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New and Noteworthy Restaurants April (Photo: Courtesy of Tessa)

Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants: April 2014

A month "taxed" with a slew of newbies

As cherry blossoms unfolded and the city’s Greenmarkets became more bountiful, the city was reborn with restaurants in April. Downtown saw a lot of action, with openings in some of Manhattan’s southernmost stretches, while wine bars signaled a hot comeback for quality pairings. Here is the cream of early spring’s new crop:

Barchetta
After 14 years as the fisherman king of Esca, chef Dave Pasternack now casts a wider net with a Chelsea trattoria specializing in Italian seafood. Barchetta is Italian for boat, from which most of the menu comes. Esca fans will be delighted that Pasternack’s signature crudo made it on the menu, about a dozen of them, from bluefish with caperberry leaves ($18) to sea trout with sundried tomato ($18). Follow the wake with fusilli with surf clam and Calabrian chili ($22) or a nice whole grilled local porgy ($26). 461 W. 23rd St., 212-255-7400, barchettanyc.com

 

Beautique dining room

Dining room at Beautique (Photo: Courtesy of Beautique)

Beautique
Yet another quality opening puts the 57th Street area on the map as the new, chic food destination. Here, former Le Cirque chef Craig Hopson evokes Americana with French technique, from classics such as Waldorf salad with smoked trout ($16), to the creative, such as crab flan with crispy pork belly and malt caramel ($18). The design vibe? All Coco Chanel. 8 W. 58th St., 212-753-1200, beautiquedining.com

Black Seed
Is the bagel poised to become the next Cronut? You’d think so after seeing the lines snaking out of this new NoLita nosh shop, courtesy of the Mile End Deli team. Here, New York’s high holey bread ($1.50) is hand-rolled and boiled in honey water (a Montreal tradition, roots of owner Noah Bernamoff), before finished in a wood oven. Gourmet garnishes include a tobiko cream cheese schmear ($4.50) and beet-cured lox ($8). A second location is already set to open at the World Financial Center next month. 170 Elizabeth St., 212-730-1950, blackseedbagels.com

 

Ceviche at El Vez

Ceviche at El Vez (Photo: Courtesy of El Vez)

El Vez
The tequila (150 of them) has already started flowing in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo at this Battery Park Mexican from restaurateur Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto, Caffe Storico). Like its 10-year-old Philadelphia twin, it’s all about options with various takes on guacamole (classic, $14; with goat cheese, chile, pistachio and roasted tomato, $16; or with mango bell pepper, jicama, habanero and Serrano, $15). Even the “holy mole,” a tasting of three distinct selections with lamb, chicken and pork ($25), offers variety. Like the Philadelphia original, there’s a photo booth, especially fun after a few margaritas. 259 Vesey St., 212-233-2500, elveznyc.com

 

Table at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Table at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (Photo: Courtesy of La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels)

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
The stars come out as the Experimental Cocktail Club gains a wine-focused sibling in the form of a popular Parisian wine bar just off Kenmare Square. The wines are selected by the sommelier from three Michelin-starred Auberge Du Vieux Puits in the south of France; the equally stellar menu comes from Armand Arnal, of the Michelin-starred La Chassagnette in Arles. With a list of 600 sippers, there’s an endless array of pairings to go with sardines and grainy mustard, lemon juice, pickled pearl onions ($11); the DLT, duck confit, chimichurri sauce and greens ($13); and a perfect pot de crème with berries ($7). 249 Centre St., 212-343-3660, compagnienyc.com

 

Morrell

Bird’s-eye view of Morrell (Photo: Courtesy of Morrell)

Morrell Wine Bar and Café
A Rock Center wine attraction for 67 years returns with a fresh new look. With one of the largest lists by the glass (150) and a vault keeping some of the rarest bottles in the world, Morrell also has an extensive food menu, from a light duo of tartars (tuna with soy; Scottish salmon with black truffle and chives, $19) to a substantial rack of lamb ($34). It’s also the only retailer in the city that has a wine bar, so if you like what you taste, pop to the adjacent shop and bring a bottle home. 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-262-7700, morrellwinebar.com

Racines
Another Parisian offshoot, this one in TriBeCa, claims to be New York’s first “neo-bistro.” What that means? We have no idea, but it includes a Michelin-starred chef, Frederic Duca, also imported from Paris; a preponderance of natural, organic and biodynamic wines; and bites such as veal tartare with tarragon and pine nuts ($18) and Mangalitsa pork with pigs feet croquettes ($31). 94 Chambers St., 212-227-3400, racinesny.com

Sopra
It was due time for a bona fide restaurant to take advantage of the pop-up and underground dinner culture, and the Upper East Side’s Amali does just that with a separate, communal second-floor dining room. One seating nightly, Wednesday through Saturday, is served family-style, with a five-course menu ($95) that changes weekly. The sociable spread could consist of braised beef osso buco or whole roasted porchetta from executive chef Rachel Goulet. It’s all very communal and civilized, complete with cocktail hour before feasting. 115 E 60th St., 2nd floor, 212-339-8363, sopranyc.com

Tessa
The Hudson River breezes on the Upper West Side feel a little gentler, and a little warmer, thanks to the arrival of Cedric Tovar, who moves uptown after acting as a consulting chef in the Village (Bobo, Rosemary’s). His Mediterranean menu features seaside favorites such as razor clam escabèche with piperade and toasted marcona almonds ($14), and swordfish with citrus and caper gremolata ($31). 349 Amsterdam Ave., 212-390-1974, tessanyc.com

 

Tavern on the Green

South Wing of Tavern on the Green (Photo: Courtesy of Tavern on the Green)

Tavern on the Green
Perhaps it was a premonition: The 1999 remake of The Out of Towners was filmed at Tavern on the Green; 15 years later, it took a pair of out-of-towners to remake the NYC landmark, which closed in 2009. Philadelphia restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama brought in lauded local chef Katy Sparks, whose NYC culinary history reaches back to the legendary Quilted Giraffe. Sparks’ menu honors many local traditions, with dishes such as the smoked and cured fish plate of smoked Scottish salmon, wild western Nova and pickled herring ($26), and meat from renowned Upper East Side butcher Lobel’s, showcased in dishes such as heritage breed pork chop ($28). 67th St. and Central Park West, 212-877-8684, tavernonthegreen.com

For more new and notable restaurants:
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants March 2014
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants February 2014

Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants January 2014
The Keepers: The Most Promising Restaurant Openings of 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants November 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants October 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants September 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants August 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants July 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants June 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants May 2013
Top 10 New and Noteworthy Restaurants April 2013

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