NY Happenings: Tax Day With Esquared Hospitality, Smokeline, Sycamore

MONDAY: Take it 1040 Easy With Discount Boozing
Celebrate your annual bloodletting for Uncle Sam with a drink rollback from Esquared Hospitality. Check out the desperate procrastinator fest at the Farley Post Office before heading over to Eventi’s nearby Big Screen Plaza. Drinks from Brighton and Humphrey are half-off, and the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory screens at 8pm. Sibling joints like BLT SteakBLT Prime, and BLT Fish will also be serving up beer, wine, and cocktails with a fatty 50-percent rebate.      

Enjoy half-off drinks from Esquared Hospitality at Brighton and Humphrey (851 Sixth Ave., Garment District) all day today, April 15th. To learn more about the restaurants, check out their listings above at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Rib-Sandwich Joint Opens Near Chelsea Market
Dan Delaney of BrisketTown drops a rib-focused stand along the High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage. Smokeline’s sandwiches take inspiration from Central Texas, and pies and bespoke sodas make Chelsea chilling all the sweeter.

Smokeline (Chelsea Market Passage on the High Line, Chelsea) opens Thursday, April 18th. To learn more about the stand, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: First-Class Flights
Sycamore in Ditmas Park continues its Flight Night series with a visit from Frisco’s own Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Flights of four brews will only set you back $8.

Speakeasy Flight Night at Sycamore (1118 Cortelyou Rd., Ditmas Park) is Thursday, April 18th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Keep up with the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

Former BLT Fish Sommelier Arrested for Picasso Theft, Sans Socks

Mark Lugo, a 30-year-old Hoboken resident and former sommelier at high-end places such as BLT Fish and Per Se, has been arrested for stealing a $200,000 Picasso drawing at a gallery in San Francisco. Lugo was apparently dressed like a Miami Vice character during the heist. The SF Chronicle report notes that “witnesses noticed [he] was wearing loafers and no socks.” He had the 1965 drawing, “Tête de Femme,” boxed up and ready for shipment when police apprehended him at a friend’s Napa apartment complex Wednesday evening.

Admittedly, it takes a certain amount of balls to up and walk into a gallery in broad daylight, take artwork off the wall, and walk out with it. Lugo had flown to San Francisco from New York in order to pull off the theft, and checked into the Palomar, a fancy schmancy hotel. Per the Chronicle:

“We can assume he has good taste, and how he was going to finance that good taste, perhaps, was based upon his success in obtaining a valuable piece of art,” said Capt. Stephen Tacchini, commander of Central Station, whose officers tracked Lugo down. “Now, his accommodations are certainly not on par with the Palomar.”

Ha, love you for being the only cop in America with a sense of humor, Capt. Stephen Tacchini. Lugo is being held in SF on a hefty $5 million bail. The gallery owner described the incident as “just a fluke.”

Where Celebs Go Out: Hugh Jackman, Parker Posey, Reshma Shetty

At the premiere of City Island:

● ANDY GARCIA – “In New York there are so many great restaurants. There’s an old one I’ve gone here for many years that I like to visit, just out of nostalgia. It’s a very good restaurant. It’s called Il Vagabondo. It has a bocce court in it. It’s just a very picturesque place; very, good food. Cipriani’s. There’s a new one called Nino’s. Scalinatella — a lot of Italian restaurants, you can tell. I always pop my head into Victor’s Cafe. And then, I’ve got to have a Gray’s Papaya hot dog here.” Any plans to visit Cuba? “Oh, I dream about visiting Cuba every day. But some people have to leave there first.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “I’m a real junkie for Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I love his cooking. I just went to his place up in The Mark, and I was lucky enough to go to his new restaurant down at ABC Carpet and Home — all organic, every ingredient’s within an 100-mile radius. The food is just unbelievable there, so … Any special dish? Chicken. He told me his secret: brine. You got to brine your chicken.” ● VERA WANG –“I like Morimoto, and I like Bar Masa, and I love the new Mark Hotel, and Sant Ambroeus, uptown and downtown, Mr. Chow’s. I go out to eat a lot — you can tell.”

● SANDRA BERNHARD – “I love Cookshop, which is downtown. I love BLT Fish, one of my favorite restaurants. Babbo. Of course, I love 2nd Avenue Deli. I’m very into trying to eat locally, sustainably grown food. I’m doing more and more cooking at home because of my daughter. And I’ve always eaten very balanced and healthy, but, to me, it’s about really preserving the environment, as well.” ● ZOE KRAVITZ –Five Leaves in Brooklyn, in Greenpoint. Delicious.” ● PARKER POSEY – “I’m trying to give a good recommendation for something. Mary’s Fish Camp.” ● DOMINIK GARCIA-LORIDO – “Oh, wow! I’m, like, so not a club person anymore. I’m pretty much a homebody. I live in L.A., so … I like more dive bars and chill spots where you can hear good music. I don’t like really sceney places. I don’t like where you have to dress up. I’m more, have a beer and chill; watch a game. I have to give a shout-out to the guy I work for, as a waitress. I still work there. It’s a lounge in Studio City, California, called Next Door Tapas. It’s attached to an Italian restaurant, La Loggia. It’s a really chill, tapas bar in the Valley. It’s got good drinks and good food.” ● STEVEN STRAIT –The Smile on Bond Street — really, really cool place; a little coffee shop that’s got great food, great coffee; really relaxed, cool place. I grew up here, but I don’t live here anymore. I love staying at the Chelsea Hotel. It’s got so much character; really, amazing history; inspiring place. It’s really kept to its roots. The city’s expanded around it. It’s really held firm. I appreciate that.” ● RESHMA SHETTY – “My favorite restaurant, at the moment, is Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar. I love that place. Bar-wise, the Russian Vodka Room does a mean apple martini. And they have a fabulous happy hour: $5, 4-6.” ● GRAHAM PHILLIPS – “One thing that’s been fun is that I’ve noticed is that all the best pizzerias are in Brooklyn, and I used to never really go to Brooklyn, but now that the show [The Good Wife] films in Brooklyn, I’ve been going to all these pizzerias. I have a list on my phone. Someone sent it to me. I’ve just been trying to check ’em all off my list. Joe’s Pizza, Bleecker and Carmine, unbelievable! Di Fara, Brooklyn, Avenue J — I tried that. That was unbelievable! I also tried Grimaldi’s. And they were all unbelievable. They’re all in the same genre of this authentic New York pizza, but they all have their little twist to it.”

Industry Insiders: Mathieu Palombino, Original Famous Pizza Prince

Mathieu Palombino is one of New York’s most unlikely chefs: Belgian-born and French-trained, he worked at a fine dining restaurant — BLT Fish — earning their kitchen three stars. So where do you go from there? For Palombino, it was three stops into Williamsburg. And when he found the spot he wanted, he opened up Motorino, his shrine to pan-sized Neapolitan-style pizzas, topped with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Naturally, it took off and earned the accolades of New York’s food scene quickly. Now Palombino’s set to become the Neapolitan pizza game in town, as he takes over tatted-up NYC pizza legend Anthony Mangieri’s Una Pizza Napoletana’s oven and space. We interviewed Mathieu back in June, clumsily lost the transcript, and finally found it in time for the opening of his new East Village space. Here, we get him to dish on his family’s favorite eats, Brooklyn’s history, Brooklyn’s hipsters, and his love of the pizza business.

So: you told me the old locals in your part of Williamsburg aren’t exactly taking to Motorino? It’s funny, because they’re from Napoli, but they don’t relate to that product, because the people that really love that pizza and crave it and have bright eyes looking at the oven, they appreciate it. They’re from another generation, it’s a different world, they don’t really care for it.

But a lot of people do. Food critics. “Foodies.” Yeah, they’re 25, 45, 55, but people that know what’s up. This is my clientele, and also, even if they’re people that are, you know, kids from Brooklyn, they come. The youngest Italian generation — the children of the older folks in my neighborhood — they come and the like it. And a lot of Manhattan people, a lot of those, I don’t know if the word “hipster” is a bad word or not …

No! You can definitely use that word here. I don’t know, I feel like I am one. Anyway: the young American coming to Brooklyn to experience the Brooklyn lifestyle, all these kids, the people I work with, with all the tattoos and stuff — these are my people, these are the people that gravitate to Motorino.

And the press. The press has been amazing. What was that experience like? It was good, well Slice and Adam Kuban, that was the biggest moment for me.

When Slice New York put their … You know, there was nobody else doing what I’m doing. It was just Pizza Napoletana, to do the Pizza Napoletana, he was the only guy, he opened years ago. So one day, we opened with a different attitude, because we’re more rock n roll, less authentic in the way the restaurant is. We have a little more variety in terms of appetizers, we have different things on the menu (besides pizza). So I wasn’t too sure of our chances with the press. When Slice came, it was opening day, and I was so busy I wasn’t even thinking about it. The manager downstairs called me and said: “You need to look at Slice.” I loved it.

Motorino was really the first thing to happen to Graham’s dining scene. It’s gotten better since you opened. Do you think you led the charge? I hope. There are a couple of kids opening restaurants, and I’m looking forward to going there and spending money because I really want to support them, and I’m all about, ya know, as much as I can help these guys, I’ll help them, because I know what it’s like to be starting out. It’s tough.

Do you feel like you’re living the dream? Yeah, I love my life, man. I really love it. I do what I’ve always done, what I’ve always enjoyed doing, which is: I put out as much as the best of my ability, of what I can do, and it pays back. People keep answering it. At first it was paying for the people I had working for the restaurant, and now it’s paying for myself. But yeah, I’m loving it. I love this pizza business.

Do you see anything besides Motorino in your future? Like maybe a different restaurant? Yeah.

Yeah? It’s far in the future and it’s nothing I can possibly … you know?

Of course. No jinxing. So when you go out, where do you like to go? What are your favorite bars and restaurants in the city? In Manhattan?

Yeah in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, whatever. Peter Luger. I love it, because it’s a full-blooded business.

Literally. Yeah, literally. I like restaurants that have a focus on something. I like Fette Sau a lot. In this city, I like BLT Steak, not even because I went there and I opened the space, but because it’s such an amazing restaurant. I love all BLT restaurants, basically. Oh, and then there’s this guy, owns a restaurant. Doesn’t talk about dowers. Doesn’t talk about money. He talks about food. He’s Frankie Castronovo.

From Frankies and Frankies Spuntino. Yeah, I had the meal of the year over there. I had the pork bracciola, I mean it was ridiculously good. It was like so good man, so good.

Any bars? I like Blue and Gold ,,, Lots of bars, I just like to go there, no nonsense, just go, get your drink, play pool, the jukebox is good.

Is there a favorite restaurant that you and your wife have when you take your son out? The thing is, he’s very difficult; it’s very difficult to go and eat with him.

If you could take him to a restaurant, if there were a kind of food you would raise him on, what kind of food would it be? For him to eat? You know what, I like all Mario Batali restaurants. I would go to Otto. You go there, it’s set up for kids. They come, you don’t have to ask for the high chair, the high chair’s coming in. There is an increasing number of restaurants where they don’t have baby chairs, and it’s driving me nuts. I see that, I turn around and I leave.

So I’m guessing you have a decent stock in your restaurant. Of course! You know, I’m an old dude. I have a son. And when I go to a place and I have my son, and I say, “Hi, can I have a baby chair? And the guy looks at me and says “we don’t have.” And its like, is it not cool enough or something? When you’re reaching and you say, let’s not have baby chairs, it’s going to look even more cool? Then I’m not there. I’m not there anymore.

Industry Insiders: Chef Ed Cotton, Running the Market

Laurent Tourondel has passed a gastronomically reputable torch to Chef Ed Cotton to run BLT Market, Tourondel’s kitchen of the Upper West Side’s Ritz-Carlton-based restaurant. A fresh blend of market-inspired delights is what this Boston-bred chef brings to the table. After years creating delectable dishes at Daniel and Veritas, as well as working the ovens of the lightening fast-paced Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America, Chef Ed’s dishes brings new meaning to your average food shopping at the market.

What do you do as chef de cuisine at BLT Market? I’m in charge of running a kitchen with a crew of 12 people. I do all of the ordering and purchasing. I try to find the freshest ingredients and produce. I run service and control the pass. The pass is where the tickets come in, so I can call out the orders, orchestrate them, and then assemble everything on the plates.

How do you go about designing the menu? Laurent and I meet every season and go over what foods are in their peak for that time of year, their availability, and what’s cool. One of us will have gone out to dinner, and we’ll say, “I tasted this great cheese, and it’s from Hudson Valley, and I want you to try it.” We try to find local farmers who are really passionate about their products. We go over the menus and discuss every detail together. I listen to him and he listens to me until we come up with something.

Describe the cuisine of BLT Market. French/American bistro. The name of the restaurant is BLT Market, so it’s definitely market-driven.

What is your favorite dish on the menu at the moment? Right now, I’m doing a house-made spicy lamb sausage with broccoli rabe, pomodoro sauce, and rigatoni. I like making pastas. That dish is brand new, so I’m really excited about it.

What sort of clientele frequents BLT Market? Tony Bennett comes in here a lot. We have a large amount of the Ritz-Carlton hotel guests who come down from their rooms too. Mainly, it’s the Upper East Siders.

How’d you get your start in the restaurant business? I’m a second-generation chef. My father graduated from same culinary school as I did, the Culinary Institute of America. He was an executive chef outside of Boston while I was growing up. So, I basically grew up in the kitchen.

What was the first restaurant you worked in, in New York City? I worked for a lady named Patricia Yo who owned two restaurants, AZ and Pazzo. It’s ironic because now those two restaurants are BLT Fish and BLT Steak.

How’d you get your position as sous chef to Cat Cora on Iron Chef America? When I was cooking at Daniel years ago, a good friend of mine who was working for Iron Chef told me Cat was looking for a replacement. I emailed my resume to Cat’s assistant, and literally 15 minutes later, they called and said, “It looks great. Do you want to meet Cat?” I met with her and have been on the show now for three years

What’s it like cooking on television? After watching the show for such a long time, to actually be in Kitchen Stadium was kind of weird. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually here.” I was super nervous the first time, but then you get used to these guys running around with cameras while you’re cooking, and cables all over the place. I’m really comfortable with it now.

Favorite restaurants in New York? After work, I like to go to Landmarc in the Time Warner building because it turns into an industry hangout after my working hours. There are so many people that work late that go there. They have a great wine list. I also like going to Nougatine at Jean Georges for lunch. It’s a great deal, and the food is super tasty and awesome.

Who do you admire in the industry? Guy Savoy. He’s a very well-known chef, and he is super-talented. I had the privilege of eating at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas with my old boss Daniel Boulud, and it was a really memorable meal.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen recently in the hospitality industry? The food styles keep changing. The way food styles keep evolving is the reason why I moved to New York from Boston. There are so many different restaurants. I don’t know if that even answers your question, but it’s true.

Any negative trends? Everybody is doing molecular gastronomy. I do respect it, and I’ll even use a little of it. But as far as using powders and chemicals, I’m not a fan of it.

What is something that people might not know about that goes on in the kitchen of a restaurant? Before service we always get together to talk and brief each other about what is going on that night, like how many reservations there are and how many are VIPs coming in. Here at BLT, between the front of the house and the back of the house, we always have a little pre-meal staff meeting to try and let everyone in on what’s going on.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t in the kitchen? When the weather is beautiful, I’ve been going to Central Park for the whole day and just hanging out and relaxing. Also, I obviously like to go out to dinner a lot.

What advice would you give to aspiring young chefs? I’d say you have to really, really love it. You can’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I want to be a chef.” It really has to come from the heart. You were born with this feeling that cooking is what you want to do. Young aspiring chefs should understand you’ve got to work a lot of long hours, and it’s hot in the kitchen. But you know what? If you really want it, absorb all of that and just do it. Have fun and don’t get discouraged. Keep asking questions and always listen to people with experience. Be a sponge.

What’s your dream spot for a project? I’m torn between NYC and Boston because I really love to be challenged, and New York is definitely a challenging city. Restaurants open and they close, they open and they close. But I could go back home to Boston where it’s a smaller scene, so it might be a bit easier to have a successful restaurant. I just want a cool, funky, straightforward restaurant that serves well-executed food. I want it to be fun and not pretentious with a great wine list. I’d say French/Italian food with handmade pastas. A very industrial-looking place instead of soft seats and plush leather.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite NYC Spots, Done Right

As if winning an Oscar and having an Apple wasn’t enough, Gwyneth Paltrow is trying to steal our thunder by listing her favorite New York restaurants in her latest GOOP newsletter. That’s what we do, Gwyneth! How would you like it if we started doing yoga? When she did it for L.A., we let it slide as a mid-life crisis/nervous breakdown, but now she strikes again. Problem is, she’s not very good at it. After the jump, a list of Gwyneth’s favorite NYC restaurants, followed by her vague reasons why. Luckily, you can click on each restaurant to find out what it’s really about.

Babbo – “One of the city’s best.” ● Cookshop – “It is abuzz with foodies who come to taste the ever-changing menu.” ● Balthazar – “I love this place.” ● Gramercy Tavern – “One of New York’s most popular restaurants for a reason.” ● HanGawi – “HanGawi is a vegetarian Korean place that I have been going to for years.” ● Kelley and Ping SoHo – “Another SoHo spot that has been there for ages.” ● Lupa – “I love to go for spaghetti aglio e olio.” ● Omen – “Omen has been there since long before SoHo was trendy.” ● Sushi Yasuda – “Best sushi in NYC, hands down.” ● Tartine – “A very quaint, tiny French café on a perfect West Village corner.” ● Market Table – “I just recently discovered Market Table and I adore it.” ● BLT Fish Shack – “This is one of my most frequented spots.” ● 15 East – “One of my faves.” ● Pearl Oyster Bar – “Oh, how I love Pearl Oyster Bar.” ● Angelica Kitchen – “East Village granola heaven.” ● Momofuku Ssam and Noodle Bar – “These places became two of NYC’s hottest spots in a very short time. ” ● Aquagrill – “One of my regular spots.” ● Otto – ” A great place to bring kids.”

Industry Insiders: Carter Reum, Spirit Savvy

What do you do? My brother and I own an alcohol company called VeeV, the first Acai spirit. We launched it 14 months ago in Los Angeles and since then we’ve just been distributing it around the country. Before we launched, we decided that we would donate a dollar from every bottle back to a project called Sustainable Acai Project, so we partnered with a non-alcoholic acai drink company, and we donate a dollar directly back to the farmers to ensure kind of a sustainable and organized farming of acai and make sure it’s “wild harvested” to protect the rainforest.

Where do you go out? My favorite restaurants in this city are probably, hands down, the BLTs. I love all the BLT concepts — prime, steak, fish — and they’re all very different. The one consistent thing is that you’re going to get great food and a fun atmosphere there. It’s very high-end without being stuffy. My other favorite place in the city to go out at night is the Eldridge … if you can make it past the doorman, it’s a hell of an experience inside. There aren’t a whole lot of people in there, but it seems to be good people and fun people — anyone who’s in there seems to have a good time. My favorite place in LA is this place called Crown Bar … they’ve got good cocktails and a very fun and classic environment.

Are you and your brother big drinkers? Not any bigger than the next person. We definitely spent a lot of time in the nightlife stuff in New York, and just going to Columbia we were around it a lot. Now I own the copyright of social alcoholism. And now when you’re drinking by yourself in the morning, and your friend judges you, you can say, “Screw you I’m saving the Brazilian rainforest. What have you done today?”

What’s something that people might not know about you? I’m a certified sushi chef. I figured I might be broke after college if I didn’t end up getting banking job, and I eat sushi twice a day, so I figured my best shot was to learn how to make my own sushi if I ever went hungry. I took classes at the New York Culinary Institute, and I actually have the highest certification of a sushi chef outside of Japan that you can get.

Favorite cocktail? It’s a VeeV cocktail at a new restaurant called Pranna. It’s my favorite because the cocktail is as good as it looks. It’s called the Butterfly Whisperer, and is a beautiful green color and garnished with a floating rose petal. The cocktail has VeeV, Hendrick’s Gin, and kiwi. It’s amazing!!

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to have dinner at either Craft or BLT, then bounce around to a few of my favorite spots like starting for a cocktail at the Randolph then hitting the Eldridge, Goldbar, and Cain Luxe for some action.