A taste of 2010 dining
Talk to Kim Davis, and he’ll tell you 2010 was a “dismal year” in dining. And he ought to know. After all, under the name “Wilfrid,” he publishes “Eating the Apple” an annual guide to New York dining and writes the popular food blog “At the Sign of the Pink Pig.”
And he’s not alone in that opinion. Marc Shepard, editor of the New York Journal, agreed: “It was not a great year for restaurants.” Blame it on the economy. As Shepard explains: “Most new restaurants are planned a year or more in advance. If you had been planning something a year ago, how ambitious would you have been?”
Of course, that doesn’t mean New Yorkers ate badly in 2010. After all, this is the food capital of the country (and some, might say, the world). We look back at some of the year’s highlights.
Shake Shack takeover
Die-hard fans of Shake Shack burgers and frozen custards can now get their fixes all over the city. In addition to the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, there are locations on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Theater District, and even satellite locations at Citifield and Saratoga race track. Amazingly, the lines are still long at almost all locations. New locations are also in the works: look out for Shake Shack Brooklyn, Shake Shack DC and Shake Shack Westport, Conn.
Mega-size gourmet food malls
The difficult economy has necessitated more home cooking and eating, even in a restaurant Mecca such as New York City. And a few (famously backed) food malls have built huge food malls that profit on the increased desire for fresh ingredients and prepared foods. The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English, which taking up 5,400 square feet of prime real estate with its six food stations, is diminutive compared to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Eataly, which occupies 42,500 square feet of Flatiron space. Let’s not forget Jeffrey Chodorow’s 20,000-square-foot FoodParc in the Flatiron district.
Store by day, restaurant by night
While the gourmet malls are buzzing, smaller food shops with less square footage are pulling double duty as restaurants. Torrisi, a deli-like specialty food shop with canned tomatoes on the shelves, salamis in the window and lasagna by the pound, turns into a 20-seat restaurant every night, serving an eight-course Italian American style dinner for $50. Across the river, the Chef’s table at Brooklyn Fare, a gourmet fine food shop, garnered two Michelin stars this year for its tasting menu, which costs $135 and has a two-month waiting list.
Italy, New York?
“Many of the high profile openings in the latter half of 2010 have been Italian restaurants,” observed Mr. Davis, who stays abreast of new eateries. Topping the 2010 restaurant opening buzz list were: Ai Fiori (Italian Mediterranean), Osteria Morini (Emilia Romagna), Lincoln Restaurant (contemporary Italian), Ciano (Ingredient-driven casual Italian) and Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria.
There is a new cuisine in town and it’s from the exotic location of Brooklyn. At Brooklyn Larder, there is a basket of “Brooklyn Homespun Products” that includes Mast Brother Chocolates, among other Brooklyn artisanal specialties. Those looking to take “buy local” to new heights can shop for their produce at Brooklyn Grange Farm. Charcuterie lovers can now stock up on cured meats from Brooklyn Cured, and wash them down with a bottle of Brooklyn Lager or Kombucha tea. Lobster roll fiends swear by Brooklynite Ben Sargent’s Underground Lobster Roll. And No. 7 Sub, which originated in Fort Greene, packs in the lunch crowd in the Flatiron. Don’t want to leave the Island of Manhattan? Head over to the Brooklyneer, for a taste of…Brooklyn.
More than just a morning jolt
In 2010, New Yorkers’ concept of coffee went moved way beyond the average morning jolt. Good taste is not enough. Now we want our beans freshly roasted and sourced under fair trade practices from a sustainable plantation. The growing number of Joe Coffee Bars is a testament to the trend. Ninth Street Espresso, an East Village favorite among coffee aficionados, now has three locations in the city; few patrons are lucky enough to find a seat at Everyman Coffee in the morning, and the long lines at Stumptown Coffee in the Ace hotel rival those around the corner at No.7 Sub.
Products get extremely local
Maybe New Yorkers are getting serious about reducing their carbon footprints; or maybe we’ve just finally discovered all the great food being produced in our own ’hood. This year saw the flourishing of small local specialty food products, including Cayuga pure organic flour, beans and breads; Liddabit Sweets, which makes artisanal caramel surpassing the French chocolatiers; Saxelby Cheese, a purveyor of local farmstead cheese, and Nordic Bread; which specializes in Scandinavian whole grain breads.
The big splashy openings of 2010
Ma Peche: David Chang’s midtown restaurant, the biggest space in the Momofuku collection.
Colicchio and Sons: The second reincarnation of Craftsteak with a menu features composed dishes.
Osteria Morini: Michael Whites take on Bistro food form the Emilia Romagna region.
Lincoln: Jonathan Benno’s, formerly of Per Se Fame, take on high style Italian food.
Eataly: Another jewel in the Bastianich-Batali empire.
Pulino’s Bar and Pizzaria: Award Winning chef Nate Appelman’s foray into the NYC dining scene.
Ciano: Shea Gallante, formerly of Cru, interprets simple Italian food.