Where Celebs Go Out: Stanley Tucci, Tom Colicchio, Alessandro Nivola

Stanley Tucci at The Luxury Collection Destination Guide Launch with Assouline: I like to go to a lot of different places, but certainly Mario Batali’s restaurants. The beef cheek ravioli at Babbo is so delicious and so incredible. Just about anything he cooks is okay with me. I always stay at the St. Regis, here in New York. ● Rosie Perez: I love Gino’s in Bay Ridge. The arroz con gandule at Luz in Brooklyn is a favorite, and the roasted chicken is the best deal in town. Here in the city, Dok Suni’s for Korean barbeque, at First Avenue and 7th Street.

Alessandro Nivola: Sunny’s, a bar in Red Hook, which has bluegrass bands on some nights. It’s where they filmed On the Waterfront. And a restaurant called The Good Fork in the same neighborhood. The Red Hook Bait and Tackle is a bar that’s seedier than Sunny’s. In Boerum Hill, there’s a great place called Mile End, a hip, Jewish deli. They smoke their own meats and have this incredible beef brisket. ● Estelle: Avenue and SL, I love ’em both. ● Krysten Ritter: I love Brooklyn Bowl. Kenmare is a fun place to go. Aurora in Williamsburg on Grand Street has a wonderful, little beet salad with hazelnuts. ● Timo Weiland: I love to go to Norwood and Gramercy Park Hotel. Sugarland in Brooklyn, so much fun. It’s off-the-beaten path, but a wild dance party. ● Daniel Boulud at the James Beard Awards: Right now, DBGB these days, because it’s one that keeps me the most busy. I like Marea, Le Bernardin, Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. ● Tom Colicchio: I live in the West Village, so I, often, go to Barbuto or Spotted Pig, ’cause they’re in walking distance. The food’s all good. I try different things all the time, so I don’t go back and try the same thing over and over. ● Wylie Dufresne: We like to go to PDT for a cocktail late at night or some tater tots. 15 East is a favorite. We just came from the new Terroir in Tribeca that was great. DBGB just opened up in our neighborhood. The hundred-layer lasagne at Del Posto was pretty special. ● David Burke: Corton was great. From the Garden is a favorite dish there. ● Michael Oher at Big Brothers Big Sisters Sidewalks of New York gala: I live in Baltimore. I love seafood, so anything on the Inner Harbor. The Cheesecake Factory is there. At PF Changs, I get the shrimp-and-chicken fried rice. ● Sebastian Copeland at Pepcom for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Into the Cold: My favorite sushi is in the Valley at Nozawa, which is a place that Spielberg goes to and tried to have Mr. Nozawa open a restaurant in New York. He serves you the food, so you can’t ask for what you want. He kicked out Cherlize Theron one time. He’s known as the “Sushi Nazi.” ● Miranda Cosgrove at Sony Music luncheon celebrating the release of her debut album, Sparks Fly: I go to Mozza in L.A. It’s like a pizza place. They have squash blossoms and really, good margherita pizza. Hungry Cat, on Sunset, has the best dessert. It’s like a chocolate souflee. ● Phil Ramone at opening night of Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway: Bravo Gianni’s on the east side. Sardi’s because I want to feel the history, and they have a good wine list.

Watch Tom Colicchio and Drew Nieporent Rock the F*ck Out

Last night at Guastavino’s under the 59th Street bridge, gourmet meat slingers D’Artagnan celebrated 25 years of systematically slaughtering animals, with a massive bath of flesh—cooked and alive. The French were everywhere, dressed in the company’s signature red and white, and less drunk off small glasses of actual red wine than the red wine sauce those chicken legs were braised in. The highlight of the night was mega restaurateur Drew Nieporent (Corton, Nobu, Tribeca Grill) joining Top Chef host Tom Colicchio (who just shredded “Takin’ Care of Business”) on stage for an insane cover of Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi.” We say insane because we never thought Nieporent was capable of hitting those high notes, and because the elderly gentleman in front of us was clearly high on ecstasy. Video after the jump.

Industry Insiders: Glen Coben, Design-Addicted

Glen Coben is the president of Glen and Company, specializing in architecture branding design. He’s had a hand in Bistro Chat Noir, Del Posto, Esca, the Neptune Room, Noodle Bar, and Zucca. Coben describes himself as an architect and designer with an intense love of creating spaces; his current projects include the new Wyndam hotel, Fashion 26, The Edison Ballroom, a complete renovation of the Old Homestead, Bar Luna, and 57 restaurant and club in Tokyo.

How would you describe yourself? My life varies between being in the office and working with my incredible team of architects and designers on great projects. I’m meeting with clients, contractors, artists. The industry is about relationships that form the foundation of what we do. What I do is the ability to tell stories through design.

Upcoming projects? Miguel Sanchez Romera’s Barcelona-based L’Esguard has one Michelin star, and I’m designing his first restaurant outside Barcelona. It will be called MSR New York. I’ve spent the last 18 months working with him, and we’ve unveiled what the restaurant is going to look like. Fashion 26 at the Wyndham is what brought us together. I was originally hired to design the restaurant, and then we were hired out to do the lobby and public spaces, and then the guest rooms. The great thing about the project is their corporate guidelines; they’re wonderfully fashioned and put together, not quite like a menu, but it talks about expectation of quality. When we first sat down, we were encouraged to follow the guidelines of quality, but to also strive for innovation specific to the location, or site-specific design.

And how was working on Fashion 26? In making brand values local to space, Fashion 26 will speak value-for-money integrated with understated luxury in the Garment District. Those were our talking points as far as designing this particular Wyndham Hotel: value for less money. We used a lot of references to “weaving” things together with plaids and pinstripes to create custom wall coverings and treatments. The front desk is an old cutting-room table with cast iron legs. We’ve created a fashion stew.

Some of your favorite projects? I was the store designer for NIKE and NIKETOWN, which has a global brand presence.

How did you start out? I went to Cornell School of Architecture and learned that architects come in lots of different shapes and sizes. From there, I went to a collaborative organization for artists and architects called SITE for Sculpture in the Environment, and my first mentor was an artist called James Wines, an icon of the early 70s and 80s. From there, I was a principal at Rockwell Group, where my role was to head up the fairly large studio, and I worked on very diverse projects, such as the Kodak Theatre for the Academy Awards. I was working with Michael Ovitz to bring football back to Los Angeles. I was also in charge of the Mall at Jersey Garden. The diversity of work there inspired me to go out on my own and create a diversified practice.

What are your go-to places? The original Wild Ginger in Seattle. You remember the first time you ever taste the Seven Flavor Beef. I also like La Esquina, Corton, Dovetail, the front room at Gramercy Tavern, the Bouqueria in Barcelona and Amandari Hotel in Bali.

Who are your mentors? I admire David Rockwell as an innovator, a hospitality designer, and as a friend.

What is architecture focused on right now? Comfort. I see that we’re going towards a time where guests are looking for comfort as well as style and accessibility.

Anything that annoys you? Molecular gastronomy. I don’t truly understand the term. I understand that it’s innovation in terms of technique, but the need for a label to talk about something that is either new or avant garde puts people into a cubbyhole that’s too limited for some who are doing amazing things that are not molecular by nature. The term bothers me.

Industry Insiders: Paul Liebrandt, Haughty Cuisiner

Paul Liebrandt has worked in some of New York’s most prestigious kitchens — from the decadent Gilt to the critically acclaimed Atlas. His sometimes atypical ingredient pairings in his early days in New York sometimes drew criticism from diners and journalists, a sore point he’s still hesitant to discuss. His current post at Tribeca’s Corton has earned favorable attention and may arguably be his most successful venture yet. Although getting through to the chef took some doing, we got a decent peek into the culinary mastermind’s lifestyle.

Can you describe a dining experience at Corton? How do you mean describe the dining experience? What does that mean?

Can you describe the menu, the ambiance, the experience for our readers who have yet to dine there? Well the menu is modern, contemporary, I guess. French. It’s a very calm dining experience. It’s very refined. Very elegant. You feel excitement in the food and the service. It’s a very refreshing experience to eat here.

How do you react to criticism of your food or your restaurants? Excuse me? Criticism? What do you mean by criticism of my food?

Any sort of negative press or negative reaction. I mean … everybody’s entitled to their opinion

We’re just wondering if you take in stride, or if that’s something that hits home for you? It’s part of any business that you do … people have the right to voice their opinions. If somebody doesn’t like something, that’s their opinion.

What are some of your favorite menu items currently? We have a lovely Japanese Madai on the menu right now, which is lovely, with summer tomatoes and coconut.

What’s is the most unconventional or daring item on the menu? Unconventional. Daring. Well I guess it depends what you call daring, doesn’t it? What I call daring may not be to someone else. We do have a lovely Stilton cheese ice cream. We serve it with a foie gras. It’s really refreshing. We also serve it with a cold cherry soup. And it’s savory, not sweet.

How are New Yorkers different from diners elsewhere? In other cities where? In this country? Europe? Japan? What?

Is there anything that distinguishes New York diners? New York diners are very discerning; they know what they want, and they are very loyal customers. When they like you, they keep coming back.

Which has been your favorite experience in a kitchen? Which has been my favorite kitchen? Is that what you’re asking?

Yes. For what, the restaurants that I’ve owned? Or just in general?

Just in general. Where I’ve worked?

Where you’ve worked. You mean like my favorite working experience?

Yes, your favorite working experience. Well, they all have great things about them, there isn’t one particular kitchen which is better than another one. If I said that one is better than another one, all the other kitchens would get jealous, wouldn’t they?

What’s one piece of advice you would give to novices cooking at home? Choose good ingredients. And when you cook, it sounds a little corny, but I think it is very true — but cook with passion. And really love what you’re doing.

Is there a starter dish that you would recommend to someone who hasn’t cooked very much for themselves? Since it’s summer time, beautiful, beautiful tomatoes are starting to come out of the market. For myself at home, for someone who doesn’t cook professionally at home, say a lovely tomato salad with maybe a little bit of Burrata sliced over the top. I like smoked sea salt, which you can buy at any good store. Just that, it’s beautiful. Very, very nice.

Where else do you eat or go out in New York? I really enjoy Japanese food, so I’m a big fan of Bar Masa. And Blue Ribbon Sushi.

Do you frequent any bars in Tribeca or elsewhere? Not really, no.

Have you noticed any positive trends in New York dining? I think more and more people are using all sorts of sustainable items on their menus. More people are very aware of the impact of using locally sourced ingredients. I think in general, you see a much bigger swing in that regard. The area that we live in here, within New York City, upstate New York, the Tri-Boroughs, it’s very, very good for their locally-sourced ingredients. I think you see a lot more people utilizing that.

Do you have anyone that you would cite as a mentor? Pierre Gagnaire.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? A weekend in Paris.

And what do you do during your weekend in Paris? Well, that’s something which your readers will just have to find out about themselves.

What’s your dream spot for a project? New York, of course. I live here, it’s my home.

New York: Top 10 Oddball Dishes That Work

imageIt all started in the Lower East Side back in 2003 — before the skinny-jeaned hipster invasion — when now-celeb chef Wylie Dufresne opened wd-50. Melding science and food, the molecular gastronomer has since inspired many to experiment. Of course, not everyone’s into mad food science, but most chefs like to get a little edgy somewhere on the menu. ● Cookies @ Momofuku Bakery Milk Bar (East Village) – David Chang could get a vegetarian hooked on pork belly, so imagine what the man’s dessert spot can do with a cookie. Among the most drool-worthy: cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip, corn, blueberry cream, and compost cookie (so fabulously odd that the chocolate chip, pretzel, potato chip, coffee ground, and graham-cracker crumb-concoction is trademarked). ● Onion soup dumplings @ Stanton Social (Lower East Side – You’ll just have to focus on its deliciousness and put aside the fact that there’s enough cheese in this dish to give you a cholesterol problem.

● “Ragu with Odd Things” @ Commerce (West Village) – The name says it all. The “odd things” in this hearty, tomato-based dish refer to oxtail, trotters, and tripe. ● Fried apple pie @ Smith’s (Greenwich Village) – We’ve got fried pickles, fried olives, fried asparagus … we’ve even got fried mayonnaise thanks to Wylie Dufresne. So why not apply pie? Plus, it comes with cinnamon whipped cream. ● Solids (edible cocktails) @ Tailor (Soho) – Who wouldn’t want to get a buzz from gin fizz marshmallows, white Russian breakfast cereal, and absinthe gummy bears? ● Foie gras & hibiscus beet borscht gelée with blood orange @ Corton (Tribeca) – The smooth foie gras torchon — encased in a thin layer of hibiscus and beet gelée and served, moon-shaped, with a salad of beet gelée and blood orange — is just one of the many lusciously innovative options at this prix-fixe-only spot. ● Spicy cayenne hot chocolate @ SalonTea (Upper East Side) – In addition to supposedly speeding up your metabolism and improving blood circulation, it aids in digestion; this sure beats the garlic, celery, and beet concoction from the local health store juice bar. ● Frozen desserts @ Fabio Piccolo Fiore (Midtown East) – Anyone who watches Iron Chef on a semi-regular basis knows that nothings gets the judges more excited than ice cream and sorbet experimentations. Taste for yourself what they’re ooing and ahhing about at Fabio where the rotating flavors include fig and honey, cucumber, rosemary, cactus berry, pineapple mint, tomato vanilla, and goat cheese. ● Hamburger spring rolls @ Delicatessen (Soho) – Burger + flaky dough + condiments…could there be a more ingenious combination? ● Eggs benedict @ wd-50 (Lower East Side) – Dufresne has long touted eggs benedict as one of his favorite dishes, so it’s little surprise that his innovative take on the classic stands out: two cubes of deep-fried hollandaise sauce with toasted English muffin crumbs and two columns of egg yolk, each covered with a crispy bacon chip.

Kinder, Gentler Frank Bruni Reviews Corton, But What of Hooters?

A few months back, we put on display New York Times chief restaurant critic Frank Bruni’s knife-wielding side — as everyone knows, he’s at his best when the claws are out. This week’s review of TriBeCa dining hotspot Corton, however, shows the softer, possibly Boy George-listening side of Bruni.

Take, for example, a “relatively straightforward” foie gras dish capturing Bruni’s imagination. One would think there would be some pretty strong language for it, no? Instead, we get: “In the end it was the creamy, sublimely prepared foie that got me and my companions.” It “got” you, Frank? No good. But we get the feeling that even Frank finds moments of discontent with having to stay within the parameters of, well, being nice. In his December 3 re-review of Momofuku Ssam Bar, Bruni admits to the inherent contrarian nature of critics, calling readers to “think about how those of us dishing out the praise feel. We’d love to move on to a more original object of adoration and would be happy to pronounce (Momofuku restaurant empire chef David Chang) overrated or just plain over — we’re cranky and contrary that way.”

You can tell the guy is achin’ to get his hate on. And we wouldn’t want him to go around bashing hard-working restaurants that try, in earnest, to serve up a good meal to New Yorkers of all epicurean stripes. But we couldn’t agree more, Frank. Our solution to your problem? Start reviewing shittier restaurants. We have some decent places to start. For example: wouldn’t you love to see Bruni take on the Captain Crunch Chicken Tenders at Planet Hollywood? Or give a serious examination towards some of the food at BlackBook writer Ryan Adams’ favorite digs, Republic? Bruni took on the steaks at the Penthouse Executive Club, but what about the “buffalo shrimp” at the New York City outpost of Hooters? Yes, Frank, we know we’re onto something here.

Openings: New York, Atlanta, Miami, Washington DC

New YorkCorton (Tribeca) – Ambitious replacement for much-loved long-runner Montrachet. ● The Bell House (Brooklyn South) – New Bell ringing across semi-deserted streets of GoWo.

AtlantaEast Atlanta Icehouse (East Atlanta) – Old music venue sees new life luring young and hip with step-above pub grub, and local and national indie rock acts.

MiamiSabor a Perú (Edgewater) – Good Peruvian home cookin’ — made with tender love’n care.

Washington DC1905 (U Street) – Where’s Edith Piaf when you need her?