Happy Earth Day! NYC’s Greenest Restaurants

When you’re feasting on a platter of cheese pierogies at Veselka, and loaded nachos from Wildwood BBQ, it’s nice to temper your finger-shaking “you said you’d order kale!” conscience with the fact that hey, you’re going green so scram. In NYC, only a select bunch of restaurants are actually Certified Green – meaning they’re using eco-friendly products and conserving energy and water – and the list just might surprise you (where are all those vegan restaurants?) Here are our favorites:

1.     Lupa Osteria Romana

2.     Nobu

3.     Le Bernadin

4.     L’Artusi

5.     Veselka

6.     Wildwood Barbeque

7.     Otto

8.     Dos Caminos

9.     Del Posto

10.   dell’anima

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Industry Insiders: Joe Campanale, Wine Warrior

Joe Campanale and his business partner, chef Gabe Thompson, opened their first restaurant, dell’anima, in the fall of 2007, while Joe was still a year away from earning his masters at NYU’s Food Studies program. The cozy Italian restaurant in the West Village, which stays open until 2:00 a.m. five nights a week, immediately became a go-to spot for stylish locals and celebrities alike. On a recent weeknight we spotted Mad Men’s January Jones and Elisabeth Moss plus SNL funnyman Jason Sudeikis lingering over bowls of homemade pasta. In the next three years Joe and Gabe opened two more restaurants: L’Artusi, the bigger, grander version of dell’anima, and Anfora, a dimly lit wine bar adjacent to their first restaurant. Joe serves as beverage director for all three, crafting signature cocktails and helping diners navigate the extensive all-Italian wine lists. When he’s not working at one of his restaurants, you can find Joe racing in a marathon, roaming Italy, or teaching Martha Stewart how to mix a cocktail. Joe took time out from a wine-tasting trip in Friuli, Italy, to chat with BlackBook about restaurants, food, TV, and wines for under $10.

Biggest challenge of owning and operating three restaurants? Finding the right people so I don’t have to be all three restaurants every night, which is what we are constantly working on. These days I do very little of the actual operations. The other challenge is finding balance. I love work and my tendancy is to be here all the time. Running has helped me balance my life better.

At a small, neighborhood restaurant like dell’anima, where private seating isn’t really an option, how do you cater to celebrity clientele? We have a lot of celebs who come in and don’t seem to be bothered by the lack of privacy. Our guests are great about respecting people’s privacy. A few times though we’ve had people book the private room at L’Artusi so that they could be sure they have some privacy.

Nowadays, thanks to the Food Network and reality TV shows like Top Chef, consumers are a lot more informed, or at least they think they are. How does this affect the restaurant industry? I think its great that people are more interested and involved in food. The fact that consumers are more informed and demanding than ever will only help the guys who are doing it right.

Would you participate in a reality TV show? I’m open to it

Is there someone in the restaurant/hospitality biz whose career you wish to emulate? I respect Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food & Wine and Danny Meyer (of course!) but am trying to do my own thing.

Favorite NYC spots: I go to Gramercy Tavern and sit at the bar all the time! If I’m ever uptown its probably because I’m at Dovetail and I love Franny’s and Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

How can the general dining population become more educated about wine? Ask your sommelier a few questions when your order a bottle of wine, see if your favorite wine store does tastings, or sign up for a class. Institute of Culinary Education and the International Wine Center do great classes. Wine is one of those things where having a little knowledge really adds to the enjoyment.

Is there such a thing as a great bottle of wine for under $15? Under $10? I drink bottles at those prices all the time. I think you can have a very good bottle at $10 or $15, but a great wine requires a great plot of land, low yields, and lots of hours of doing things by hand – the kinds of things you can skimp on with less expensive wines. So, once in a while it is worth it to splurge on a nicer bottle if you can.

Your favorite cocktail? Negroni Sbagliato (“wrong negroni”), a negroni with sparkling white wine instead of gin.

Plans for the future? Continue to improve dell’anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora and we’ll see what comes of it.

Interpol Takes Us to Their Favorite Downtown Haunts

Interpol lead singer and guitarist Paul Banks sits in a windowless lounge in the Soho headquarters of Matador Records, his face obscured by aviator sunglasses and the brim of a black fedora. He’s joined by his bandmates, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino, each dressed in somber tones that, were it not for their impeccable tailoring, would make them indistinguishable from the trendy young New Yorkers sitting around the office.

“It’s erotic and creepy,” says Banks of the music video for “Lights,” a haunting track off Interpol’s new self-titled album, out this month. The video interpretation of their already pitch-black song was directed by Charlie White, who also helmed the video for their 2005 song “Evil,” which followed a puppet on his way to the hospital a er a brutal car accident. Not surprisingly, the video for “Lights” is equally twisted, featuring a pair of attractive Asian “courtesans” preparing a “doe” for pheromone-harvesting, a ritual that occurs, as the title card helpfully informs, “deep within the inner chambers of the three-horned rhinoceros beetle.”

“Charlie is obsessed with sex and death. He’s a man after my own heart,” says Banks, who recently split from his longtime girlfriend, supermodel Helena Christensen. The video is a far cry from most of the pop frippery out there—Katy Perry and her whipped cream breasts; Lady Gaga and her firework breasts—but then, so is Interpol.

Over the course of eight years and four albums, fans have watched the band evolve from post-punk revivalists to indie rock innovators, defining and re-defining their sound while sharing the stage with some of the world’s mightiest rock legends. They headlined a North American tour this past summer, and will support U2 on a spate of European gigs this month and next. Still, their latest album marks a turning point for a group that’s often compared to Manchester rock pioneers Joy Division. “We wanted to do something different from what we had done before,” says Daniel Kessler, which meant building instrumentation and bringing keyboards and melodies to the forefront.

Interpol has been based in New York since 1997, when the band first began performing together at downtown clubs like Luna Lounge. And while they could probably do what they do anywhere in the world at this point, their formative years in the city helped define them as a band. “With New York, a lot of people are affected by their first year or so,” Kessler says. “Either they run screaming and crying, or they succeed in what they’re trying to do. I could go to Uruguay and still feel the essence of New York and be inspired by the time I spent here. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”

Cienfuegos: “This is where I come to pull chicks. That’s really the main reason. And, yeah, there are good Cuban sandwiches downstairs. Upstairs, they serve exotic punches in big carafes with ladles and some of the better cocktails in the city. They have this amazing drink called Rosa Verde with watermelon and arugula. The owner [Ravi DeRossi] also runs Death & Co., which is one of the best cocktail bars in the city, along with The Bourgeois Pig, 124 Rabbit Club, and a Mexican place up the block called Mayahuel, so he’s got a little empire going on.” —Paul Banks

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Anfora: “I met [owner Joe Campanale] at a dinner party. We became friends and he’s since taught me a lot about wine. He also owns the restaurant next door, dell’anima, and L’Artusi, just a few blocks away. It feels like you’re doing something a little swanky at this wine bar, but without the pretension. You could come in wearing a pair of jeans and still have a glass of $80 Barolo. It brings this level of sophistication down to earth. I’m into white wine, so I always tell Joe ‘dry but fruity.’ They serve sandwiches, cheese plates, and stuff from very specific regions of Italy—a lot of salamis and cured meats. The prosciutto and the beef bresaola are my favorites.” —Sam Fogarino

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Rebel Rebel Records: “This is the place to go for vinyl. The owner and I have like-minded tastes. It was a shame when we lost Virgin Records in Union Square, but I would care more if we lost this one. Good record stores are a dying breed, and I think this one is the real deal.” —Paul Banks

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Matt Umanov Guitars: “I bought my first guitar, a Guild, here in 1992. I thought it was awesome at the time. The last thing I got here was a 12-string Gibson. I like the dudes who run this place.” —Paul Banks

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Cafe Gitane: “I’ve been coming here for 15 years. It’s always filled with people, but I can still find peace of mind. They have a great salad with beets, apples, and endive, and an avocado on toast that’s very tasty, too. The place is tiny, but it works—plus, it’s a nice spot to sit outdoors and catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a good rendezvous spot.” —Daniel Kessler

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Lord Willy’s: “I keep coming back because of the personalities who work here, and I love the shirts. They’re done with classic English tailoring. The colors are always playful, almost post-dandyish. They’re from an era that’s not around anymore. The shirts fit so well that I don’t have to wear them with a tie to make them look nice. You can dress them up as much or as little as you want.” —Paul Banks

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Freemans Sporting Club: “There’s an adjacent restaurant, Freemans, which I went to before I knew about this place. As we were leaving, I walked out onto Rivington Street, and I was like, What’s this? I walked in, and I thought, is is probably the coolest clothing store I’ve ever been in. And there’s a barbershop, too? I’ve known Shorty, my barber, for the better part of 12 years, and I turn around and he’s cutting hair here! We hadn’t seen each other in a while because I had been touring, but that brought me back here. I like the whole concept of the men’s club. Hemingway would have shopped here. I got this brown leather belt, this green shirt, and a couple of winter pieces. This stuff is going to endure for decades. I’ll come here when I’m 70 years old and it will feel just as natural as it does now. —Sam Fogarino

Photography by Brooke Nipar

Industry Insiders: Robert Childs, All Suited Up

When menswear designer Robert Childs first entered the offices of Thom Browne, he was a student at FIT and an intern at Adam Kimmel. He saw himself designing extreme sports ware and didn’t own a suit. “Never once did it cross my mind where I was like, ‘Man, I want to work for Thom Browne,’” says Childs. “It was actually kind of the other way around. I was always telling my friends, ‘I’m in fashion because I never want to wear a suit.’ I just kind of stumbled into it.” Now Childs spends his days overseeing Browne’s meticulously tailored designs, from start to finish: “My job is to help Thom realize the collections from concept to the show. Pretty much anything he needs to get done, I facilitate.” This season, that includes Thom Browne’s much-anticipated first collection for women. Here’s Childs on the new collection, the Thom Browne design process, and his own intriguing story—how he went from community college drop-out to showroom staple.

First interest in fashion: I don’t know when I first got into fashion. I was a junior or a senior in high school and me and my friends were skateboarding, wake boarding, and surfing a lot and doing a bunch of ‘alternative sports.’ I wanted to make clothes we could wear because the clothes that I wanted to buy were never cool enough.

On Plan A: I had the bright idea to go to business school. My friend at the time was moving to Gainesville, Florida and I didn’t apply to any colleges at all. So, I moved to Gainesville and decided to go to community college because my friend had a house up there. I dropped out of because I hated business school. I moved back home and just kept working on what I was doing. My mom’s friend taught me how to sew and I wasn’t very good at it at the time. I was like, “F*** this.” I applied to FIT because I thought I wanted to go right into the fashion end and design.

On his experience at FIT: I got an acceptance letter to FIT, packed up what little things I had, and moved to New York. I was this little guy from Key West moving to New York. It was crazy. Every day waking up and going, “Wow. I’m in New York City.” Went to school for two years. Got an Associates Degree. Learned to sew like a badass. Never once did it cross my mind where I was like, “Man. I want to work for Thom Browne.”

On how he got the job: It was absolutely bizarre. I knocked on the door, walked into this office and everybody turns at me. I’m super casual and everyone is in a suit. Everyone just looks at me and I’m like, “Uh. Uh. I just wanted to speak to the design director or whatever. You know…Is Thom in?” They’re like, “No.” The CFO at the time came up to me and said, “What do you need?” I was like, “I just want to hand you my resume. I work at Adam Kimmel upstairs. I’m looking for a job. I was hoping you could hand this to Thom for me.” And, he said, “Okay. I’ll give it to the design director for you.” The next day or the day after, Thom calls me up and he’s like, “Hey Rob. It’s Thom. I want you to come in for an interview.” I went home and banged out a little project for him. I did like 12 or 15 looks. I brought it in and presented it to him. I was freaking out thinking about what I was going to wear to this interview for the guy who makes the best suits in the world. So, I borrowed a suit from Kimmel. I’ll never forget it. We sat there talking for a long time. I thought it went terribly, but I guess he liked me. The next day he called me and offered me a job. I’m super stoked.

On the day-to-day: My job is to help Thom realize the collections from concept to the show. Pretty much anything he needs to get done, I facilitate. It’s never visual. He doesn’t like us to look at inspirational pictures or anything like that. It’s more of taking from the everyday. We never use color charts. The colors develop as we develop fabrics. Nowadays, we’re developing 90% of all the fabrics we get. I never thought I’d be designing fabrics. Designing accessories and looks from start to finish, anything that he wants. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.

What he has to offer: What I bring to the table for Thom Browne is very not so Thom Browne which adds a cool mix to it. I get to think a lot more and think outside the box and push myself to think about these crazy, cool concepts that I don’t think I’d ever really think about if I wasn’t working for Thom Browne.

The end-result: It’s so cool to be able to work for five or six months then, though it is really short at the end – that show – it’s like 15 minutes and can make or break your entire six months of work. When, it’s done, it’s like, “Oh. It went so well.”

What to expect in the new women’s line: We’re gonna show in September at Fashion Week. I hope. That’s the plan. I don’t know how much I’m supposed to talk about. It’s gonna be very “Tom Browne for women”. A lot of fabric ideas for men translated to women. We’re also taking some of the more classic men’s fabrics and using them for women. It’s very tailored, but at the same time, trying to make it suit a woman’s body.

Favorite designers (other than Thom Browne, of course): I really like Junya Wantnabe. I’ve always followed what he’s been doing. I think that he a lot of the time really hits the mark. The other guy, Patrik Ervell, is based out of New York… and, Adam Kimmel.

Go-To Places: There’s a place called Five Leaves. Really good food. Been there a couple times and its tasty for sure. There’s another restaurant in the city, Dell’anima. It’s so good. Doughnut Planet for sweets. Then, of course, for a burger, I like to go to Shake Shack. I go when it’s raining. It’s wet, so nobody’s in line.

Where Celebs Go Out: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

1. Richard Gere, at the premiere of Brooklyn’s Finest: My favorite restaurant has to be the Bedford Post. 2. Don Cheadle: BOA, in L.A. 3. Ethan Hawke: Manganaro’s, on 9th Avenue. 4. Wesley Snipes: That’s gotta be home. My wife is an excellent cook! Where do I like to go? Oh, La Dinastia, the Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 72nd, near Broadway. 5. Hoda Kobt: I love 21 Club. I love Tabla. I love Shake Shack, just their burgers. ‘Cause the first time I saw a line, I thought, ‘Who would wait in a line this long for a burger?’ And then I realized, ‘I would.’ There’s something about the size, the texture; they’re moist, they’re delicious. And I like Kefi — on Columbus — the best, best Greek food ever, delicious.

6. Antoine Fuqua: Carmine’s. They have Carmine’s in New York and L.A. 7. Richard Belzer: I hang out in bed with my dog! West Branch is one of my favorites. It’s up here on the west side on 77th and Broadway. And all of Drew Nieporent’s restaurants. Yeah, I get around. 8. Wade Allain-Marcus: I go to a spot like Legion in Williamsburg. It’s a bar. It’s a beautiful thing. 9. Nicoye Banks: I like the Hudson. The Hudson’s always good. The Mandarin has a nice lounge on the 35th floor, if you really want to relax, look at Central Park, be smooth. Good restaurant — Parlor Steakhouse on 90th and 3rd. 10. Grizz Chapman: Actually, I work. I don’t really hang out too much. Favorite restaurant is The Palm, the one on the east side. Being that my diet has changed, my favorite dish would, probably, just be vegetables and chicken. 11. Kevin “Dot Com” Brown: I don’t get a chance to hang out, like I used to. I come to these events, and I never remember the name — I just follow the flyer; whatever address is there; I just follow the address. But I never remember the names of the venues. And when you’re not at an event? City Island. I go to Sammy’s — I go to Sammy’s seafood in City Island, and I overeat! 12. Andre Brown: I hang out at the Rose Bar, the GoldBar, Juliet — that’s about it. 13. Daymond John: Restaurants: I always go to Nobu, Blue Ribbon. Bars, I go to Tenjune. Clubs — well, Tenjune’s like a bar and a club — I go to the Greenhouse and I go to M2. 14. Shannon Kane: Wow! I don’t really hang out at a lot of clubs or anything like that, but I have some really great restaurants in L.A. One of them is El Cholo, a Mexican restaurant. Any favorite dish? The vegetarian burrito, and the fresh guacomole — they make right in front of you. 15. Michael Martin: I used to love Bar Code. It’s, actually, gone now. I love club Amnesia, great place. The Tunnel is gone now. Tammany Hall — that’s a great one. 16. Wendy Williams: Victor’s — Cuban food. 17. Sherri Shepherd: There’s a restaurant on 56th, between 8th and 9th called Bricco’s. And it’s just a nice, little family restaurant, and I go there with everybody because they got fresh Italian food, and the owner — oh, my gosh — he kisses you like you’re the most amazing woman in the world! 18. John D’Leo: John’s Pizzeria in the village has, probably, the best pizza in New York. 19. Carrie Lowell: Bedford Post — the restaurant we own. 20. Lili Taylor: I love Bar Pitti. I like the Cuban restaurant in Harlem on 125th. Sylvia’s Soulfood in Harlem. 21. Bethenny Frankel: I like Kraft. I like the Strip House. I like Abe and Arthur’s. I like steakhouses. I need meat on the bone. I need to feed the baby! 22. D’brickashaw Ferguson: Probably, Junior’s. In Brooklyn? Yeah, gotta represent! Other than the cheesecake, I’m a big fan of their barbecued chicken. 23. Ellen Barkin: I don’t have [a favorite restaurant]. 24. Lena Olin @ “Remember Me” premiere: My favorite restaurant in the city is Nobu! 25. Gregory Jbara: The Standard Grill right now is open now till four o’clock in the morning, and they have a phenomenal menu. They have great waitstaff and you can always get a great meal, after the rest of the town is shut down. I’d recommend the oysters. They have a phenomenal selection of east-coast oysters. Also, they serve an appetizer of dried-crust cheese with English radishes. And you look at it on the table and you go, ‘What am I supposed to do with that — plant a garden?!’ And then you taste it, and you go, ‘This is a brilliant, original way to start a meal.’ Corner Bistro has the best burgers, but, if you want the best glass of wine and want to sample wines, you go to Dell’anima, which is down just south of 14th on 8th Avenue. 26. Peyton List: I love going to Dylan’s Candy Bar. I always go there and get treats or chocolates. I, actually, love the bakery called “Baked.” They have the best Chocolate Cloud cookies. What’s that? It’s a chocolate cookie, and it’s really thick and I love it, ’cause it’s so chocolatey, and I love chocolate! 27. Greg Bello: Oh, Jesus! Oh, I can’t give away all those secrets; then everyone’s gonna find out and they’re not going to be hot anymore. I don’t know what to tell you! Actually, probably, the Boom Boom Room is the hottest room in the city right now. 28. Allen Coulter: Del Posto, Peasants, Ouest –said with a French accent, but I can’t do it, Barney Greengrass. 29. Tate Ellington: ‘Cause I live in the Williamsburg area, one of my favorite places is DuMont. DuMac and Cheese is one of the greatest meals I’ve had in New York. There’s a place called Barcade which is pretty wonderful, as far as a bar, but it’s gettin’ a little packed, nowadays, but it’s a good place and the bartenders are nice. Huckleberry Bar is a nice, little cocktail lounge. 30. Peggy Siegal: Oh, I like the Monkey Bar. I like the new Jean-Georges restaurant at The Mark Hotel. I like 21, the Four Seasons, Michael’s, the Waverly Inn, the Standard Hotel. What else have I missed? I don’t know. Any favorite dishes? No, I’m always on a diet!

New York: Top 10 Free Bar Snacks

imageIn a time when even airlines have scrapped free peanut service, a few righteous New York institutions are keeping their patrons in gratis bar snacks that are a far cry from stale Chex Mix. Almost makes the rising martini costs worth it.

10. Buffalo wings and nachos @ Rodeo Bar (Kips Bay) – Any place where the bar’s made out of a repurposed horse trailer knows the value of free. The kitschy hangout offers wings and nachos during happy hour, Monday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. 9. Truffled popcorn @ Desnuda (East Village) – The tiny ceviche bar has no kitchen, so the chef prepares seafood dishes right behind the bar. The view would be positively torturous without the bottomless paper cone of popcorn to nosh from, seasoned with just enough truffle salt. 8. Tater tots @ Trash (Williamsburg) – The Brooklyn dive is the sort of place that wouldn’t card you as a teenager — so it’s only fitting that they offer the cafeteria classic. Who knew tots complimented two-dollar PBR so well?

7. Antipasti @ Il Mulino (Greenwich Village) – Leaves no customer unstuffed, starting with free helpings of antipasti circulated through the restaurant and bar areas. 6. Soft pretzels and roasted almonds @ Blaue Gans (Tribeca) – The cozy German restaurant boasts one of New York’s most perfect pretzels, served to bar patrons upon request along with buttery almonds that’ll make it tough to ever go back to beer nuts. 5. Pizza @ Alligator Lounge (Williamsburg) and Crocodile Lounge (East Village) – The bi-borough bars have made their respective presences known by offering a free personal pizza with every drink, making each a great place to start or end a casual night out. 4. Panini @ Vero Midtown (Midtown East) – Every Monday night, the wine bar serves its crispy, cheesy panini with every drink order. 3. Cheese spread @ Blind Tiger Ale House (West Village) – The after-work appeal of Blind Tiger skyrockets during Wednesday’s happy hour (starting at 5 p.m.), when free cheese from neighborhood institution Murray’s is offered to patrons. 2. Free appetizers @ dell’anima (West Village) – From 4 to 6 p.m. on weekends, the acclaimed trattoria serves a variety of small Italian plates. 1. Curried popcorn @ Tailor (Soho): Serious drinkers swear by Tailor’s curry-dusted popcorn, which holds its own next to the mixologist-approved cocktail menu.

NYC Openings: L’Artusi, Mr. Jones, Macao Trading Co.

L’Artusi (West Village) – Italian eatery dell’anima’s newer, bigger brother resto. ● Mr. Jones (Union Square) – Japanese-Danish fusion. Also, Japanese with no sushi on the menu. ● Macao Trading Co. (Tribeca) – Call it what you like — we prefer “Asian-fusion-whatever” — but Macao’s prospects aren’t a gamble.

New York: Top 5 New Restaurants for Recession Times

imageNew spots that won’t break ya’…

1. Ippudo Ramen King Shigemi Kawahara brings super-authentic, super-addictive pork broths to the G.V. 2. Tre Tweaked Italian amid flickering candlelight. Haute cuisine, trattoria prices. 3. Artichoke Basille’s Lines out the block for our latest pizza addiction.

4. dell’anima Open kitchen fills the boisterous space with tantalizing, savory scents. 5. Mermaid Inn Uptown Everybody’s favorite seafood shack stakes a claim.