NYC’s hottest spring restaurant openings

Guac is served at Stephen Starr's El Vez. Credit: Provided
Guac is served at Stephen Starr’s El Vez.
Credit: Provided

With winter officially behind us, spring is in full bloom – for proof see the budding trees, longer days, and relieved New Yorkers, only too happy to ditch their outerwear and shed some layers. And with winter’s end comes a slew of new dining possibilities – if this crop of new restaurants isn’t a positive sign of seasonal eating, really, what is? From a Philadelphia import to deluxe riverside dining to a (new) old-fashioned soda fountain, there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by that doesn’t bring a new place to try. Check out our picks for the most anticipated openings of 2014.

Recently opened:

Barchetta
Chef Dave Pasternack (Esca) brings his upscale, approachable seafood to Chelsea. Already popular is the two-flight, six-item crudo tasting ($30), but look for pasta and meat dishes as well as other seafood standouts.
461 W. 23rd St., 212- 255-7400

Baker & Co.
New to Bleecker Street, in the space inhabited by Zito’s Bakery for eight decades, is Baker & Co., where owner Elena Fabiani is keeping some old touches in her new space, including the original flooring. Executive Chef Ricardo Buitoni is at helm with a menu of seasonal Italian comfort food.
259 Bleecker St., 212-255-1234

Beautique
Steps away from the Paris Theater and Plaza Hotel in Midtown is Beautique, a new modern American with a decidedly Parisian feel. Chef Craig Hopson (formerly of Le Cirque) is in the kitchen and the super talented Charlotte Voisey has created of cocktail menu of delightfully named libations.
8 West 58th St., 212-753-1200

Black Seed Bagels
Noah Bernamoff (Mile End) and Matt Kliegman (The Smile) joined forces to deliver Black Seed to New Yorkers, deeming it a “modern-day bagel shop steeped in old-world tradition.” Fermented, glutinous dough is hand-rolled, boiled in honey and baked in a wood-burning oven and judging by the lines, these nouveau bagels might be the next cronut. The shop makes it own cream cheese but the coffee is by Stumptown.
170 Elizabeth St., 212-730-1950

El Vez
Philadelphia’s Stephen Starr, who brought Buddakan and Morimoto to the Big Apple, is making his mark on Battery Park City with the newly opened El Vez. Spacious and soulful, the downtown space will no doubt accommodate the families that live nearby, but the Mexican fare and libations will draw the Wall Street crowd and Tribeca dwellers. “Battery Park City’s dining scene is ready for innovation and excitement,” declares Starr.
259 Vesey St., 212-233-2500

Heartwood
A mini dream team, in the form of James Beard Award-winning chef Bradford Thompson, Boulanger Mark Fiorentino (formerly of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants) and Nick Mautone (formerly of Gramercy Tavern), is the force behind this new spot housed in the former Donatella space. Their focus will be on seasonal and local fare as well as house-made pizzas.
184 Eighth Ave., 212-493-5150

Huertas
Chef Jonah Miller (formerly of Maialino, Savoy, Gramercy Tavern) is serving Basque-influenced fare at this 75-seater in the Eater Village. Look for an open kitchen, wood-burning oven and rotating arrays of passed pintxos served dim-sum style in the bar area. The dining room offers a separate market-driven menu and the wine list is heavily Spanish.
107 First Ave., 212-228-4490

Il Principe
On the ground floor of the newly opened Hotel Hugo, on the cusp of the West Village and Soho, is Il Principe from restaurateur Sean Largotta (The Lion, Crown, The Windsor). The space, designed by acclaimed architect Marcello Pozzi, will feature indoor and outdoor seating, and diners should expect straightforward Italian fare from Executive Chef Carlo Bigi (Casa Lever and Sant Ambroeus).
525 Greenwich St., 212-608-1211

Sopra
Located on the second floor above sister-restaurant Amali, Sopra (which translates to “above” in Italian) features an open kitchen, communal seating and a five-course tasting Mediterranean menu that changes weekly, courtesy of Executive Chef Rachel Goulet. Sopra will offer one nightly 8 p.m. seating Wednesday through Saturday.
115 E. 60th St., 212-339-8363

Opening soon

Bacchanal
This new Euro-influenced restaurant from Dave Oz (Bathtub Gin) and Peter Poulakakos (The Dead Rabbit) has a mighty beverage program, as expected. The owners chose two industry vets to head up the cocktails and wines: Naren Young (Saxon + Parole) and Ivan Mitankin (Vintry Wine & Whiskey, Bathtub Gin). Says Poulakakos of the wine program: “While we have access to one of the largest private wine collections on the East Coast, our aim at Bacchanal is not to offer a massive wine compendium, but rather to have selections that are thoughtful and interesting without any pomp and ceremony.” (Opening in mid-May)
146 Bowery, 646-355-1840

élan
David Waltuck (chef/owner of the beloved Chanterelle) is teaming up with former Chanterelle general manger, George Stinson, to bring his contemporary French cuisine to this new restaurant in the former Veritas space. (Opening in late May).
43 E. 20th St., no phone

Pier A Harbor House
The trifecta behind Stone Street, The Dead Rabbit and Bathtub Gin are continuing to shake up downtown with Pier A Harbor House, a 28,000-square-foot food and drink destination that will include multiple bars, a restaurant, event loft space — all housed in a historic NYC landmark. (Opening in June).
22 Battery Pl., 212-344-0500

What’s new in Williamsburg?

La Nonna
The spacious — yet homey — new restaurant the folks behind La Nonna Pizzeria Trattoria Paninoteca is a showcase of chef/owner Cono Morena’s southern Italian culinary skills, but in a more upscale environment along the Williamsburg waterfront. (Now open for dinner; brunch and lunch begin in May.)
184 Kent Ave., 718-302-1100

The Gorbals
Former Top Chef Ilan Hall’s popular downtown Los Angeles concept, The Gorbals, is getting the Brooklyn treatment. The full-service restaurant is housed in the new Urban Outfitters concept store, Space Ninety 8 and will open in May.
98 N. Sixth St., 718-599-0576

Wild
The third location of this gluten-free and gluten-friendly mini chain (helmed by Miki Agrawal) found a home on Bedford Avenue. Look for a menu of wallet-friendly wines by the bottle and healthy slants on Italian classics. (Open now for dinner and brunch).
340 Bedford Ave., 347-599-0699

New spring menus

Bubby’s High Line
The Highline location of the popular pie and comfort food eatery recently launched an old-fashioned soda fountain – and a menu of homemade ice cream sodas, shakes, malts and sundaes. Bring your sweet tooth.
71 Gansevoort St., 212-206-6200

Clement in The Peninsula New York
Chef de Cuisine Brandon Kida is utilizing locally sourced ingredients in his new spring offerings. Look for local carrots, spring mushrooms, farm eggs and rabbit on the menu – and the names of the local farms Chef Kida sourced from as well.
700 Fifth Ave., 212-903-3918

Empire Diner
Amanda Freitag rolls out lunch at the bustling Chelsea eatery. While there’s no brunch service yet, grilled cheese, Freitag’s already-famous patty melt and buttermilk pancakes are served all day.
210 10th Ave., 212-596-7523

ilili Box
Helmed by Chef Philippe Massoud, ilili Box offers Eastern Mediterranean street food in a more casual style. The kiosk’s menu features to-go versions of ilili’s signature Lebanese dishes, including shwarma, pita, and salads.
Located on the Flatiron Public Plaza North at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, 646-771 4090

The Meatball Shop
This Easter, The Meatball Shop launched brunch at their Lower East Side and Upper East Side locations. While we cant promise the Bunny Balls will still be available, look for Balls Benedict and SmashBun French Toast on the menu.
84 Stanton St., 212-982-8895; 1262 Second Ave., 212-257-6121



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