Grub Guide

Twenty-One Things We’re Still Looking Forward to Checking Out This Year
Pancakes at Chez Sardine. Photo: Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz/? Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz

“Best of” lists are already trickling out for 2012, but there are still almost three months left in the year, which means there are a lot of new restaurants still to come. In fact, plenty of the openings slated for the traditional fall-preview blitz haven’t even happened yet. Add to that the slew of food news that’s broken since Labor Day, and you realize there’s still a ton of amazing eating and drinking to look forward to this year. Here’s what we’re most excited about. Take a look, then let us know which spots you’re anticipating.

When you’re done here, check out what everyone’s looking forward to in Boston, Chicago, L.A., Philadelphia, and San Francisco, too.

At this point, a new Gabe Stulman spot is an annual occurence, but when they’re so consistently great, we are onboard with that. So we’re psyched for Chez Sardine, Stulman’s newest West Village spot with Fedora’s Mehdi Brunet-Benkritl in the kitchen. The team is staying pretty quiet about what exactly to expect, but when the spot opens next month, look for this dish — which the restaurant is calling breakfast pancakes with Arctic char tartare and uni sauce — to show up on the opening menu. If it’s a sign of things to come from the place, which Stulman has been saying is izakaya-inspired, we are totally down. Photo: Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz/? Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz
Critics continue to dole out stars to Mathew Lightner’s Tribeca tasting counter, and for good reason — it’s one of the most ambitious restaurants to open in a long time. The only problem: Since all of the seats are booked out weeks in advance, it’s impossible to just drop in. But when the crew opens its new downstairs bar at the end of the month, that will no longer be the case. Expect à la carte food and drinks like the Little Jug, a mixture of bourboun, lime juice wild-ginger syrup, yellow Chartreuse, and bitters.
When Tooker Alley opens in Crown Heights next week, its owners promise a drink list “without the fetishism and preciousness that abounds today.” But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few original things going on. The one we’re looking forward to: The “History of the Martini” menu, which will chart the king of the cocktails through all of its various iterations, like the Martinez #1 (Old Tom gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, orange curaçao, Boker’s bitters), the Marguerite (dry gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters), and the Monk’s Dream (dry gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, B&B, and a curaçao rinse) pictured here. 
Like everyone else, we love the Dutch and Locanda Verde, so the news that chef Andrew Carmellini is both handling the new menu at the Library at Joe’s Pub, which opens this week, and is working on a huge French bakery and bistro project in the former Chinatown Brasserie spot continues to thrill us. Times critic Pete Wells recently lamented the state of New York City’s bistros, and if anything is poised to really reinvigorate the city’s interest in French food, it’s this project, which AC’s team tells us is still on track to open before the end of the year. Photo: Bryan Bedder/2009 Getty Images
The cold weather isn’t so bad when you realize how much better ramen tastes in the fall. Luckily, there is at least one name-brand noodle-maker, the just-opened Ganso in Downtown Brooklyn, a second Ippudo location, and a second Totto Ramen in midtown on the horizon. 
New York’s restaurant lovers weren’t happy when Chris Cannon closed Convivio and Alto way back in March of 2011. But the good news is that later this fall, he’ll be back with All’Onda near Union Square. It doesn’t sound as though the place will be a big departure for Cannon. The name should tell you that the venture will again be upscale Italian and the chef will be Chris Jaeckle, who used to work for Cannon’s former business partner Michael White at Ai Fiori.
While Chris Cannon works on All’Onda, Michael White’s got plenty going on, too. His Altamarea group is opening both Ristorante Morini, an upscale Italian spot on the Upper East Side, and the Butterfly, a Wisconsin-inspired spot that will service both cheffed-up chopped steak and awesome-sounding, out-there drinks from Eben Freeman. Two examples: a mineral martini made with “slate-cured” vodka, and Freeman’s version of a boilermaker (pictured) — pumpernickel Scotch with a raisin shandy.
Pretty much everyone loves Harold Dieterle’s spots — Perilla and Kin Shop — and the latest spot, the Marrow, sounds like another people-pleaser. When it opens in the West Village — the team aims for next month — expect ambitious dishes like roasted squab breast with foie gras and agrodolce. 
Danji chef (and Asian hipster cuisine specialist) Hooni Kim says he’s still on track to open his new spot Hanjan in November, and the more we hear about it, the more excited we get. The latest: Kim is importing traditional Korean alcohol that won’t be familiar to most New Yorkers, such as makgeolli, a cloudy, unfiltered rice beer. It should go great with food, like the spicy octopus pictured here.
Yes, there will be margaritas at El Toro Blanco, the new Sixth Avenue Mexican spot from John McDonald, Josh Pickard, and Josh Capon. But the Robusto – cigar-tobacco-infused dark rum, Angostura, and a smoked-tobacco glass — sounds way more interesting. Bloomberg is going to hate this.
Given the success that West Coast chefs have had in New York lately, we’re inordinately looking forward to Krescendo, the new Italian spot from Elizabeth Falkner, a chef whom you’ll no doubt recognize from her many Food Network stints. (The restaurant’s antipasti platter is pictured here.) Unlike some of her network colleagues who open restaurants in, say, Times Square — we’re looking at you, Guy Fieri — Falkner decided to open her first New York spot on the border of Boerum Hill, meaning she’s probably serious about appealing to more than just tourists.
He was the chef at Frej, Brooklyn’s most successful pop-up-ish place, but according to reports, he’ll be opening his own place with Eamon Rockey (late of Atera) this fall. This is one opening we wouldn’t be surprised to see get pushed into 2013, but one way or the other, the spot’s success (or failure) should settle once and for all whether New York is ready to fully embrace the New Nordic aesthetic.
If this list hasn’t made it clear already, it’s boom times for drink-lovers. Another spot getting in on it: the Third Man from the Edi & the Wolf team. The spot, which which will be right up Avenue C from Edi when it opens in a few weeks, will serve Austrian small places and cocktails like the Franz Ferdinand, made with Aperol, beet, blood orange, Grüner Veltliner, and Prosecco. 
There’s a metaphor in here somewhere: After Fatty ‘Cue’s Williamsburg location closed because of structural damage last January, the group’s UWS Fatty Crab also closed, and Fatty’s face, Zak Pelaccio, apparently decamped for the Hudson Valley. But now, Pig & Khao is a hit, and this month, the Williamsburg ‘Cue is slated to reopen in its original location. We hope it means a reversal of fortune for all things Fatty.
Around this time last year, the city was anticipating serious smorrebrød — casual, open-faced sandwiches — from Copenhagen’s Aamanns. A year later, the place still isn’t open, but signs outside, and a quick check-in with the restaurant’s rep, give us hope that we might really be eating things like the beef tartare shot pictured here soon — even if they’re being understandably coy about a firm opening date.
Another holdover from last year, Michael Lomonaco’s Center Bar actually is open, and we’re as interested to check it out now as we were before. Where else but the Time Warner Center can you eat caviar or the braised pork belly you see here — in what amounts to the middle of a mall — overlooking Central Park?
The M. Wells Dinette in PS1 has only been open for a week and a half, and already plans for horse-meat tartare have been pushed aside. No matter, really: Hugue Darfour’s crazy-inspired food is better when it’s in full-on gonzo mode, anyway. And this lunch spot will sate us while we wait for the team’s steak house to open next year.
As the Underground Gourmet points out in this week’s New York, the Maharlika team’s motto for their new restaurant is “Beers, food, women, and jeeps,” which, yeah, sure. We’re most excited for the halo halo, which is the traditional Filipino dessert you see here, and the longga burger, topped with Kewpie-Maggi aïoli, a condiment that must have been concocted during some sort of Flavor Ammo fever dream.
If Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale — two of the people behind dell’anima, Anfora, and L’Artusi — are opening a new Italian restaurant, you know people will be there in droves. The latest, L’Apicio on 1st Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue, promises to be no different when it opens in the next few weeks.
Masaharu Morimoto’s Chelsea Market restaurant is practically a New York staple at this point — it opened waaaay back in 2006 — so it’s exciting to hear that the Iron Chef is heading down to Tribeca Canvas and broadening his horizons and taking on American comfort food (macaroni and cheese) or even Spanish, like the shellfish-and-rice dish pictured here.
By now, you know what’s happening: The Torrisi guys, newly armed with a Michelin star, will turn the Rocco space on Thompson Street into Carbone, their modern version of old-school red sauce joints. Call it blasphemous if you will — Rocco’s, after all, was a red-sauce joint — but this is a style of restaurant that is aching for a 21st-century makeover. If the group’s first restaurant is any indication, they’re up to the task.
Twenty-One Things We’re Still Looking Forward to Checking Out This Year