Three hot new places in classic spaces
Cecchi's, Sartiano's, Superiority Burger, downtown lunches, 4pm meetings, vintage posters, more
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Fishing for corn cob gelato in a sea of sameness
Live in New York City long enough, and eventually every place is taking the place of something that was there before. Something, more likely than not, that someone — perhaps you — even loved.
I didn’t love Cafe Loup, the classic, threadbare bar/restaurant on West 13th Street, as much as some of my friends did. But I always liked stopping in, especially on the nights that were just martinis at the bar. (One thing that could always be said about Cafe Loup: the bartenders were magnificent.) Cafe Loup closed in 2018, seized by the city for back taxes.
This past Saturday, I stepped into the old Cafe Loup space, reborn earlier this month as Cecchi’s, named for its new proprietor and (maître d') Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. The space has been punched up, the colors darker, the barstools shining. The room was alive, with Cecchi-Azzolina working his way from table to table, greeting his guests. The menu, however, did not excite, and, quite tragically, neither did the martinis.
A few nights earlier, down in Soho, a similar experience at Sartiano’s. There, club impresario Scott Sartiano has taken over the longtime Mercer Kitchen space. To his credit, fans of the Mercer Kitchen will appreciate the preservation of that dining room’s bones. As at Cecchi’s, the place was rocking. But the menu here also disappointed. A sea of sameness pervades the food at both places — bistro stalwarts, big steaks and seafood, and the like. This is not food to get excited about, at least not in the middle of summer.
Also this past weekend, a visit, finally, to the new Superiority Burger on Avenue A in the old Odessa space. It’s as good as everyone says, and somehow the room’s been elevated into something even more essentially New York — casual, electric, supremely itself. Proprietor Brooks Headley heard us reminiscing about Odessa and told us he believes the choice of tenant here came down to his restaurant or a Chase bank. Score one for NYC, and for a restaurant unlike any other. Oh, and order the corn cob gelato and apricot tart at all costs. –Lockhart Steele
→ Cecchi’s (Greenwich Village), 105 West 13th St. (between 6-7th Aves.), Resy
→ Sartiano’s (Soho), 99 Prince St. (at Mercer), Resy
→ Superiority Burger (East Village), 119 Avenue A (between E. 7th-St. Marks), no reservations except for the just-opened private-ish dining room that comprises the former bar waiting space
→ There’s a new haute burger in town, from Chef Austin Johnson at One White Street (Tribeca, above). Now open for lunch service with a hyper-seasonal a la carte menu, its decadent double decker cheeseburger is utterly flawless, dry-aged with a blue cheese funk. It’s served with crispy potatoes and herb aioli. –Lee Pitofsky
→ Speaking of lunch, Estela (Nolita) is adding Friday lunch service, starting this Friday, July 21, joining the existing Saturday and Sunday lunch services at Ignacio Mattos’s first NYC hit.
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Café Chelsea, new bistro in the former fishing tackle shop space at Hotel Chelsea • Crown Shy/Saga team planning new restaurant on Park Ave. South ‘paying tribute to Grand Central Oyster Bar’ • Dead Rabbit team opening new fancy cocktail bar at Penn Station • Illustrated restaurant menus are back • Leventhal’s unifying theory of restaurants.
RESTAURANTS • The Nines
Summer associate lunches, below 23rd
Le Gratin (Wall Street), boldface Daniel Boulud bistro in The Beekman
Balthazar (Soho), McNally’s enduring classic brasserie
Lure Fishbar (Soho), curtained private dining area, if you must
Le Coucou (Soho), pure French sophistication
Sadelle’s (Soho), the fanciest way to eat bagels & lox
Thai Diner (Nolita), sensational Thai food in homey digs
Au Cheval (Tribeca), down an alleyway to a legendary burger
Casa Mono (Gramercy), longtime beloved elevated tapas spot
Gramercy Tavern (Gramercy, above), tavern up front, dining room in back
For lawyers and bankers celebrating the season, or anyone in search of a civilized midday meal downtown. See also our Above 23rd Nines. Hit reply or email firstname.lastname@example.org with additions and subtractions.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Object
On the scent in Paris
I love the Mad et Len “potpourris,” which are made out of either lava rock or amber resin. You drop a few beads of the scented oil into the rocks, which infuse the room without being overwhelming (my favorite: Spirituelle, with notes of mint and basil). It's all handmade in the Alps, in small batches, and arrives in a blackened iron sculpture (also) handmade by their blacksmiths.
I gift them to all my interior design clients at the end of a project. Not only do they smell amazing, they look so much nicer than a candle. Every time I'm in Paris, I buy a bunch of them, along with a cheap suitcase, to bring home with me, tax-free. –Kaitlin McQuaide
→ Shop: Pot Pourri Mineral Totem, Mad et Len, €198
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: Gear boutique Westerlind relocates to E. Houston St. • Rosemary Home opens on 9th Street • Court 16, new membership racquet club, opens in Wall Street • Chinatown’s Yu & Me books after the fire • The roomy, vertical-stripe button-up is the shirt of the year.
WORK • Meetings Report
Wither the work day?
In a report last week, consulting firm McKinsey predicted that 2030 office occupancy in big cities would be down 13% from pre-pandemic levels. That’s bad news for the commercial real estate market, and maybe for big cities. It’s also bad news for the 4 p.m. meeting, which, per this WSJ piece, is already under siege, a victim of remote work and changing attitudes toward flexible schedules.
In a recent, one-month sample of Microsoft Teams software usage, the share of virtual and in-person meetings scheduled between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. was down 7% from a year earlier, despite widespread office returns.
Only diligent, bill-by-the-hour accountants and lawyers use Microsoft Teams, so the decline is probably greater.
Is this bad? Some bosses are worked up because they can’t track their employees in the late-afternoon. Some meeting aficionados are also worked up because it’s more difficult to “Find a Time” for that 10-person check-in on the deliverables progress.
Fair. But the workday is a construct and meetings are often called purely in service of that construct. Strip away the workday, and all that’s left is the work, which still needs to get done.
There is a solution for the dogged meeting scheduler, which Maria Banach, a pharmaceutical operations director, summarized for the Journal: “Do it in the morning and never on Friday.”
NYC WORK LINKS: New REBNY report says Manhattan office occupancy actually quite stong • Architecture firms’ workforce is flat while revenues grow • Medical offices a hidden healthy gem in NYC market • Microsoft moves into new NYC office near Union Square following $100m redevelopment • A typology of unwanted Manhattan office buildings • What is takes to be in the top 1%, state by state.
WORK • Tuesday Routine
Into the frying pan
MARC FORGIONE, chef/owner, Respect Hospitality (Peasant, Restaurant Marc Forgione, One Fifth)
Neighborhood you work in: Tribeca, Nolita, Greenwich Village
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
Tuesdays I wake up around 6:30 and have breakfast with my son Sonny and wife Kristen. Sometimes Sonny helps me make the eggs. I ride the scooter to school with him around 8:15, and then walk 3-4 miles without my phone along the West Side Highway. Then I come home around 9:30 am, shower, check emails, and go to one of the restaurants.
What’s on the agenda for today?
It changes every week, but we're in the process of construction on the new location for Restaurant Marc Forgione, so we usually have a catch-up call on updates for the space (scheduled to open in the fall). Or sometimes I'll have calls about our other restaurants: One Fifth and Peasant. I also enjoy stopping at local spots like Greenpoint Fish Market or Chelsea's Farmers Market to find what's in season to use at home or one of the restaurants. Once I head into one of my restaurants, I usually spend most of the time in the kitchen, either testing new recipes or helping the team prep for the rest of the week.
What’s for lunch?
I'm constantly tasting things throughout the day, so I don't really have lunch at a normal time like most people. If I'm on the go, I like to stop at Sullivan Street Bakery for a pastry or sandwich. At the restaurant, I'll have a bit of family meal with the team around 3 or 4 pm, depending on which restaurant I'm at. If we're lucky, my pastry chef Jami will put out a dessert that she's testing or made extra of.
Any plans tonight?
Usually I'm working at one of the restaurants but I try to leave at a decent hour so I can see my son before he goes to sleep. I'm lucky to have amazing chefs working for me at all three locations so I know the restaurants are in great hands once I leave. On the rare night out, I love stopping by Frying Pan for rosé and a lobster roll with my wife (it's where we got engaged!).
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PROMPTS, all three new this week:
Where are the best private dining rooms for business dinners?
What’s the best place for sushi in the vicinity of MSG?
Which is the best beach for day trips from NYC?
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