New York Openings: Kent Ale House, Lake Trout, Blue Collar

Williamsburg cuisine is all over the map. There’s no shortage of trendy, overpriced joints utilizing buzzwords like “locally sourced” and “micro-organic.” Sometimes, you just want something simple. Three of the nabe’s newest players provide a counterbalance to pretense. At Kent Ale House, Lake Trout, and Blue Collar you can find tried-and-true essentials that won’t make a dent in your finances.

Kent Ale House, across from Williamsburg Park, puts the emphasis on its smart selection of New York and New England craft beers. The menu covers snacks like spicy popcorn and sweet potato fries, as well as a “build your own burger” section with beef, bison, and veggie options. A pre-Prohibition mahogany bar from previous owners is still here, along with the requisite chalkboard, subway tile, and exposed bulbs. 
On the south side, Fette Sau‘s Matt Lang elevates the fried whiting sandwich, which you know from your marathon Wire sessions as lake trout. The interior doesn’t exactly put on airs, with Orioles-orange plastic chairs, rec room wood paneling, and Charm City sports legends on the wall. Lake Trout’s menu goes beyond its trademark sammy to include fried shrimp, chicken wings, and grandma’s crab cake recipe. Believe, hon.
At the same address you’ll find Blue Collar and its classic burgers and dogs. An efficient space pumps out West Coast-style patties that are cooked to order and won’t drain your wallet. The beer and wine isn’t on line yet, but in the meantime they’re serving creative milkshakes like peanut butter and cookies ‘n’ cream.

New York Openings: Rosco’s, Dieci Pizzeria & Osteria, Grimaldi’s

Pizza. It’s no secret what it means to New Yorkers. To say we take pride in it is to restate a cliché that stretches back generations. Brooklyn’s newest pie palaces all nod to tradition, updating a classic form with the fresh ingredients of today. From Prospect Heights (Rosco’s) to East Williamsburg (Dieci Pizzeria & Osteria) to Coney Island (Grimaldi’s), the city’s pie horizon is only getting broader.

Rosco’s retro-styled spot is an ode to the classic Brooklyn pizza joint. A streamlined menu emphasizes New York-style pies, with Sicilian options and organic toppings. Beer (craft or root, growlers to go) and wine are on hand to wash it down. 
Pizza heavyweight Grimaldi’s has established a beachhead on the boardwalk. Pictures of the old and new Coney Island set a casual mood. Pizza comes hot from a coal-burning brick oven. The usual Grimaldi’s house rule are in place: no slices, no reservations, and no credit cards.
Dieci Pizzeria & Osteria brings a taste of Campania to East Williamsburg. Sustainable pizza ingredients get the wood-burning oven treatment. The menu fills out with antipasto, panini, and entrées like braciola stuffed with raisins and pine nuts. The outdoor space is as quaint as a southern Italian courtyard, should the weather ever break.

New York Openings: La Marina, Crave Fishbar, Pier NYC

Few things are more disappointing than a bad seafood experience, especially when you’ve been primed by a waterfront location. We’ve all had the oily, overpriced, over-fried platters that mask questionable product and put a strain on the digestive system. Newcomers La Marina (pictured), Crave Fishbar, and Pier NYC make it easy to get fresh, great seafood without a haul to Long Island.

La Marina in Washington Heights serves up sick views of the G.W. Bridge, the unspoiled Palisades, and boat traffic from the banks of the Hudson. Surf and turf are on the menu, with fresh-shucked oysters, grilled lobsters, and steak a la plancha.
Crave Ceviche Bar gets a second lease on life at Crave Fishbar across the street. Faves like grilled yucca topped with spicy tuna carry over, joining new dishes like house-smoked bluefish with local radishes and dill. 
Pier NYC eliminates seafood-vs-barbecue debates by offering the best of both. For the former: raw bar, wild striped bass ceviche, crab cakes. On the pit side, John Brown Smokehouse star Josh Bowen brings killer brisket, house-cured pastrami, and pulled pork. The setting, on the Roosevelt Island waterfront, provides unparalleled views of the midtown skyline.

New York Openings: Bia Bar & Grill, Lavender Lake, The Wick, and The Well

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the gentrification of New York’s most populous borough, but Brooklyn’s DIY spirit has essentially remained the same. Instead of building from the ground up, newcomers are respecting local heritage by converting old industrial spaces into hangouts suitable for new crowds. Bia Bar & Grill, Lavender Lake, and siblings The Wick and The Well are on the vanguard of creative repurposing in the county of Kings. 

Bia Bar & Grill puts fresh Vietnamese cuisine in a raw space in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. The cavernous interior comes complete with balcony seating and recycled signs from the last tenant, Vince’s General Auto Repairs. Head up to the roof for classic cocktails and serious views. 
Former Knitting Factory hands drop a “music fortress” with the forthcoming venue The Wick. There’s space aplenty inside Bushwick’s former Hittleman Brewery. Local and national touring acts will play through. At The Well, you’ll find more live music, as well as beer from every brewer in the Empire State. Things kick off Saturday, with Cam’ron performing the inaugural show.
A former stable provides the bones for Gowanus’ newest watering hole, Lavender Lake. Brick walls, industrial stools, and manly raw wood make for a Scandinavian rustic vibe. Early opening hours, weekend brunch, and buckets of beer mean there’s something for Brooklynites of all stripes. A giant garden gnome watching over a spacious backyard is always a plus, too.

New York Openings: HAVEN, Brighton, Birreria Roma

There are few pleasures in life more enjoyable than outdoor drinking.  Summer has officially begun, and in the hot, humid evenings the best place to be is an outdoor patio, cold libation in hand. NYC bars have caught on; an outdoor space is almost a necessity these days. It’s also the perfect setting for bringing that significant other. New York newcomers Brighton, Birreria Roma, and HAVEN (pictured) will ensure your hot date catches a cool breeze.

Brighton is the Eventi’s sprawling new beach-shack food court. Go Burger brings the beef, and Fish Shack covers your Cape Cod nostalgia, with clam strips, lobster rolls, and beer-battered cod. There’s a tiki bar and a huge outdoor courtyard. Hester Nights on Thursdays bring even more food options, along with something entertaining on the 35-foot (!) TV.
Birreria Roma applies the speakeasy trend to pizzerias. A secret beer garden attached to Pizza Roma operates as a reservation-only yard. The artisanal house ‘za from Rome is on the menu, with a light dough that’s been rising for four days. Italian versions of doppelbocks and orange blossom-honey ales will expand your suds horizons. It’s a major date-night score, just make sure you call first.

HAVEN at the Sanctuary Hotel has a private elevator that will take you to 360-degree views above Times Square. There are eye-to-eye vantages of the French Gothic steeple of St. Mary the Virgin, and swaths of green courtesy of both real grass and artificial turf. Small plates keep you fortified as the city lights come alive.

New York Openings: Alphabet City Beer Co., Malt & Mold

The craft beer craze has hit New York hard. Recent legislation in Albany encouraging microbrews is only upping the beer renaissance. Downtown newcomers Alphabet City Beer Co. (pictured) and Malt & Mold are showcasing fine Empire State suds, along with some other craft finds. Bring along your state-sanctioned growler. 

Alphabet City Beer Co. is two doors down from its wine sibling. The space has a coffee shop feel with leather seats, a chandelier from the Puck Building, and a huge raw-wood communal table. Huge does not even begin to describe the bottled beer selection, with 350 on hand for your horizon-broadening pleasure. A dozen more come off the tap lines. Free WiFi helps settle pesky barguments. Petite take-out shop Malt & Mold sells fifty craft beers, with eight tap lines handling growler duty. A smart cheese selection steers mostly domestic, with a few rare imports. Complete your gourmet spread with chocolates, yogurts, vinegars, and cured meats. With the way New York is going after craft beer, there should be plenty of room for coexistence with Top Hops, which joined the neighborhood brew party in earlier this year. 

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New York Openings: Silk Rd Tavern, Chop Shop, Biang!

Options for casual Asian cuisine should not be limited to sketchy holes in the wall. New NYC additions Silk Rd Tavern, Chop Shop, and Biang! are plating elegant dishes that go light years beyond takeout hit or miss.

Flatiron newcomer Silk Rd Tavern puts pan-Asian twists on classic American comfort foods. Look for mash-ups like Everything Egg Rolls, with duck and foie gras, or a house mac ‘n’ cheese with Korean rice cakes and Vermont cheddar. Potpies upgrade pub grub, combining blue crab, black bean, and Singapore chili.

Chop Shop is the brainchild of Danny Emerman and Mah Chan of Bottino, which is just three doors down. The space is casual (no reservations), but the food is refined. The kitchen works Southeast Asian and Chinese angles, with black beans, chiles, and cumin putting some pop in your dining.

 Golden Mall staple Xi’an Famous Foods finally has a more upscale outpost, deep in Queens, with the opening of Biang!. All the classics are here, as seen on TV. There are also skewers of beef stomach and cubes of pig’s blood in a garlic-chile-vinegar sauce. If you’re adventurous enough for the haul to Flushing, you’re probably bold enough to give these delicacies a shot.

Three Italian Newcomers Hit The Big Apple

The pizzeria. The trattoria. The ristorante. In New York, there’s no shortage of Italian cuisine, which forces these restaurants to do something different to stand out from the pack. Newcomers Pranzo, Fratelli La Bufala, and Rafele are out to one-up the competition with authentic Italian recipes and original cooking methods.

Eataly’s lunch-only Pranzo is freshly open in chef Lidia Bastianich’s la scuola di Eataly classroom. The changing prix-fixe menu offers a gamut of regional Italian cuisines. An open kitchen lets you watch Lidia herself make at least one of the dishes, Food Network-style.
The international Fratelli La Bufala chain is an authentic Italian institution that has finally come to NYC. They specialize in personal-sized pizzas featuring Mozzarella di Bufala Campana cheese. The Irpina pie gets earthy with additions of ham, mushrooms, and bufala cream.
Named after chef/owner Raffaele Ronca, the West Village’s Rafele serves Neapolitan fare with an emphasis on local ingredients. The imported wood-burning brick oven and rotisserie pump out specialties, like porchetta and stuffed quail. The wood is tweaked with various liquors – another way of layering in flavor beyond New York’s Italian every day.

New York Openings: Proletariat, Max Bratwurst und Bier, Skylark

Everything’s been done, they say. Just look at Hollywood. While some decry reinventing the wheel, others embrace it and end up stumbling onto something new. Just-opened NYC bars Proletariat, Max Bratwurst, and Skylark bump up classic ideas with their own contemporary twist.

Proletariat updates the speakeasy aesthetic with a rare-brew bar in the back of Jane’s Sweet Buns. Emphasis is on the rotating list of seasonal brews, augmented by a draft cocktail or two. Max Bratwurst und Bier in Astoria puts a unique spin on traditional German dishes. All the tried and true classics are here, as well as some innovative wurst choices, including rabbit, alligator, and rattlesnake. Inspired by grandma’s basement, Skylark brings classic ’70s vibes to Park Slope. The retro menu features roast beef, cheddar, and mashed potatoes on white bread, among other classics. A smart tap selection is on-hand to satisfy the modern Brooklyn crowd.