Beat the Heat with Meat This Weekend at Meatopia

Unless you’re such a ninny that you never leave your air conditioned apartment, there will be no avoiding the heat in New York this weekend. So if you’re courageous enough to sally forth and seek your sultry adversary, I recommend visiting a place where your flesh will be far cooler than the flesh that surrounds you. Meatopia is coming to Brooklyn on Saturday, and with mountains of seared meat on offer, you’ll realize that no matter how hot your bod is feeling, it could be a whole lot worse.

Dubbed “the Woodstock of edible animals,” Amstel Light Meatopia (presented by Whole Foods) will bring together nearly 50 of the nation’s top chefs at Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, July 23, to grill up amazing cuts of beef, pork, lamb, duck, and countless other cloven-hoofed critters. Come meet meat stars such as Aaron Sanchez, Seamus Mullen, and Michael Psilakis (Kefi, among others) as they work their culinary magic on red-hot barbecue grills. And lest you forget just how your steak gets from farm to belly, you’ll be schooled on the various breeds by the farmers who raise them as they chat about what the animals ate and how they lived.

What else? Live music, awesome views of New York Harbor, and a spirited display of knife and cleaver skills, as Whole Foods Market will be presenting the finals of its national butcher contest, live on stage. Watch those fingers fly! (Wait, that didn’t come out right.)

Of course, food ain’t nothing without drink to wash it down with. Plenty of ice-cold Amstel Light will be available for quaffing, along with rivers of refreshing Fiji Water to keep you hydrated and happy under the summer sun.

The event will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 pm, and you can buy tickets (which range from “Meatizen General” to “Carnesseur” to the VIP “Meat Elite” package) here. Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys. Scarf in good health.

Where Celebs Go Out: Becki Newton, Olivia Munn, Summer Glau

Becki Newton at the NBC Upfront Fall Preview: I love a lot of the Greek restaurants in New York, like Kefi on the Upper West Side. The lemon chicken there is really good and tastes like the one my Greek mother-in-law makes. ● J.J. Abrams: Street and Company, in Portland, Maine, has these amazing, skillet-cooked shallots and garlic-and-butter and white-wine scallops [with] linguini. It’s unbeatable. ● Summer Glau: Mozza in L.A. I like everything there, all their pastas.

Olivia Munn: Crustacean in Beverly Hills, the Vietnamese-fusion restaurant. I like the garlic noodles and lobster. ● Blair Underwood: Cafe Habana, the food and the music were incredible. I had some chicken-and-pineapple thing that was working! ● Jesse Metcalfe: I had a great dinner last night at Stanton Social, on the Lower East Side. The food was amazing, just incredible tapas and I stuffed myself, great ambiance. I like to see live music. In L.A., I would do the Troubadour, a lot of history, also The Roxy. ● Paul Reiser: I’m less selective. In New York City, there’s really no place to eat but Tribeca Grill is one of my favorites. ● Tina Fey: My favorite restaurant in New York is Giuliano’s, at 50th and Ninth. ● Cheryl Hines: I love Tao, the miso sea bass is a favorite. ● Jenny Slate: Buttermilk Channel on Court Street in Brooklyn. The seared skirt skate comes with a marrow bone, it’s delicious. Favorite bar is the Black Rabbit in Greenpoint. ● Nasim Pedrad: Josie’s on the Upper West Side, great tofu salad. ● Greg Grunberg: Taverna Tony’s in Malibu, a Greek restaurant, just love it, the grilled, baby octopus is my favorite. We’re about to go to The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. ● Mary Elizabeth Ellis: Blair’s in my neighborhood in Silver Lake. I love the cannelloni stuffed with ratatouille.

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!

Super Bowl Catering: Bringing New York’s Best Bites Home

The Super Bowl is an event not just because of the football, but because of the food. It’s an excuse to get plastered and snack on unfashionably delicious bar food on a Sunday afternoon, football fan or not. The wonderful thing about this is that restaurants often “go deep” and present their offerings in a catering-friendly form, so you can either (A) come to the party with the best snacks or (B) host one at your own digs, and not have to worry about preparing oven-baked sheet after sheet of Pizza Rolls and Bagel Bites, or even worse, trying to get someone to deliver during the game. Of course, there’s always pizza, which you can order a few hours before the day of, but why go for the normal grub when you can hit something slightly more exotic. In other words: which restaurants are helping New Yorkers get one through the uprights, and bringing forth good grub to the game?

Momofuku Ssam Bar All those who place their bets on David Chang to deliver the goods will be pleased to know that he’s again offering the Bo Ssam — a motherlode of whole slow-roasted pork shoulder, with all the fixings: napa kimchi, ginger scallion sauce, caramelized onion, horseradish crème fraiche, bibb lettuce — along with some awesome sides–smoked chicken wings, red onion cole slaw, yukon gold potato salad, baked adzuki beans with bacon–and one of the best desserts the MomoEmpire has to offer–a dozen compost cookies–for $325 this year. Better get on it, though: today (February 4th) is the last day they’re going to be taking orders. Not exactly a hail mary, though: Momofuku’s a pretty surefire bet, year-to-year, Super Bowl or not.

BLT Burger The haute Village burger stand (whose burger received notable approval from us last year) rolls out their own special for four, eight, or 15 people (priced respectively at $60, $120, $225). They’re packing in burgers, fried snacks (onion rings, skinny fries, sweet potato fries, waffle fries, fried dill pickles), along with chicken wings and waffle bites. Even better, orders can be places and picked up the day of the game, but call ’em in early, unless you feel like missing the halftime show.

Kefi Upper West Siders going slightly more highbrow than the average fried fatfest can hit up star chef Michael Psilakis’ casual Greek digs for something a little more exotic than the typical Super Bowl spread. 6-8 people can get Psilakis’ homemade pita “chips” with tzatziki dip, hummus, Greek salad and Kefi’s meatballs — which are, by far and away, the restaurant’s standout dish — along with spinach mac and cheese, some Spetsofai pasta (rigatoni, sausage and peppers), and your choice of Souvlaki or Roasted Chicken, which also comes with a side of lemon potatoes. You can call in an order to the restaurant for $49.95 day of, and get it delivered in the neighborhood at no extra charge. That said, someone’s working on the Super Bowl, delivering your food, while you’re partying. Tip well, lest you get sacked by bad karma.

MacBar One of those party dishes nobody’s ever gone wrong with, ever — Mac and Cheese — can be brought to the table in a style naturally befitting New Yorkers, which is to say, a variety of flavors including truffle oil, lobster, any number of cheeses, among others. MacBar’s got 12 different flavors, and they’re putting the entire menu up for catering 16 to 20 people, priced anywhere from $40 – $70. Orders need to be placed at least by Saturday, and when you pick ’em up, make sure you get a cabbie who can keep the meter running, lest you get stuck on a Nolita corner with a massive tureen of hot, gooey noodles without a ride to move ’em.

Acme Bar & Grill and Great Jones Cafe We couldn’t make a list without giving due diligence to New Orleans fans, who have some of the best native food in the country. Good Cajun food’s hard to find in the city, but Acme does delivery via Seamless Web, and they have an entire menu of PoBoys and a kitchen that could pull oof a party of ’em. It certainly isn’t the “fanciest” of the options here, but it’ll get the trick done. For superior Cajun grub, Great Jones (as the smaller restaurant) might merit a little more advance notice and a little more convincing, but will definitely bring tasty game to the table for New York’s dedicated, displaced WHO DAT nation who can’t (and shouldn’t) be bothered to cook that day.

Finally, Bar-B-Que‘s a sport in and of itself in New York, so it deserves a few options. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que doesn’t have a specific Super Bowl catering menu, per se, but they do have some of the best meat in town, and as they’re located all the way uptown, they’re not going to be as slammed as some of the other places you might end up at. South Brooklyn should head to the Smoke Joint, arguable the best in the borough, though North Brooklyn’s meat-on-meat destination Fette Sau in Williamsburg would beg to differ. Smoke Joint will come correct on the sides, while Fette Sau comes correct with all kinds of meat, though their side selection is limited. For Manhattanites, Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke is a wee bit pricy, but solid, and Indy fans will appreciate their care for the midwest’s BBQ stylings; Wildwood‘s located a few blocks south, is cheaper, and has a bigger menu for those who want to reach outside the realm of more typical offerings, but Hill Country has the best of all worlds: good meat, great sides, reasonable prices, and most importantly, will deliver Sweet Tea in a mason jar for you. If that’s not Southern Hospitality, what is? Well, Upper East Siders can find out: the Justin Timberlake-associated Southern Hospitality does take-out, too.

Where’s ‘Harry Potter’s Emma Watson Gonna Go Out As A Columbia Student?

6. Amsterdam 106 (Upper West Side) – Serves breakfast all night long with hospitality similar to that at Hogwarts.

4. Kefi – Once she ditches the Harry Potter crew and recruits her own clique, Emma will probably host girl’s lunches at fellow young-beautiful-successful worldly personality Donatella Arpaia’s haven to haute cheap Greek fare.

3. Jake’s Dilemma – Granted, the drinking age in America’s a tragic 21 for Watson, but once she secures a fake ID (as a Columbia student? Inevitable…), chances are, Emma will end up throwing one back here. It’s a great spot for British ex-pats and fellow Londoners homesick for a taste of London.

2. Dovetail – When Emma’s squeeze, Jay Barrymore, comes to visit, they might have to go out on a schoolnight. If that’s the case, and they stay in the approximate neighborhood, it’s a solid bet they’d end up at this intimate Upper West Side resto with a menu for pretty sophisticated—or at least, pretty-pretty—palates.

1. The Heights – No question, every Columbia student will end up here at some point or another, as it’s the de facto late night drinking destination

Industry Insiders: Donatella Arpaia, Sleek in Greek

Once upon a time, restaurateur Donatella Arpaia was a corporate lawyer. Nine restaurants, several TV show appearances (including guest judging on The Food Network’s Iron Chef America, and Bravo’s Top Chef), and one Michelin Star-honored eatery later, New York foodies are grateful for the legal system not being her cup of tea. Donatella recently made time out of her insanely busy schedule to talk with us about what it’s like being a powerful presence in the restaurant business, how she felt about her partner (and executive chef of Anthos, Kefi, Mia Dona, and the newly opened Eos in Miami as well as Gus and Gabriel in New York) Michael Psilakis cooking for President Obama, and why she’s excited about Cooking in Heels.

So, I hear you’re currently filming in California. Can you tell me what for? A show for The Food Network. I can’t really say the name of the show right now, but that’s what I’m doing.

You just began guest blogging with the women’s company, iVillage. What sort of advice will you be giving? I’m writing the blog as we speak. I had a couple conversations with the iVillage people, and at first they said, ‘We just want the life of a restaurateur,’ and I think that’s great, and that’s really a part of who I am, but it should also relate to women across America. Sometimes my life can seem so glamorous, and it’s so not. I’m going to talk about my restaurants and what it’s like, but also aspects of being a woman in business, because I always try to lay it out, and I think everything is relatable: how to deal with difficult people, how to manage recipes that I’m making in the cookbook, how I entertain when I don’t have time. I really want it to be my life, and all the aspects of it, and the restaurateur is part of it, but I don’t want it to be all that. Anything and everything about my life—that’s what I’m doing.

You are now the face of a significant lifestyle brand. Back when you were a lawyer, did you ever consider—or hope—that would happen? I remember when I left law for the restaurant business, and it was like I was in a candy store; I was so happy. If you’d asked me ten years ago if I knew I’d end up where I was, I don’t think so, but I’ve always known that I was, extremely driven from a young age. I would say in the past few years of doing this, people were constantly interested in how I lived my life—from how I dress, to my home, to how I cook, to how I manage people. I had so many women coming up to me every day, looking to me for advice, and I really like giving advice and I like mentoring, and apparently they were interested in what I had to say. I have a restaurant background, and I just happened to know a lot about food, and hosting, and how to throw a party—because I do it for my life—and how to do it when you’re very busy. And also, at the same time, remember that I am a woman, and I’m on display all the time, and I have to manage my weight, my look, my everything. My life became an example of how to deal, of how to live and how to advise people, so I kind of became a natural.

How did your relationship with Michael Psilakis come to be? Michael and I met about seven, eight years ago. A mutual friend told me about this guy who was cooking Italian food on Long Island. I grew up on Long Island, so I was like, it can’t be good, because I know what Long Island food is all about. But this foodie friend of mine was like, ‘No, this guy is amazing!’ So, I went out there, and he cooked this ten-course tasting for me, and it was just unbelievable. So we became friends. And he really was a self-taught—and when I say self-taught, I mean no culinary school, no other chefs. And so we were talking for a while, and I had just opened up David Burke & Donatella, to tremendous success, and I knew David and I were very successful there, but that’s where it was going to end. So, I said, ‘Michael, you’re Greek. There’s a gazillion Italian restaurants out there, but no one has taken Greek cuisine to another level. That’s what you should do.’ He went all Greek, finally, when we opened up Anthos, which is the only Greek Michelin Star restaurant in the country. Then we just started expanding—Kefi, Eos, we’re about to open Gus & Gabriel—and I think it’s the strength of the partnership, and partnerships are not always easy: restaurants fail you; people don’t always know what they’re doing; they just got into it because they think they have a perception of what it is; they’re either under-funded; they’re successful in the partnerships but the ego gets in the way. That’s something that we have to work on by communicating constantly, and we really are supportive of each other. The more press he gets, I’m happy; the more press I get, he’s happy, because it just comes back to that common goal. For most people, it’s a simple thing, in theory, but in reality, it’s very hard to facilitate.

How did you feel when Michael was asked to cook for Obama? I was upset that I wasn’t going with him! It was just this spectacular moment. I remember that we were sitting down, and he’d just read the review for Kefi, and he wasn’t happy with it—even though the restaurant is a tremendous success—and then he gets a call from the secret service. We thought it was a joke, almost. They were like, ‘We want you to cook for Obama in two days.’ It was just the biggest whirlwind. I said, ‘Mike, this will never be the day where you got a bad review in the New York Times, it will be the day you got a call to cook for Obama! It’s awesome!’ And he said it was the most thrilling experience. He met Obama and he said, ‘He’s very tall, much taller than I’d thought, and he was just so nice. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.’

Do you get to veto menu items, or do you leave that entirely up to Michael? We both have our defining roles in our restaurants, where I’m more front, and he’s more back. But that being said, if he sees a problem with service, he’s going to say something; if I see a problem with food, I’m going to say something. And when we do taste things in the beginning, we’re so much a part of everything. Especially, for example, the Italian cuisine at Mia Dona, because that really is my background and it’s reflecting my heritage and my food—I had a lot more to say in that area. But I’ve never vetoed anything; it’s not like that. I would never say, ‘Take that off the menu,’ because we don’t have that kind of relationship. Everything is talked about, and he asks my opinion, and we have a very open relationship in that way, which is great. But, he’s so talented that we don’t really run into that at all.

At this point, is opening a new restaurant always a new experience, or does it start to feel ordinary? No, it never feels ordinary. I think it’s because we’re not opening a chain restaurant, we’re always expanding into new cuisines and new concepts. When we first opened Dona and Anthos, I was known for the glamour, the high-end, and he was known for the cerebral foodie-chef. Next, we opened Mia Dona, which was casual, rustic Italian, and people had problems with that, because people like to define you in the press. But in the end, it’s worked to our advantage, because it gives us a lot more breadth. And then we opened up Kefi, and now we’ve opened Eos, which for the first time is a small plate concept, and it has Spanish influence, and Latin influence, and that’s really a result of being in Miami and understanding that market, so that’s exciting to Michael, too. And then we come back here, and we’ve got Gus & Gabriel’s, which is an American gastro-pub. Every opening is always exciting, and always hard. I don’t know if it gets easier. I mean, I think we know more. It was a little less intense this time, but it’s still exciting to me.

Do you think that the recession will prove to be the end of fine dining, or do you think restaurants will just have to reinvent this concept? No, I don’t think that fine dining is going to die. I think it’s going to go through a very difficult time right now, and I think it’s because there was a lot of excess going on, and there was a lot of mediocrity out there that was doomed, no matter what. People want comfort; they don’t want to pay $10 for a glass of water. But, ultimately, and eventually, I think that it will come back. It’s kind of like when you look at fashion: the need for couture, as opposed to the need for ready-wear—that’s the comfort. I’m not afraid to say it—we’re in a bad economy, and ours is the one that got hit the most. I like to be realistic about things and then deal with it, and we struggle because we don’t want to compromise our brand, change it, or dumb it down. You can’t.

Have you altered your restaurants in any way to make them a bit more recession-proof? At Anthos, we decided to take the banquet room, which we used for corporate parties, and we turned it into Anthos Upstairs, which is tapas-style, small plates, where people can eat Anthos food, but a different version of it. It’s a little more accessible. So, that’s helping us right now, because that’s become very busy. And I think Anthos is still doing relatively well, compared to other restaurants that are completely dead. Even though it’s a high-end restaurant, it was never exaggerated—the price for what we offer—and I think we will survive these times. Like anything else, the strong will survive.

What advice can you give to those restaurants that are struggling? I’ve always stressed hospitality, service, and personal attention. Instead of going out to a fancy restaurant three times a week, or once every two weeks, somebody is going to go back to the place where you cared about them—whether times are good or bad. And I think that’s something that I’ve always stressed, and that’s a big part of what I bring to the front of the house. I’m obsessed with service, in terms of technique and hospitality. You can’t fake it—it’s like a relationship.

Of all your restaurants, which has your favorite menu, or your favorite selections? I always get that question, and it’s like asking which child I like the best. I think that Anthos is truly something special, because I don’t think that you can get that food anywhere—in the country, or the world. I’m so impressed, constantly, with the quality of the food we put out on such a consistent basis. It’s so inventive, and so different, and yet it still takes you home. When I go to Mia Dona, I love the Zeppole; they’re not oily or doughy. And I would say the Gnudi—it’s the signature dish, and I love it to death.

In terms of the décor, do you aim to conceive restaurants that reflect your personality, or do you think your restaurants take on individual personas of their own? That’s a good question. This is something that Michael and I focus on more and more with each restaurant. We make our mistakes and we learn, [but] everything has to come back to the same message. Like Kefi is a rustic Greek restaurant, so everything should be in your face that says rustic Greek. Maybe that’s not my style, but I appreciate it, and I think that it’s the right type of décor for that restaurant. I think there are other restaurants that have reflected my style, like davidburke & donatella, and Dona, which I really had a lot of say in. I love the idea of getting dressed up to go out—I think that it’s a lost art in New York—and I like to create restaurants where you feel good in, and you feel pretty. So, it depends. I mean, Mia Dona was really casual. We had to do a casual restaurant, and it was a difficult space: it’s a long, railroad space, so I came up with the idea of doing different rooms—a lounge, a living room and a library. And I have a say in everything, and if I don’t like something it’s not going to be in there, no matter what. But you have to cater it to what the identity of the restaurant is, and then, ultimately, the restaurant decides what it wants to be.

When you’re not eating at one of your restaurants, where do you like grab a bite? For pizza there’s a new café that I’m just adoring—it’s called Keste—on Bleecker Street. For sushi, I love [Sushi] Yasuda. For traditional Italian food I go to Fiorini—they have the best eggplant parmesan, and the fact that it’s my Dad’s restaurant has nothing to do with it, I swear! For Indian, I love Dawat; the tandoori chicken with rice is just incredible. Jean-Georges is still an icon to me, and I love going to his restaurant for a special occasion.

You’ve got an entertainment guide and cookbook coming out, no? Cooking in Heels. I think it really talks to the girl that I want to talk to—the 25-to-40, urban girl; [she’s] very bright, very stylish, very busy, and very used to doing things well, but when it comes to cooking, she was never taught and doesn’t have a clue. I think there’s really not a voice out there talking to that girl. The menu items are largely Mediterranean, and there’s cooking, but there’s also the presentation that’s involved. That comes out in Spring 2010.

New York: Top 10 Places to Break Up Before Valentine’s Day

imageBreakin’ up may be hard to do in the best of circumstances, but calling it quits before Valentine’s Day is in a league of discomfort all its own. Avoiding an awkward situation is key, but as matchmaker extraordinaire Amy Laurent points out — “breaking up via email, text message or even over the phone shows cowardice and immaturity.” With that in mind, here’s a list of spots that make breaking up right before Valentine’s Day just a wee bit easier (or at least more survivable).

10. Rick’s Cabaret & Steakhouse (Garment District) – Soothe the blow by offering to buy your ex a lap dance. 9. Bagatelle (Meatpacking District) – So loud no one will notice your yelling match. 8. Go see He’s Just Not That Into You – Blame it on the eye-opening film.

7. Shang (Soho) – Should your ex go bizerk, this LES spot is located in the Thompson LES, which extends from Orchard Street to Allen Street (meaning it has two exits) — so you can excuse yourself and peace out discreetly. 6. Koi (Midtown West) – Break up over cocktails, then head across the street and try your hand at picking up a model at the Bryant Park Fashion Week tents. 5. Dylan’s Candy Bar (Upper East Side) – Even amidst a nauseating amount of heart-shaped candy, nothing helps beat the blues quite like chocolate. 4. China 1 (East Village) – Cheap and tasty — so it’s all good even if your ex storms out, sticking you with the bill. 3. Kefi (Upper West Side) – Those worried about chickening-out can take shots from the city’s only ouzo machine, which cranks-out refreshing liquid courage, before the deed is done. 2. Supper Club – Pass your ex along via the sociable folks at Supper Club who are hosting a dinner where they’re asking each attending member to bring a single whom they deem a potential fit for someone else in attendance. 1. Greenhouse (Soho) – Do the deed, then “accidentally” get lost in the crowd.