Sietsema Previews His Own ‘Choice Eats’As a leadup to tonight’s Village Voice Choice Eats tasting event, Robert Sietsema gives Gothamist a lengthy interview and a barely disguised photo. Sietsema recalls his worst restaurant experience (cockroach) and explains how Frank Bruni maligned Katz’s by only giving it one star. His picks are after the jump.
‘Scruffy Loner’ Heath Ledger Ate Solo at Grotta Azzurra
As our sister blog Daily Intel has pointed out, this week was all about Tom Brady and Eli Manning sightings, with Tom and Gisele hitting the town (what else is new?) and Eli making it a quiet week. Michael Strahan also found a moment to sip chowder (question being, was it New York or New England style?). On a somber note, the Daily News uncovered Heath Ledger’s haunts in Soho: Spring Street Natural and Miro Café among them. The sighting we were most intrigued by, however, occurred in Park City, Utah: Sirio Maccioni eschewed trendier restaurants to hit Burger King. Now there’s a Whopper freakout we’d pay to see.
The Other Critics
Barbuto Saved by a Chicken; Fiamma Comes Up ShortThe wildly uneven Barbuto earns a single star from Frank Bruni, almost entirely on the strength of a well-roasted Bell & Evans chicken. To quote Winston Churchill, “Some chicken!” [NYT]
Alan Richman was appalled by how small the portions were at Grayz, how much they cost, and how shady most of them were, except for the magnificent, world-beating short rib: “In complexity and satisfaction, this dish reminded me most of the Gray Kunz of Lespinasse, the chef we miss so much.” [Bloomberg]
Randall Lane gets that Fiamma’s Fabio Trachocchi is cooking in a grand, Continental style and doesn’t hold that against him, but the food is too rich and the service too sloppy to give him the five or six stars the place would have liked And so they have to settle for four. [TONY]
Dona Back and Cheaper Than Ever; Bowery Boys Spend Millions on West VillageBensonhurst: L&B Spumoni Gardens wants to cater your Christmas pizza dinner. [Lost City]
Dumbo: A liquor store is going in at 102 Jay Street next to Bridge Apothecary. [The Real Deal via Dumbo NYC]
Meatpacking District: Pizza Bar has closed just as Pop Burger rises. [Eater]
Midtown East: Dona returns at 206 East 58th Street … and it will be cheaper! [Restaurant Girl]
West Village: Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson have reportedly purchased the Riverview Hotel for $33 million. [Hotel Chatter via Down by the Hipster]
Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Bloomberg’s a Cookie Fiend; L.A. Resists Cupcake TrendMayor Bloomberg calls the oatmeal-raisin cookies served up at Gracie Mansion “addictive,” an opinion not shared by Giuliani, who didn’t care for the in-house baker’s sweets. [NYDN]
Fresh owner Eric Tevrow pleaded guilty to pocketing more than $1 million in sales and payroll taxes from his restaurants. [NYP]
Tickets for Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s tribute dinner at next year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival have already sold out, despite being $500 a pop. Naturally, scalpers are already reselling them on eBay. [NYP]
Massive Pop Burger Opens in Midtown; Bowery Hotel Boys Considering Jane Street?Cobble Hill: Looking for a classic cocktail at an old-school price? Sam’s Pizzeria on Court Street in Brooklyn offers “not just the Martini and Manhattan, but the Side Car, Rob Roy, Pink Lady, Black Russian, Stinger, Rusty Nail, and Singapore Sling,” for only $6.50 a pop, though keep in mind “if you order one of these, there’s no telling what kind of drink you’ll get.” [Lost City]
East Village: Patricio Sandoval has returned from a trip to Oaxaca with a cache of recipes he’s now serving in a $30 prix fixe at Mercadito East and West. (Try the chile pasilla stuffed with pork picadillo.) [Grub Street]
Midtown East: A massive new Pop Burger opened this morning at 11 a.m. [Eater]
Midtown West: The Houses of Pita at 32 West 48th Street and 24 West 46th Street have both closed, though the owner is looking to reopen in new spaces. [Grub Street]
West Village: Could Eric Goode and Sean Macpherson’s new project be a boutique renovation of the Riverview Hotel, and, if so, could downstairs tenant Armin Amiri and his club Socialista be in cahoots with the baller duo? Just a few rumors to whet your hip-hotel appetite. [Down by the Hipster]
Midtown Pop Burger Unveils Its Poppin’ Façade
The recently unveiled exterior of the soon-to-open midtown Pop Burger takes the prize. Looks good now, but wait till the backlighting! Clearly bubble wrap was the inspiration here, making it a real possibility that someone in the upstairs billiards lounge could try to pop one of those windows with a pool cue. Also slated to hit midtown in December and still in hiding in the IBM building: the first U.S. outpost of Roman mozzarella bar Obika.
First Look: Midtown’s Mega Pop Burger Readies for Opening
A few months ago we broke news that a massive new Pop Burger was coming to midtown. You can now start salivating: As these construction shots testify, the place is now set to open the week of November 26. Again, we’re looking at a triple-decker — a first floor, open from 11 a.m. till 4 a.m. for takeout and dining; a second-floor lounge with a private entrance, and a third floor with a bar and billiards room. (It’s Playland for bankers!) The bar areas will be open from 5 p.m. till 4 a.m. And yes, midtowners, there will be delivery. Just be ready for your co-workers to hate you with an undying passion when the smell of these things wafts into their cubes.
Related: Massive New Pop Burger Popping Up in Midtown
Gordo Casting Restaurateurs; Thomas Keller Feels for Celebrity ChefsGordo’s back on Fox TV for another season of Kitchen Nightmares, and he’s looking for a floundering restaurateur to belittle on national TV. [Eater]
It’s hard out there for a chef, according to Thomas Keller: “No longer are critically-acclaimed chefs allowed — as they might have been even ten years ago — to call it a day after opening a single successful restaurant. Instead, he said, food wizards like him are … expected to pen best-sellers, give lectures, judge reality TV shows and host benefits like the one he gave last night.” [NYO]
The massive, multistory Pop Burger at 14 East 58th Street will start serving baby crab cakes and grilled filet mignon in addition to burger boxes by mid-November. [Strong Buzz]
Related: Massive New Pop Burger Popping Up in Midtown
Massive New Pop Burger Popping Up in MidtownWhen Forum, an upscale lounge serving (what else?) sliders, opened a couple of weeks ago in the old Pop space, we got to wondering what was new in the Pop Burger empire. Something rather exciting, it turns out.