Sure, summer conjures up visions of sippin’ Chianti at a café in Rome on the “Due de la something or other”, but for those of you staying local this season, there’s no reason you can’t have a little “joie de vivre”. Book a table at these trendy new eateries on this side of the pond.
Due: The Northern Italian eatery is a “second act” for Chef Chris Tarta (also of Bella Campagna in Hillsdale), set in the old Bluefish space by the Ridgewood train station. With a sleek new redesign (subtle gray hues, modern fixtures and a chill bar at the rear), and starters like “Wood Grilled Figs with Gorgonzola and Bacon” and “Midollo- Roasted marrow, with Italian flat leaf parsley & capers, served with toasted Ciabatta”, our curiosity was piqued. But we really fell in love with the creations out of the resto’s word burning oven: entrees like chicken, steak and fish served simply “alla griglia”. (Entrées start at $23, Due, 18 E Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, 201-857-3232, BYO, reservations required)
Grange: The collab between veteran chef Christine Nunn (formerly of Picnic in Fair Lawn) and restaurateur Brian Powell is a match made in foodie heaven. Tables of reclaimed wood and vintage wood beamed ceilings create a cozy, warm, highly stylized space and set off the sleek food presentation of their modern take on American classics. Decadent “nibbles” like Deviled Eggs and Chicken Liver Pate and a Gruyere Cheese Fondue served with Apples, Baguettes and Duck and Boar Sausage were so tasty and satisfying we reconsidered our main course order, but the lemony Seared Diver Scallops and Saltine Crusted Chatham Cod served with Forbidden Rice assured us we could find room for more. (Entrees from $28, Grange, 31 Westwood Avenue, Westwood, 201-497-3788 BYO, reservations required)
Belotta at 42: Our favorite food for sharing? Tapas. And we fell in love with the extensive Spanish offerings from Belotta at 42 The Restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Hotel White Plains. A quick hop across the Tappan Zee gets you crowd-pleasers like Octopus Crudo with a Chickpea Yogurt, “Bocadillas” filled with the likes of Chicken and Figs or Pork, Avocado, and Oaxacan Cheese, and Torched Baby Lamb Chops with a Mustard Sauce. Start with a pitcher of Sangria, take in the view and the DJ spun tunes and you’ve got a formula for a great eve. (Tapas start at $12, Belotta at 42 The Restaurant, Ritz Carlton Westchester in White Plains, 914-761-4242, reservations recommended)
Cherry NYC: If you were a lover of BondSt back in your city days (and let’s face it, who wasn’t), you will adore Jonathan Morr’s newest French Asian restaurant/supper club located in the Dream Hotel on W16th. Cherry, aptly named for its crimson hued dining room and lounge, serves up the quality sushi you would expect from a BondSt alum along with a full Sake menu (and a Sake Sommelier on hand for questions) plus signature cocktails. Munch on Tuna with Crispy Rice, Tuna Tacos, and Miso Glazed Sea Bass while you cozy up to your crew in one of the velvet ensconced booths. Then finish off with the Green Tea Meltdown, which will definitely leave an impression. (Entrees from $22, Cherry NYC, 355 W 16th St, NYC, (212) 929-5800, reservations recommended)
Dining Editor Carla Sullivan is the founder of MiniMunchers.com, an online resource for families dining in NYC, she is also a mom of three living in Ridgewood.