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The Upper West Side Arrives; Clone Restaurants Flourish

The Upper West Side is “Manhattan’s hottest restaurant neighborhood” with a confluence of good places from name chefs and anonymous but high-quality local eateries. The addition of Daniel Boulud’s new wine bar is just the icing on the cake. [NYP] If you like Peter Luger, Magnolia Bakery, or Pearl Oyster Bar, know that there are clones all over town. [TONY] The glories of hidden Queens range from an Argentine steakhouse with “insane” portions to an ancient ice-cream parlor in Jackson Heights. [NYP]

The Tragic Tales Behind ‘Top Chef’

So let’s say you somehow make it on to Top Chef or Project Runway, elbowing past the thousands of other rivals seeking to fertilize the egg of an upcoming reality-TV-show season. And let’s say you even win the contest, getting crowned Top Chef or No. 1 designer: Shouldn’t that be enough to launch a career? You would think it would be, but as Jennifer Senior’s article from this week’s issue reveals, it often isn’t — a fact we hope our own Top Chef non-winners, like our friends Joey and Lia, will remember as they return to the kitchens they knew before fame came calling. The Near-Fame Experience [NYM] Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong

End of the Line for Ureña; Rocco Admits Douche-baggery

Alex Ureña is closing Ureña and turning it into “a bistro-style eater called Pamplona.” The modern Spanish curse continues! Now Suba alone carries the banner. [Eater] Rocco DiSpirito doesn’t seem to mind being called a douche bag: “I was thinking he must have worked for me to know I'm a douche bag,” the chef tells Nina Lalli. [VV] Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag On his Top Chef blog Tony Bourdain has some wise words to console Joey: “Joey's the chef of a damn famous restaurant in New York freakin' City. The place every ambitious cook and chef hopes to work — in the big leagues. So he's already a "Top Chef" — and already a winner in my book.” [Bravo] Related: Adam Platt Finds the Moral in Last Night’s ‘Top Chef’

Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag

Top Chef contestant Joey Paulino may have been a victim of casting last night when he was eliminated instead of Howie or Hung, who both made bigger mistakes but also seem to be the show’s emerging villains. Still, the native Long Islander and executive chef of Café des Artistes saved his ire for guest judge Rocco DiSpirito. He talked to us about why his fellow Long Islander is a “douche bag”.

Great American Chef Sick; New Yorkers Enjoy Too Much Mercury

Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea, arguably the most acclaimed of all American chefs, has an advanced form of cancer but vows to beat it. [Chicago Sun-Times] A quarter of New Yorkers have elevated mercury levels in their bloodstreams. Especially those who eat fish. [NYP] It’s tough for Top Chef rivals Howie and Joey. When your life has turned into a paella whipped up by Philip K. Dick and Andrew Sullivan, it's time to move to the suburbs with a pair of chocolate Labs. [Amuse Biatch] Related: ‘Top Chef’’s Howie Tastes the Big Time, Briefly, at Gotham Bar and Grill ‘Top Chef’ Biases Finally Out on the Table

‘Top Chef’ Auditions This Sunday; Patricia Yeo Doesn’t Buy ‘No Reservations’

Do you watch Top Chef and wish it were you getting abused by Padma? Here’s your chance: Auditions are being held Sunday at Craftsteak. [Gothamist] Related: ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong ‘Top Chef’ Biases Finally Out on the Table Believe it or not, Patricia Yeo doesn’t buy the kitchen material in No Reservations, especially Catherine Zeta-Jones’s spotless whites: “She was so perfect. There was no way she could have a worked a real service.” [NYDN] Is this curtains for the Hamburglar? McDonald’s announces that they won’t market unhealthy foods to kids under 12. [NRN]

‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong

Lia Bardeen, the second New Yorker sent packing in as many weeks, was eliminated last night after the judges described her polenta dish as “mush” and “inedible.” After her elimination, she talked to us about the self-appointed villain of the show and why the kitchen at Jean Georges is more stressful than competing on Top Chef.

‘Top Chef’ Open Call Moves to Chelsea

Boerum Hill: Trader Joe’s held a parade yesterday to officially announce its Brooklyn expansion into the former Sovereign Bank building. [Brooklyn Heights Blog] Chelsea: Top Chef open call has been moved from the French Culinary Institute to Craftsteak on July 22. The hours have also been moved up and are now 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. [Eat for Victory/VV] East Village: Southeast Asian restaurant Tigerland will give up the ghost next week, so now is the time to O.D. on Thai coffee cupcakes. [Gawker] Sagaponack: Townline BBQ won’t open until July 19, but a peek at the raw wood space shows it’s ready for 'cue. [Restaurant Girl] West Village: Beatrice Inn welcomes Trekkies, as long as they don’t wear flip-flops. [Down by the Hipsters] Chumley’s owner takes a shot in the dark and declares October 1 the famed bar’s reopening date. [Villager]

‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Camille on Her Favorite Compatriot

Camille Becerra, owner of the Brooklyn restaurant Paloma, was the first hometown casualty on this season’s Top Chef. (It was what judge Tom Colicchio called “rubbery” pineapple upside-down cake that did her in.) After her elimination on Wednesday's show, she talked to us about the other contestants and her plans to open a Top Chef–inspired restaurant blocks away from Paloma this fall.

‘Top Chef”s Howie Tastes the Big Time, Briefly, at Gotham Bar and Grill

When Howie Kleinberg, after twice coming to the brink of elimination, returned last week to win a Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef, he was rewarded with a one-week internship at Gotham Bar and Grill, courtesy of the guest judge, Alfred Portale. Kleinberg, whose unremitting hostility originally endeared him to us, has gotten on swimmingly with the chef, we hear. “He’s a very likable guy,” Portale tells us. “He’s a big guy, kinda cuts a pretty wide path through the kitchen, but he shows a lot of respect and poise.”

Blue Ribbon to Conquer Columbus Circle by Mid-August

Brooklyn Heights: Montero’s earned “duty watch bar” status from the British Royal Navy when its seamen passed through Brooklyn last week. [NYT] Columbus Circle: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill should open simultaneously with Thompson Hotel’s new Six Columbus by the middle of August. [Down by the Hipster] Elmhurst: Always wanted your tacos open-face, deep-fried, and splattered with crema? Try the memelitas from Taqueria Coatzingo at 40-18 82 Street. [Gothamist] Flatiron: Tabla and Tamarind are only a few of the restaurants extending their Summer Restaurant Week menus through Labor Day. [GoNYC via NewYorkology] Fort Greene: Former Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave has left Island restaurant to prepare for a fall opening of her next project, the Speakeasy. [Eater] Harlem: Gentrification is apparently a lesser evil than filth: A Taste of Seafood restaurant relocates from dingy to spiffy new digs. [Uptown Flavor] Midtown East: Two sake masters from Japan will host a tasting that also features shochu and snacks at Sakagura next Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. [Eat for Victory/VV] West Village: Centro Vinoteca won’t be opening until the 20th or 21st at the earliest, the restaurant’s representatives say. [Grub Street]

‘Top Chef’ Heartthrob to Cook on the Bowery?

On the agenda for tonight’s Community Board 2 meeting is a liquor-license application that a one “Sam Talbot or Corp. to be formed” has filed for 312–314 Bowery, a recently renovated mixed-use building between Houston and Bleecker Streets, walking distance from the restaurant Daniel Boulud hopes to open at Avalon Chrystie Place II. It seems, in other words, that Top Chef also-ran Talbot has found a new project after moving on from Spitzer’s, his ill-fated partnership with Fat Baby owner Rob Shamlian (you’ll recall "Page Six" rumors that big-name restaurateurs lured him into a mystery project). Trouble is, a Bravo publicist tells us Talbot doesn’t know anything about the Bowery application, and the other Sam Talbot, the beloved pushcart vendor, says he doesn’t know anything about it either. Will the real Sam Talbot stand up at tonight’s meeting? Related: CB2 July agenda

‘Top Chef’ Open Call to Be Held in Soho

Astoria: French-Asian restaurant Bistro 33 serves beer, wine, sake, and cocktails now that its liquor license has gone through. [Joey in Astoria] Boerum Hill: Smith Street may be getting a McDonald’s. [Curbed] Financial District: For $10, you can add an illegal lap dance to your lunch at Cordato’s Deli. [WCBSTV] Hell’s Kitchen: Port Authority’s 7-Eleven has transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart for the remainder of July to promote the new Simpsons movie and is even selling Blue Woo Hoo! Vanilla Squishees and KrustyO’s cereal. [7-Eleven] Soho: Pinkberry open at 41 Spring Street! [Eater] Open call for the next season Top Chef will be held at the French Culinary Institute on July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. [Bravo]

Landmarc Steals More Stars; Mercat Earns First Kudos

Frank Bruni inexplicably grants a star to a restaurant with zero ambience, overdone pastas, “tame entrées,” and a “loud” room that’s “dreary at night.” Which is what Adam Platt and everybody else said about Landmarc TWC, though without granting a star for the accomplishment. [NYT] Related: Off the Mark [NYM] Landmarc somehow coaxed three of six stars out of Randall Lane, despite comparable comments on uneven food and a room filled with rebars. The wine list seems to have been the saving grace. [TONY] Mobbed Mercat gets the Paul Adams seal of approval, its first major positive review, which compares it favorably to Boqueria and praises it for special authenticity. Only the desserts are denied praise, and at that point in the review, it hardly matters. [NYS]