Sushi Zen Closes Amid Plans to Reopen with 3 Times the Space

image.jpgMidtown staple Sushi Zen first opened its doors in 1983, when sushi was still considered an adventurous choice for Times Square dining. In the years since, more and more upscale sushi restaurants have joined the scene, and raw fish has fully entered the mainstream (arguably ushering in the next-wave poke trend). Sushi Zen, run by head chef Toshio Suzuki, nevertheless remained a favorite, earning some celebrity chef fans like Michael Anthony and training others like Masaharu Morimoto in the traditional Edomae style of sushi making.

Now, Sushi Zen has shut down operations at it’s original location at 108 West 44th. There were plans in the works to reopen three blocks north at 114 West 47th Street, a move predicted as early as March of last year, with a new space significantly larger at 6,500 square feet. It now looks like that new space will not pan out.

Although New Yorker’s may now balk at paying more than $25 for their sushi entree, Sushi Zen was a staple that consistently earned high marks from critics.

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Batali and Bastianich’s La Sirena Now Open


Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, the team behind Babbo Ristorante and Lupa Osteria Romana in the West Village, has finally opened their latest project after a series of delays. The new restaurant is La Sirena, and it’s being billed as a modern Italian trattoria, falling somewhere between the casual Lupa and and upscale Babbo. 

La Sirena is located in the Maritime hotel in Chelsea, in a huge space with both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu features a wide selection of antipasti and main courses like spicy octopus and braised beef short rib, but Batali and Bastianich still expect pasta to be one of the biggest sellers.

For now the restaurant is only open for dinner, but lunch, brunch and breakfast are also in the works.

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Bottle & Bine Opens in Midtown

Atlantic Halibut 2-1.jpgThe much-anticipated New American restaurant Bottle & Bine opened last week on second avenue, and so far the reviews have been positive – lauding the female trio responsible for their original menu and strong craft beer and wine lists.

That trio includes chef Angie Berry, formerly of Asiate at The Mandarin Oriental, sommelier Gina Goyette (The Mark Restaurant by Jean Georges) and beer director Carolyn Pincus (Stag’s Head). Berry’s menu ranges from traditional French to southern, with dishes like Game Bird Terrine with foie gras and quince and Wagyu steak with sunchoke, coffee and mushrooms. Goyette’s wine list emphasizes local wine producers over traditional European selections, and there is a rotating selection of craft beers on 16 taps selected by Pincus. As indicated by the restaurant’s name (bine refers to a creeping plant like hops), both Goyette and Pincus get equal billing next to Berry’s dishes, and both bars in the multi-level space are sure to get plenty of use.

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El Atoradero Opens in Brooklyn


In 2014, Underground Gourmet ranked chef Lina Chavez’s El Atoradora taqueria their best “Cheap Eats” Mexican restaurant, and locals have been flocking to the Bronx spot for years for the delicious carnitas, fresh salsa and daily specials, all served next to favorite bodega offerings. Brooklynites now have their own version to look forward to, with a lot more elbow room and a full bar to boot. El Atoradora Brooklyn is now open at 708 Washington Avenue.

The restaurant is currently in soft-open mode, so only wine and beer will be available for now and the menu is still limited. But guests can look forward to Chavez’s albondigas enchipotladas (meatballs in chipotle sauce), Pueblan-style chalupas, and an assortment of tacos and quesadillas on handmade tortillas. If the open kitchen doesn’t get your mouth watering, you’ll also be able to wash all that down with a range of Mexican spirits, from the expected tequilas and mezcals to the less familiar but equally delicious racilla. And expect a mean margarita as well, if pictures and reputation are anything to go by.

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Pomme Frites asks for Help

PommesFritesThe beloved belgium fries shop Pomme Frites is getting ready to reopen in its new location on MacDougal St. Pomme Frites was a victim of the 2nd Avenue fire this past March. While this fry shop was a legendary fries shop in the St. Marks area, fry lovers are anticipating the shop’s return. In attempts to quickly reopen the shop, the owners Omer Shorshi and Suzanne Levinson are asking for donations to help buy fryers, fridges and appliances needed to make their famous fries and sauces. While the original location was insured, the equipment is dated from 1996 when the store first opened that claims won’t be enough to cover new appliance costs and legal claims are a slow process.

Pomme Frites are estimating a goal of $64,000 in equipment funds. A total of 180 people have donated so far at an average of $10 which is slightly 10 percent of the full goal. Pomme Frites is giving vouchers to those that donate for an order of fries with three toppings, something that would sell for $9 at the old shop, so it essentially allows people to pre-pay their first order of fries. Shorshi and Levinson are hoping to reopen the shop by October and are constantly asking for their beloved followers to donate.

To read more on Pomme Frites, click here

Rebelle Launches on Lower East Side

The chef of Paris’ revolutionary Spring, Daniel Eddy, has returned to the States to open Rebelle with Pearl & Ash’s uber-successful wine director, Patrick Cappiello.  The duo see the bistronomy trend that bubbled up in the Parisian restaurant scene as the major inspiration for Rebelle–particularly given Eddy’s involvement in Spring, which helped usher in the movement in Paris.

The pair have opened a restaurant that pairs serious food with a casual setting–exploring French classics in a modern way.  For example, beet bourguignonne made with salt-baked beets in place of beef, and leek vinaigrette with soft-boiled egg, Dijon, and leek ash.  Cappiello is running the wine program with gusto; the list has 1,500 French and American labels.  Per Se and Guy Savoy alum Jessica Yang is running the pastry department and churning out grand finales such as rhubard, lemongrass, and vanilla in various textures.

Brooklyn-based hOmE, which is responsible for many of the austere, beautiful dining rooms around town such as Mast Brothers, Black Seed, and Telepan Local, designed the space with an emphasis on marble, custom textiles, and simplicity.  The dining room features a chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen, and a bar with a separate snack menu and cocktails from master mixologist, Eben Klemm.

Rebelle is now open.  To read more, click here.

Per Se Alums Open Fine-Casual Hawaiian

Chef Chung Chow, Jin Ahn, and Gerald San Jose all met while working for Thomas Keller at the New York City fine dining institution, Per Se.  However, they’re no longer dabbling in French or American classics.  The trio has moved on to open a Noreetuh: a 42-seat, upscale-casual restaurant in the Eat Village focused on Japanese, Korean, and Filipino cuisines and where those three meet–Hawaiian.

Jin Ahn has assembled an impressive wine list with an emphasis on Burgundy and Bordeaux, but has kept the selection largely under $150.  Chow’s cooking reflects his upbringing in Hawaii and Japan with such dishes as pork croquettes, garlic shrimp over sticky rice, and crispy mochi waffles.  The menu is priced between $5 and $22, reinforcing the current trend of the return of casual dining, albeit with a fine-dining tweak.

To read more about Noreetuh, click here.