National Spaghetti Day Exists, So Fill Up On Carbs

We aren’t entirely sure where these national food days have come from, or who decides what each day means for what day. But for today, since its National Spaghetti Day, it’s a great excuse to eat a bowl of pasta or two.

The most recent addition to the land of pasta is Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, an Italian pasta company that opened a restaurant in the Chelsea Market in November. There, you can get an array of dishes including ravioli with artichoke and smoke mozzarella, and chestnut tagliatelle with guinea fowl ragu. Or get fresh pasta to go like the chili-garlic pappardelle or lobster stuffed mezzaluna.

For an old school Italian experience, the 30-year-old Marco Polo in Brooklyn serves scrumptious plates of squid ink tagliolini and fettuccini with red wine sauce, which gets tossed in a wheel of Parmesan. In the same vain, the king of Italian cuisine Mario Batali serves luscious bowls of pumpkin cappellacci and spaghetti with Dungeness crab and jalapeno at the popular Del Posto.

Scarpetta too makes a mean spaghetti with tomato and basil, and you can’t go wrong with a plate of linguine with clam sauce at Esca. If you want to go for the stars, celebrate this pseudo holiday at Robert De Niro’s Locanda Verde, where you can get a plate of papperdelle with ragu or lumache with duck sausage and broccoli rabe.

Of course, today, and any day, is a good time to hit up Il Buco Alimentari andVineria, which is one of the best new Italian spots to open in 2012. Fuel up now, you can start you New Year’s diet tomorrow.

New York’s Best Restaurants For Big Groups

Besides being asked “when are you cleaning your bathroom” by my mom and “do you have boyfriend” by my local bodega owner, the third most popular question I’m asked every week is this: “ I’m having a party; where can I bring a big group?” And since everyone loves to eat, drink, and be merry with a core group of best friends and peripheral acquaintances – and since it’s easier for me to send a link and not discuss this anymore – I’ve gathered a list of New York’s Best Restaurants For Big Groups. This is a special list, teeming with everything from strawberry-cinnamon baby back ribs in Williamsburg, a Cuban fantasyland in the East Village, stone fireplaces in the West Village, and a really cool picture of dogs. Enjoy.

4 Out of 5: Toni Hinterstoisser on New York

Toni Hinterstoisser is general manager of Andaz Wall Street, which opened in February 2010. He has more than 15 years of experience in the international hospitality industry and lives in New York wit his wife and daughter. This is his take on four places he likes, and one place he doesn’t.

RECOMMENDED

Hundred Acres – "I was shopping in Soho for my daughter’s birthday and I stumbled up this spot for a rest. There are these beautiful French Doors that open onto MacDougal Street. The cocktails are delicious, the food is wonderful, and their bread pudding dessert is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The service was friendly but very, very efficient. All in all, it’s become one of my go-to places."

Keens Steakhouse – "I was searching for a great spot to take my executive team to for a celebratory meal. I wanted something that was quintessential New York City. A member of our public relations team mentioned Keen’s as it is one of New York City’s oldest steakhouses, and there is a rich history of New Yorkers and celebrities that have dined there over the years. Learning about the members of the Pipe Club at Keen’s (including Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and Albert Einstein) was so interesting to me and taught me more about the history of NYC. And the steak is delicious."

Minas Shoe Repair – "The guy that owns it is an icon, and the shoe shine is world class. Best shoe repair in New York City. In fact, the best I’ve experienced in the many countries I’ve lived in. I would travel long distances to have him care for my shoes."

Raines Law Room – "This place feels like you’ve discovered a secret. You walk down the steps of an unmarked building and find a doorbell. You ring it and all of a sudden are lead into a room that can only be described as a piece of history. The cocktails are handcrafted and delicious, and all you need to do is ring one of the bells at your table to summon one of the lovely waitstaff. Service is impeccable, drinks are perfection, and the atmosphere transports you to another time. Great to take out-of-towners to …  it shocks them every time. I love the look of awe on their face. Makes me feel very cool."

NOT SO MUCH

Locande Verde – "I loved Locande Verde when it first opened, but I feel as if the service and product have lost a bit of their luster. The cocktails don’t feel or taste the same, and the food has lost much of the ‘wow’ factor I loved it for. I used to frequent quite a bit, but haven’t been back in quite some time."

Mystery Chef Revealed: Exquisite Corpse at Le Grand Fooding NYC 2011

You know that mystery chef we mentioned — the blind recluse opening a 52-hour popup restaurant in Chelsea next month? Well, he doesn’t exist. Or rather, he does exist, and his name is legion. That’s because he’s a culinary amalgam of 13 for-real superchefs, all contributing their talents and grub to 13 individual seatings for Le Grand Fooding NYC 2011. You would be well advised to buy from our special allotment presale tickets, available as of right now. But who exactly makes up the exquisite corpse of the mythical Nikoalan Nselurfueymardcora?

That would be Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde and The Dutch in New York City); Hugue Dufour (M. Wells in New York City); Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf, of Dranouter, Belgium); Armand Arnal (La Chassagnette of Arles, France); Ana Ros (HiSa Franko of Kobarid, Slovenia); Sat Bains (Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham, UK); Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington State); Fulvio Pierangelini (Hotel de Russie, Rome); Brooks Headley (Del Posto in New York City); Mauro Colagreco (Le Mirazur of Menton, France); Adeline Grattard (Yam’tcha in Paris); Corey Lee (Benu in San Francisco); and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy).

Quite a lineup, brought to you by sponsor dollars from the lines of Veuve Clicquot, Mastercard, and San Pellegrino. Now you can only buy tickets for the 9/24 and 9/25 seatings via our link, but you only miss out on Carmellini; everyone else is working round the clock on the other days. There’s only a handful of tickets available for each one, so act fast.

Industry Insiders: Jason LaGarenne, Anchors Aweigh

Jason LaGarenne, General Manager of The Anchor, is setting sail for unknown territory this fall and opening a bar/restaurant/nightclub with Gunther Bilali (pictured Right), an investor in The Anchor. Although details are slim at this point, the future partners agreed to give BlackBook a sneak peak and a few hints about the new joint. After three and a half years at the West Soho establishment, where business is still booming, LaGarenne decided to split his nightlife know-how (having previously worked at Hamptons hot spots Star Room and Conscience Point) between his old haunt and a new gig. More after the jump.

Backstory: I’m originally from Brooklyn. I went to high school out in the Hamptons, where I met a lot of people involved with nightlife and that’s how I got started working in the clubs out there. I was at Conscience Point when Lizzie Grubman drove the car through the crowd. That was my first summer there, maybe the third day I was working.

On the new joint: We’re keeping the location quiet right now. We just started the construction phase. It doesn’t have a name yet, but I can tell you that it’s going to feature three distinct spaces under one roof, and we’re not going to go down the familiar route of bottle service. We’re putting together a nightlife all-star team. Now, everyone’s coming to Soho, so we’re going below Canal Street. We’re trying to stay away from everyone else. It’s a few blocks below Canal in TriBeCa. It’s a space we’ve had our eyes on for a while. We’re shooting to open during fashion week in the fall

On filling the void: We feel like there’s a lack of creativity in nightlife. It’s just like one club is copying the next club. All of the clubs that opened in the past couple of years say they’re going to do something different than bottle service as soon as they open they do the same old route, the same bottle hustle. So we want to try to do something more creative.

On bottle service alternatives: Someone is always going to want to buy a bottle and you can always offer that. But when I say a bottle service venue what I mean is the places where getting in is dependent on how many bottles you buy. That kind of attracts a generic crowd. That’s why all the clubs are just homogenized. It’s the same people, you hear the same promoters involved, it’s the same kind of crowd. For a while, that happened with the finance crowd and created a really dull environment. If getting through the door is dependent on how much money you spend, that isolates a lot of people. The coolest people aren’t necessarily going to come in and spend $5,000 or $10,000 on a table.

On the reasonable doormen at The Anchor: Some people that work the door have a sense of humor about it. Our doormen are really funny. We’ve had a couple different characters out there and they’re just nice to people. You come up to the door, you’re going to a place to go out and have fun and dance and spend money. Do you want to be met by a complete asshole at the door? That kind of sets the tone. We don’t abuse people. The people that don’t get in are the people that have the attitude of doormen at other clubs, if that makes sense.

On the ‘celebrity hangout’ aspect: When there are celebrities in there, they just mix with everyone. They’re at the bar drinking. We don’t hide them in a corner or show them off. When Kanye West came in, he left his security guards in the car and just walked in and was hanging out at the bar. Kirsten Dunst comes up and just orders drinks at the bar and buys drinks. They’re not off in a corner with a bottle and security guards. Generally, people have responded very well to it. We don’t have people snapping camera phone pictures and going up to them. They’re just part of the crowd

On being star struck: I don’t really get star struck. I’m more impressed with people that have actual talent. Like when DJ AM was DJing, that was amazing. I was excited by Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols.

Drink of choice: My favorite drink is just a straight, all-natural margarita. A version of it with Partida Reposado, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.

Go-to places? I use to hit up all the clubs but I’m pretty tired of it. Lately, I’ve been going to Painkiller. I go to Locanda Verde and for old school Italian, definitely FIlli Ponte Restaurant in TriBeCa.

Areas he’s over: Any of the meatpacking places. I just avoid that whole area. There’s a large influx of douche bags that go there now.

Locanda Verde Sequel Coming Soon

Earlier in the week, we dished about the fire-roasted chicken at The Greenwich Hotel’s Locanda Verde. It’s oh-so-tasty, as is everything there, but scoring a reservation or a walk-in table in under two hours is no easy feat at the Italian hotspot, which has been known to attract celebs from Keanu Reeves to Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Thankfully, Locanda Verde’s chef Andrew Carmellini has just announced plans to open another restaurant.

On his website, under a new “Opening Soon” section, Carmellini says a second restaurant at 131 Sullivan Street in Soho is in the works. He signed the lease last November, and he’ll run it with his operating partners from Locanda Verde, Luke Ostrom and Josh Pickard. The new place is set to open in mid-September, and, whatever it is, it won’t be Italian. The restaurant will be designed by Roman & Williams, the same team behind The Breslin at The Ace Hotel, so we can bet that it will look as good as Carmellini’s food tastes.

The Dish: Locanda Verde’s Fire-Roasted Garlic Chicken

What: Fire-Roasted Garlic Chicken Where: Locanda Verde, Chef Andrew Carmellini’s casual, family-style Italian trattoria at The Greenwich Hotel. Ideal meal: When you’re craving large portions at a rustic, neighborhood-friendly joint, and you’ve planned ahead (reservations a must for dinner). Because: Any discerning food-lover will agree that chicken’s a tough one to get just right. Carmellini has perfected the process by preparing his in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven (formerly used for pizzas) and adding an understated portion of mushrooms, roasted peppers, and carrots to enhance (without overwhelming) the ample flavor dripping out of the crispy outer skin. Tastes like: Moist and simple, chicken done right. Bottom line: Available on the lunch and brunch menus for $19 and prepared for two at dinner for $21 a person. Sharing is encouraged, and it’s pretty close to impossible to leave this place hungry. Especially after tackling the dessert menu.

Industry Insiders: Farryn Weiner, Fly Girl

Farryn Weiner really loves her job. As the associate editor of Jetsetter, the flash-sales travel site allied with Gilt Groupe, the Miami native gets to peak around the four corners of the world in search of premier hotels, properties, and adventures for members of the site. Launched in September ’09 by Drew Patterson, formerly of Kayak, Jetsetter makes the decision to travel easy with incredible steals on hotel stays and members-only experiences. More after the jump on Farryn’s must-have travel tips and the story behind Jetsetter.

On catching the travel bug: I was an NYU undergrad and went on a semester at sea. We circumnavigated from Puerto Rico and ended up in San Diego. It really opened my eyes to all these amazing stories that you can tell through travel and the art of storytelling that was happening through my photography and my writing. I came back and totally changed my career path and started working as an assistant for Zac Posen. I ended up back in grad school doing a masters degree in travel content. I started freelancing and worked for National Geographic and Daily Candy.

On fitting in at Jetsetter: The moment I heard about Jetsetter, I was like, that has to be my job. When I came in to interview, we all just clicked. They’ve built a team of people who are passionate about what we do. We sit around and talk travel, we breathe travel. That’s what I was doing on my own, so I finally found a place where I wasn’t the odd man out. It was the norm to die over a new hotel or a new article.

What is Jetsetter, exactly? Our CEO, Drew Patterson, has two questions: where do I want to go next and where do I want to stay when I get there? He’d met with the founders of Gilt and thought that their flash sale model would be really well-suited to travel. We ended up working with them to develop Jetsetter, which is an online private sale site for people to come and find the world’s best experiences, best hotels, and even things like safaris and luxury cruises for a really great value.

On securing good deals: We have a really wonderful marketing model and the places that we pick are places that we’d actually go. We work with the properties to find a way to offer something exclusive to our members. The sales normally last 5-7 days, and gives members the opportunity to get in and get a great value that they can’t get anywhere else. People want to know how we pick our places, but it’s really just places we love. We want to send our members to places that they’re going to come home and brag about to their friends.

On loving the gig: When I’m in a bar and someone asks me what I do, I’m like, You do not want to ask me this right now. I might go on for an hour. It’s really exciting to be somewhere that’s growing and where people are passionate and really just love what we do. We’re crazy.

A typical day: On a normal day, I’m working with the writers. I’m working with the correspondents. I’m finding new properties. I have a writer right now in China who is just hearing about this new property that she thinks is perfect for us. I spent yesterday speaking with the people from that property, trying to see if they were interested, and developing these relationships. We want to work with people for the long run. If we put our stamp of approval on you, you’re a part of the family. A lot of what I do is putting together the bits and pieces of the writing, the photography, and, of course, the property. When I’m not in the office and I’m out in the field, I’m shooting for Jetsetter and I’m covering events. I was at Coachella and did a whole big spread. People were in Palm Springs for the first time. “Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I eat?” A perk of the job is being able to have those kinds of experiences and share those with our members.

Favorite destinations: I think everyone should go to Tokyo. It’s like New York in 20 years, or at least what you hope New York will be like in 20 years. I was just in Barcelona and then Turks and Caicos visiting Zanzibar Hotel which is such a perfect escape, especially for city goers, who really will feel comfortable hopping on flight and relaxing for a weekend. I’m dying to go to Napa Valley.

On the concierge aspect of Jetsetter: All of us are travelers and we want to share that information. Sometimes Drew will answer an e-mail at midnight because he wants to make sure that our member who’s out in St. Lucia knows exactly where to go. We all race to be the first person to answer! We also get tons of feedback and we listen to all of it. We’re very hands on.

Summer travel trends: The dollar’s getting stronger, the recession is subsiding slightly: people are starting to realize that they can do things that maybe in the last two years they haven’t been able to do. People are really looking for value. When they have one week off in the summer to take or they’re going to go on one big trip in the year, they want to get the best value. We’re seeing a lot of interesting bucket list trips like visiting the pyramids in Egypt. We sold an amazing Experience Galapagos cruise and we’ve seen such a peaked interest in things like this. We sold safaris in Africa and we did a trek up Kilimanjaro. They’re more than adventure trips, they’re those once-in-a -lifetime opportunities things that haven’t been all that financially accessible the last few years.

Tips on packing light: Pack half of what you think you should pack, and pack a duffle bag. On the way back, you can always take it out. You’re going to buy things. You’re going to have dirty laundry. Go there with a carry on. Don’t worry about coming back. I’m a big fan of versatile clothing—anything you can wear twice. If you can’t wear something out at night and during the day, then you probably don’t want to bring it.

Travel as a learning experience: You really need to be open to new experiences and you need to be ready for everything. Being prepared and cautious is important, but it’s more about being open-minded. For me, traveling with the right group of people is so important. It really can make or break a trip. When I was younger, I’d travel with friends. When I got older and started to have a really good sense of what I wanted to see and do, it became even more important to pick the right group of people that are on the same level .

Other favorite travel websites: TripIt is an amazing tool! It’s an online itinerary builder. You can forward them your flight information and they put that right into your itinerary. They give you a map of your itinerary. They give you the weather. They tell you when your flights are delayed. I get a TripIt update on my flight delays before I find out from the airline. You can import articles you find directly into your itinerary. You can also connect to other people. So, when I’m away, my friends, my sisters, and my parents can look online and see exactly where I am and where I’m staying and the phone number of the hotel. Kayak is great to book flights. I’m a fan of this woman who writes this blog called Eating Asia.

Go-to’s: Locanda Verde. One of the best meals I ever eaten. I couldn’t speak. Café Habana is one of my favorite restaurants. I love SL. Abe & Arthurs is a wonderful restaurant and it’s really fun to hang out downstairs. They always have really good music. The Jane Hotel. Morandi is the best lunch. Balthazar is a staple. I think Balthazar at 8 a.m. is secretly one of the best things to do in the city.

Where Celebs Go Out: Matt Damon, Snooki and Vinny

1. Matt Damon, after Green Zone press day: Oh, boy! There are so many great restaurants here. I like Bob De Niro’s place, Nobu. That’s a good one. 2. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi @ “Masks and Mayhem” Purim party @ Solo restaurant: Definitely, L.A., Voyeur, that club, I like it. ‘Cause I just like low-key stuff because, since I’ve been in the limelight, when I go to clubs, it’s just crazy. It’s hard to, actually, party and have a good time, because I usually go out with Pauly and Mike in L.A., and it’s just hard to party because everyone’s, like, ‘Oh!’ They go crazy. And we love that, but, yet again, we like to have our low times. So, Voyeur, definitely, a good place to go because there’s a lot of celebrities there, so we can actually relate with people.

3. Vinny Guadagnino : I don’t know. I’m not really a huge club person, so I do a lot of appearances. So lately, if I’m not at appearances, I’m really chillin’ home. But, definitely, nice places in Manhattan — Greenhouse, Mansion, Tenjune. I just eat at my mother’s house. I don’t really eat in restaurants. That’s all I can do. I’m sorry.

4. Skeery Jones: I’m a big fan of Tenjune and the new SL, downstairs from Abe & Arthur’s. That’s a really hot place. The party never dies at Greenhouse and Kiss & Fly. Those are my spots, right now. Restaurants, Locanda Verde. I’m a fan of the new Corsino, but I’m a fan of Del Posto. I like Morimoto; Morimoto’s fun. Stanton Social, always great with friends and a group of people. That party’s never gonna die. At Corsino, they do some wonderful flat breads–they do these, like, crostinis. They have a whole crostini menu. Any restaurant that has a menu just for crostinis has won my heart.

5. Sasha Antonova: Oh, my god! I live in the West Village and there are so many really good restaurants over there. It reminds me a little bit of Europe. If I would mention something, it would be French Roast. They have a special bread made with jam and eggs. I don’t know the exact recipe, but it’s delicious.

6. Eli Kirshtein: I’m not a really a club person. This is so alien to me. I like to chill and eat some decent foods. I’ve been hangin’ out at PDT alot, recently. I like Angel’s Share. I think David Chang’s concepts are fantastic, for just a casual place to hang out.

7. Radioman, a.k.a. Craig Schwarz, a.k.a. Craig Castaldo: Mostly, I wait around hotels or movie sets. I get people that way, get autographs. Sometimes, I might go to a bar, here and there, if someone’s around. What is that one on 18th Street? Avenue. I was there for an after after-party with Leonardo DiCaprio for Shutter Island, which, by the way, I have a small part in, playing a prisoner of war, psycho guy from the ’50s. You don’t recognize me because I have no beard. My hair’s cut short. I was the guy with the garden shears, at the very beginning. And I had the shackles on my feet and the handcuffs, and I’m lookin’ at Leo with a weird look. George Clooney’s flying me out to L.A.—a stopover in Vegas—and then from there, I’m going right to Burbank for the Oscars. I’ll be out there for several days. It’s one of those planes that stops and refuels. I go the cheapest way. And I stay at the Vagabond Inn—believe it or not, that’s the name of the place. And it’s out at Santa Monica and Vine. People should check it out. It’s really cool. They pay for the hotel, too. But I have to bring my own spending money. The hotel is near where the site is, for the Oscar’s, on Hollywood and Vine. And it’s homey. I like it because I can bring a bike inside. I don’t have any problems. And it’s only two floors, like, double level hotel, like a motel.