Libertine, Anto, Clover Hill, Megu, Tatiana, Artie's, MORE
THE ASK • Restaurant Correspondents
FOUND is looking for writers and restaurant obsessives to file dispatches from the frontlines of area dining. The main requirement is a passion for high-end dining in NYC and surrounds; if you are not a writer per se but know what’s what, that plays here. Text messages, napkin scribbles, bulleted lists — we will take it all, as long as the intel is on target. Interested? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT FOUND • Restaurants
The beating heart of New York City
Restaurants are the beating heart of New York City, from grand dining rooms to sushi counters. FOUND is fascinated with the new, reporting regularly on just-opened spots before the rush. Just as interesting to us: places that haven’t received their just acclaim and old favorites that reward return visits.
We are obsessed with the movements that shape the dining scene, like the explosion of haute Korean restaurants and high-end omakase. And while we will spend $500 per person for an extraordinary experience, we are equally at home at an exemplary neighborhood bistro.
FOUND is as focused on the room, the vibe — the way the restaurant makes you feel — as we are the food. We’re also tracking the broader business ecosystems of restaurants and hospitality, from reservations platforms to private clubs to NFTs.
And finally, while NYC is at the center of our universe, our coverage reaches into the suburbs and weekend getaway markets (i.e., “the surrounds”).
Here now, a FOUND restaurant sampler for your late-August enjoyment.
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Libertine, an attention-grabbing bistro
Last week, sipping my second Negroni (served over a single giant ice cube) in a leather booth at bustling new French bistro Libertine in the far West Village, I looked around the dining room and realized: not one person was on their phone. Everyone at Libertine was only at Libertine — not still-kind-of-at-work, emailing; or kind-of-hanging-out-with-their-friend, texting; or taking top-down table shots for the likes.
Most of the credit for the collective focus on the moment must go to the food at Libertine — on our table: gougeres, chicken liver mousse, gnocchi Parisienne, duck two ways — all the sort of French bistro cooking that seems like it should be easy to find but somehow isn’t. The menu is hand-written daily on a chalkboard. You could call Libertine a neighborhood restaurant, but then that’s just another reason why the West Village is the neighborhood it is.
At the end of the meal, my wife and I answered “yes” in unison when asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. Three years ago, I would have suggested a final glass of wine instead of dessert. Now: Let’s have both. The rice pudding is incredible, with toasted nuts hidden on the bottom of the plate. And then the owner brings over two glasses of dessert wine, Domaine de Sau Rancio Sec, on the house. (When asked what the space had been previously: “A ‘brick oven pizza’ joint where they actually just warmed up frozen pizza in a toaster.”)
The only place we cared about on this night was this one, an early contender for restaurant of the summer. –Lockhart Steele
RESTAURANTS • First Word
Anto is Cote in a tuxedo
The Skinny: If Cote put on a tuxedo, it would be Anto. It’s the newest player in the tornado of haute Korean concepts (Naro at Rock Center, Cote and bōm in Flatiron, Seoul Salon in Koreatown) hitting NYC. It’s the work of Tony Park of QB Hospitality, whose previous spots you probably don’t know (Angelina Bakery, Antoya BBQ, Katherine Meets Toni). With Anto, he’s putting himself on the map.
The Vibe: The slim and sexy bi-floor, 60-seat restaurant sits in an East 58th Street townhouse that Park scored in deep pandemic (Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia used to be here). After an elegant overhaul, the space appears to straight-up glow. Best table: one of the three oversized plush booths (up to six guests) in the back.
Food and Drink: Seoul’s culture of high-end steakhouses that blend traditional Korean cookery with luxury Western ingredients guides Anto’s menu ($180 tasting menu with à la carte supplements available), with dishes like soy-marinated scallop with ossetra caviar, and soft shell crab tempura with Meyer lemon and pink peppercorns. And if you like to pair Burgundy wine with American Wagyu, this is your place.
The Volume: Unlike most Korean barbecues spots, it’s not boisterous here. Korean and Japanese jazz set the tone.
The Verdict: Anto should become one of the city’s hottest tickets.
RESTAURANTS • FOUND Table
Clover Hill is peak Brooklyn Heights
It’s hard to win a Michelin star and yet still feel somewhat off the radar, but such is the situation at Clover Hill, which opened in southeast Brooklyn Heights right before the pandemic. These days, the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, but it’s at night when former Eleven Madison Park and One White Street chef Charlie Mitchell — who joined the restaurant for its early 2022 reopening — gets serious.
On a spring visit, the seven-course, seafood-heavy tasting menu was a revelation, with several dishes ascending to the ethereal. The setting (refined) and vibe (unpretentious) clinch it — this one’s a keeper. After dinner, step out onto the gorgeous block, stroll up Hicks Street past Ingas Bar, and try to remember a time when there wasn’t a decent meal to be found in all of Brooklyn Heights. Book with haste. –Lockhart Steele
RESTAURANTS • FOUND Table
Behind a secret door in LIC, a haute Korean gem
In the back of Long Island City's acclaimed Korean takeout storefront, Little Banchan Shop, there's a hidden door, which opens into a dimly lit hallway, which will lead you to Meju: a grand, eight-seat room with 15-foot ceilings and a glowing-research-lab vibe, where chef Hooni Kim is turning out some of the most exciting Korean food in the city.
Kim, who earned a Michelin star at Danji and also owns Little Banchan Shop, is a master of fermentation. After being bottled up for years, all of his jangs (fermented sauces) are ready for their close up — including the 128-year-old ganjang (soy sauce), a salty, layered, dark hole of a condiment which the chef brushes onto black throat sea perch and beef tenderloin fritters. Other marvels of chemistry dazzle throughout the $185 tasting menu.
In service to the science at work, plates are refreshingly modest, not delicate or tweezered. On a recent visit, the final course was like a dream of a typical Korean home-cooked meal — a simple bowl of steamed white rice, Berkshire pork belly bathing in a 10-month-aged kimchi sauce, a sunny-side-up egg, and a plate of gim (short seaweed sheets). It may be hard to find, but Meju won’t stay hidden for long. –Kat Odell
RESTAURANTS • The Apps
Get the humble pie at Tatiana
Appointment Trader, you’ll recall, is the wild west of this re-energized market, featuring a website with a janky Y2K-era aesthetic and vague assurances that your transaction will work out just fine. (Early intel suggests that is true; it usually does work out just fine.) For my $70, I was given a screengrab of the reservation (5:30 pm, Wednesday night) from the Resy app of the gentleman who had posted it for sale.
Wednesday night, we arrived on time, bypassing a line outside the restaurant three couples deep. “We’re waiting until 6:30pm, which is when they’re taking names again,” one person told me. Which is to say, Tatiana is not struggling to fill its seats.
I girded myself and gave the hostess the name on the reservation. “Ed Tan*,” she said to me, scanning her screen and looking concerned. “You’re Ed Tan?” I felt obliged to say that I was.
“That reservation has been canceled,” she said.
“Oh wow,” I said stupidly.
She looked back at her screen. “But we do have a table for you,” she said.
Heads down, my wife and I followed another hostess to our table, which was right in the middle of the dining room.
We had an unbelievable meal. The service was impeccable, the servers clearly not having been informed of our reservation transgression. The space is classically New York City, including a new outdoor seating area on Josie Robertson Plaza that had just opened in soft-launch mode. (That night, walk-ins were getting seated out there, but it required knowing to request the patio, and rolling with a slightly smaller menu.)
On the way out, I stopped back by the check-in table. “Obviously you knew something was up with our reservation,” I said to the woman who had checked me in. “Why did you seat us?”
She smiled. “We had availability, so we seated you,” she said.
“So pure hospitality,” I said. She beamed. —Lockhart Steele
* not the actual name.
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Surviving the trip in Maplewood
The old Arturo’s in downtown Maplewood wasn’t a particularly comfortable place to eat. It didn’t take reservations, wait times often exceeded an hour, and there was an awkward vestibule where the pervading vibe was “Is my table ready yet?” The space itself was charming, but cramped, and a bit of a fishbowl. And it was BYOB. And there was nothing for dessert.
It was worth the effort, though. The food was the best in this corner of New Jersey — expertly composed and consistently delicious pizzas, pastas, and vegetables, all incorporating seasonal ingredients, many cooked in a wood-fired oven.
In May, Arturo’s announced it was closing shop and moving into an old auto body shop across town, where it would join forces with its sister-bakery, The Bread Stand, to form a new, all-day joint called Artie’s. There ensued a fraught moment when it seemed like maybe this was the end of something great.
By June, though, Artie’s was up and running, serving excellent bread, pastries, and coffee in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner in the evening. The space is much bigger, shinier, and (mercifully) less charming, with a trio of glass garage doors framing the room. (Think original Barbuto meets elevated college-town brew pub.) Out front, there’s a patio with benches and scattered lawn chairs, where one can wait for their table, order a drink from the new bar menu, and watch people navigate the parking situation.
The pizza and pastas, even the delicate seasonal vegetables, have survived the trip intact. Close your eyes and you’re still in the old space downtown, savoring that hard-won corn pie and an order of cavatelli Siciliani as a waiting family of four stares you down from the vestibule. Except at Artie’s, you can relax, maybe even take a look at the new dessert menu. The olive oil cake, it’s a winner. –Josh Albertson
→ Artie's (Maplewood, NJ) • 15 Newark Way • Open 7 days • Still no resys.
FOUND Pro, Maplewood edition: A couple blocks from Artie’s and around the corner from the old Bread Stand space, the new Porta Rossa Pasta & Provisions is making hand-made pasta, sauces, sandwiches, salads, and gelato for takeout. A recent pitch-perfect lunch: a prosciutto and fig sandwich on focaccia with a panzanella salad on the side.
And more FOUND restaurant coverage: