The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’The Times, touching on a story Grub Street broke when Moses was in short pants, had a big feature on the dearth of experienced pitmasters Sunday, pegged on GS pal Big Lou Elrose of Wildwood. The piece marvels at the quick ascent of Big Lou from working an Ozone Park lunch wagon to his current post, but in fact, Elrose’s bones were made as Adam Perry Lang’s right hand man in competition; the lunch wagon was just a lark. Still, the city’s top pitmasters are as baffling to food writers as they are to the general public. Their job is hard to understand, because nothing they do happens while customers are present to observe. The pitmaster’s art is exercised in the dead night, in secrecy and silence, and outside observers rarely get any glimpse of what it involves. There is one factor that never changes, though, and will always separate real pitmasters from merely titular ones.
Havana Chelsea, R.I.P.; Pigs Feet Run Amok in West VillageChelsea: Havana Chelsea, one of the city’s top cubano sandwich spots, is no more. It will be replaced by Casa Havana. [Eat for Victory]
Flatiron: Hampton Smoker blogger and barbecue savant Matt Fisher will be the pitmaster at Wildwood BBQ [White Trash BBQ]
Lower East Side: ZoZos, Pizzeria De Santos give up the ghost. It’s a noodle bar town now. [American Madness]
Related: Happy Valley Owners to Launch Pizza Empire
Red Hook: Layla’s, the replacement for the late, lamented Lillie’s, is coming along. [Citysearch]
SoHo: Provence has instituted happy hour, with $8 champagne and, more to the point, $2 oysters. [Strong Buzz]
West Village: It’s all about pig feet at Hakata Tonton: “It’s as if chef/owner Himi Okajima watched the Bubba scene in Forrest Gump one day and replaced all mention of the word shrimp with pigs feet. Tonsoku carbonara, tonsoku rice ball, tonsoku consommé, sweet and sour pork with tonsoku…” [Gothamist]