 p.m. opening tonight. [Eater]
Williamsburg: Crafty Pie fest at Union Pool this Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. is both a craft fair and an excuse to eat homemade pie. [Cakehead]
Porchetta Survives the ‘Desperate Chef’The rumors of Porchetta’s demise were premature. Jason Neroni, infamous first for lobbying for a Beard Award and then for forging his employer’s name on checks, was thought to have brought the whole operation down, but owner Marco Rivero tells us that the new kitchen head is as good as hired and should be signing a contract in the next day or so. He projects that the restaurant will reopen on May 7 with a new menu and a new lease on life. Neroni, meanwhile, lurks in the shadows …
Earlier: Neroni Signed His Own Checks and Is Back on the Street for Now, Source Claims
Porchetta Owners Claim Neroni Forged Their Signature
Porchetta Succumbs in Carroll GardensBedford-Stuyvesant: Heavenly Crumbs baker Shannon Pridgen demonstrates wedding-cake making in this sweet moving picture. [Eating for Brooklyn]
Carroll Gardens: Looks like Porchetta has closed. No press release from Jason Neroni. Yet. [Eater]
Ditmas Park: Connecticut Muffin coming to Cortelyou Road. [Living in Victorian Flatbush]
Gramercy: 2007 James Beard nominee for outstanding wine service Charles Scicolone pours his ten favorite wines tomorrow night for a class at Vino, Italian Wine and Spirits. [Vinosite]
Midwood: First tale of success from the Department of Health furor: DiFara’s Dom DeMarco wears a hat, and his pizza is better than ever. [Slice]
Prospect Heights: Flatbush Farm will be barbecuing Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. [A Brooklyn Life]
West Village: That’s it for mice getting in easy at the Waverly Inn. [Gothamist]
Williamsburg: Beloved gourmet-breakfast emporium Egg buys out Sparky’s. [Gawker]
A Koolman truck’s been spotted on Metropolitan Avenue. Repainting spotted after last month’s garage fire, but no word on whether anyone checked the ice cream. [Gowanus Lounge]
Car Plows Into Hop Kee; Neroni Keeps SpinningA car plows into the venerable Hop Kee restaurant in Chinatown. The restaurant is damaged, and one person is hurt. [Downtown Express]
Izakaya invasion! The city now boasts everything from simple sake joints with food to full-blown small-plate restaurants. [NYDN]
The official Times take on the Neroni Affair includes this classic quote, in defense of the Desperate Chef: “If Marco didn’t want anyone signing checks, including Jason, he should have put the checkbook in the safe.” [NYT]
Porchetta Owners Claim Neroni Forged Their SignatureMore info is filtering in on the Neroni Affair. Steven Hall, who has taken on the role of Neroni’s defender, passes along an admission from the Desperate Chef that, yes, he was fingerprinted, but that he was neither arrested nor Mirandized; authorities merely took a Polaroid of him, not the infamous mug shot. Neroni has affirmed that he often signed Marco Rivero’s name to checks with the owner’s permission, but Rivero’s wife and business partner, Shannon, denies this. “Jason signed his last two paychecks when he thought he was going to be fired, to make sure he got the money coming to him. Prior to that, of course not. I don’t know anybody that would let an employee do that.” Shannon reiterates that although she and her husband have no desire to hurt Neroni or, worse, get caught in an endless tabloid story, they have no intention of dropping the charges.
Earlier: Jason Neroni Arrested, Taken Into Custody
Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, Anyway
Neroni Signed His Own Checks and Is Back on the Street for Now, Source ClaimsSome possible clarification on the arrest of ex-Porchetta chef Jason Neroni for larceny has come our way, courtesy of the restaurant’s former publicist Steve Hall. According to Hall, Neroni claims that he merely signed his own check, something he has done many times. But owner Marco Rivero doesn’t see it that way, hence Neroni’s arrest for petit larceny. Neroni has, Hall claims, been released from custody. However, as Hall’s full letter indicates, the Neroni saga is far from over.
Jason Neroni Arrested, Taken Into CustodyJason Neroni, as we suggested might happen, has been arrested and charged. At last word, he was cooling his heels in the 76th Precinct. [Gawker]
Earlier: Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, Anyway
The Department of Health’s crackdowns have cost the industry millions, claims the New York Restaurant Association. [NYP]
The Shake Shack was only the beginning: The New York hamburger now has to be natural, ethical, and very, very good to compete in a crowded landscape. [NYDN]
Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, AnywayJason Neroni says he’s innocent of the charges leveled at him by the owner of Porchetta, Marco Rivero — he accused the Desperate Chef of misappropriation of funds and said there was a warrant out for his arrest — and earlier today Gawker confirmed that no such warrant exists. Here’s the latest: “I just came back from the police,” Rivero tells us, “and they said it takes a few days before the warrant can go into effect. The detectives want to check into something with both banks … but I don’t want to say too much.” We’ll see if the police report actually surfaces. We hope Neroni is planning his defense and not any more press releases. Rivero sounds like he means business.
Jason Neroni Considering Action Against Former Employer [Gawker]
Tribeca’s 66 Turning Japanese in MayBedford-Stuyvesant: The list of what to drink at Thursday’s Wine & Cocktail Tasting fund-raiser includes Cockspur Rum and Beam Wines. [Bed-Stuy Gateway]
Chelsea: The Frying Pan, the vessel recovered from the bottom of the ocean and turned into a bar in the eighties, has moved over a couple of piers and requires some work. [NewYorkology]
Chinatown: Highgate Holdings will transform the Baxter Street Holiday Inn into a boutique hotel with a “hip” restaurant possibly from Tao’s Marc Packer or Richard Wolf of Stanton Social. [NYP]
East Village: The new Cooper Square hotel may get an outlet of L.A.’s Table 8. [Down by the Hipster]
Harlem: Arlene Weston’s Southern-Jamaican Maroon’s is expanding uptown to West 145th Street and may be open by June. [Uptown Flavor]
Tribeca: 66 will be turning Japanese in May. [Eater]
Williamsburg: The Brooklyn Kitchen will host a cupcake cook-off tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.; you may get handouts if bakers decide to bring more than the required six contenders. [Gothamist]
Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater]
Nearly everyone got an award at last night’s Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY]
Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]
Neroni Gives Lame Reason for Leaving PorchettaNeroni’s reason for leaving Porchetta: They wanted to open for lunch and start serving sandwiches. And here we thought he was a prima donna. [Eat for Victory/VV]
The Russian Tea Room, taking a page from straight-to-DVD movies, pulls misleading blurbs from bad reviews to try to get some desperately-needed positive press. [Page Six]
Sullivan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey is said to be opening a pizzeria in Chelsea. [Food and Wine]
Neroni Leaves Porchetta; City Hates Big Pink CupcakeChef Jason Neroni leaves Porchetta, citing “irreconcilable differences,” and claiming that pastry chef Mandy Brown and “most of the kitchen staff” are leaving with him. We don’t know the details (yet), but this seems pretty harsh: The restaurant gave him absolute creative license, as far as we can tell, for as long as it’s been open. [Eater]
Related: Chef’s Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award! [Grub Street]
New Yorkers aren’t really spooked by health violations: “If you take the subway, you know what’s down there.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The city wants Burgers and Cupcakes to take down its huge, incandescent pink cupcake sign because it’s too close to a hydrant, saying, “This isn’t a campaign against cupcakes.” [NYP]
Back of the House
Time to Fill Out Our James Beard BracketsThe nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.
The Other Critics
Bruni Meets Neroni; Another Blah Review for RamsayMaking sure to mention chef Jason Neroni’s desperate call for Beard nominations — the one revealed on Grub Street — Bruni gives Porchetta a single star and calls Neroni “overly insistent.” [NYT]
In all-tofu dessert spot Kyotofu, Meehan finds a pudding paradise. Though he issues some of the most enthusiastic praise we’ve heard from him lately, he also cautions that the savory dishes are just “perfunctory.” [NYT]
Wobbly tables don’t get in the way of Paul Adams’s appreciation of new Soho Moroccan joint Babouche. [NYS]
Cuozzo loves Pera, makes it sound as if it’s the first-ever high-end Turkish restaurant. Orhan Yegan of Divane and Beyoglu must have steam coming out of his ears. [NYP]
Sietsema rarely meets a barbecue he doesn’t like, and Brooklyn’s Smoke Joint proves no exception. The evil Cookshack smoker, condemned in our 2006 wish list, makes a cameo appearance. [VV]
Randall Lane delivers yet another approving but ultimately unenthusiastic review of the “impeccable, if clinical” Gordon Ramsay. The Brit just can’t win! [TONY]
Related: Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon