Here, a sampling of NYC’s hottest spots for post-show noshing.
This story first appeared in the September 10, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Though it’s located on a snazzy stretch of Spring Street with a clientele to match, Fiamma (which means “flame” in Italian), throws off the warmth of a much-beloved little neighborhood spot. Diners are encouraged to linger over their meals, carry on enthusiastic conversations with neighboring tables and stay as long as they’d like — within reason of course.
The New York Observer’s Moira Hodgson wrote that Fiamma “is like one of those Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy that tourists drive miles to get to for that one blow-out meal of the trip.” No surprise, since the menu’s rife with olive oils, cheeses and seafood not usually found outside of Italy. “Less is more” said executive chef Michael White, about his philosophy toward Italian cuisine. “It’s important to let the ingredients stand on their own rather than turn them into something they are not.” Along this vein, the fish entrées, which are often just brushed with olive oil, herbs and lemon and then grilled, are standouts. Especially recommended: the grilled orata, a sort of Meditteranean sea bass, served in a rosemary-scented Manila clam broth ($25). Signature antipasti include capesante, sautéed sea scallops served with baby artichokes and wild mushrooms in a truffle vinaigrette ($14) and polipo, grilled octopus served with chickpeas ($12). For carb fiends, there’s ricotta cheese tortelli with asparagus tips ($18) and garganelli, hand-made pasta quills with San Daniele prosciutto, peas and truffle butter ($23). Finish with a seasonal selection of the freshest sorbetti ($10), with the current flavors being white peach, pineapple, lemon and strawberry. Fiamma, 206 Spring St., (212) 653-0100.
At first glance, Lower East Side newcomer Azul Bistro might not seem like a typical fashionista stomping ground, with its understated decor and hearty Argentinian fare. Think again.
Maybe it’s yummy dishes like grilled chorizo sautéed with green apples and shallots, crispy sweetbreads and melt-in-your-mouth steak frites with chimichurri sauce that have drawn notables like Michael Musto and Victoria’s Secret model Inez Rivero.
Situated on the corner of Stanton and Suffolk, the only restaurant on this swiftly gentrifying block delivers plate after plate of authentic Argentinian cuisine. Appetizers include an earthy red and yellow beet and avocado salad tossed with hardboiled eggs and an herbal cream dressing ($8); scallops ceviche served with Peruvian potatoes, peppers and jalapenos ($11) and charred whole baby Patagonian shrimp served in a sizzling hot skillet ($8). Non-red-meat eaters can find respite from the carnivore-friendly menu with a super-fresh trout baked in a bed of sea salt ($18). For dessert, there’s fresh peaches poached in Argentinian Chardonnay with vanilla ice cream ($7).
Owner Stefano Villa said the artsy, bohemian-leaning Lower East Side is what SoHo was years ago, and this allows him to be more adventurous with the cuisine. Executive Chef Maximo Lopez May heads the kitchen. “This is an area where you can cook some really special meals,” said Villa, adding that the chef, who is Argentinian, really puts his grilling techniques to work each day. “And it’s a lot of fun to be a part of a redevelopment of a neighborhood.”
Azul Bistro, 152 Stanton St., (646) 602-2004.