GoogaMooga Gets Fantastical With Themed Roberta’s, The Spotted Pig, & Gabe Stulman Pop-Ups

GoogaMooga – Brooklyn’s May 17th-19th food/music fest with the really great toilets – is adding themed, fantastical pop-ups from Roberta’s and culinary greats April BloomfieldKen Friedman, and Gabe Stulman to their carnival of all things fried, buttered, sprinkled, and alcoholic. 

Roberta’s – the Bushwick pizza joint with a cult following – is going Elizabethan, debuting their "Urban Renaissance Faire" – fit with hunky knights and fair maidens, and platters of medieval bites. Freshly-hunted turkey legs? Spare ribs from a barn hog? Perhaps.

Foot-long sausages, German pastries, and bubbling beers, are at the German beer garden pop-up known as "The Spotted Pig Haus," dreamed up by  The Spotted Pig’s chef/co-owner April Bloomfield and co-owner Ken Friedman. And if you still have room…

Gabe Stulman is going Americana on us, bringing his Wisconsin upbringing to his pop-up "Little Wisco Seafood Boil & BBQ." The restauranteur behind such West Village greats as Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, and Fedora, is stocking his with boiled crawfish, barbecued shrimp, and wholesome games of bocce ball and bean-bag toss. 

All these delectable food worlds can be yours for the price of $15-$20, drinks not included. But do get drinks. And do go to the bathroom many times. Many times. Because believe me: they have really great toilets.

Get the scoop on GoogaMooga, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

New York Openings: Salvation Taco, Cocina Economica Mexico

New York has gone from a Mexican food wasteland to a flourishing scene in just a handful of years. Things have heated up so much that chefs from way north of the border are throwing their sombreros in the ring. Newcomers Salvation Taco (pictured) and Cocina Economica Mexico let authenticity play off of creativity. Partnering up with Mexican-born chefs ensures the cooking stays legit.

Gastropub legend April Bloomfield may hail from the West Midlands, but she’s developed a taste for taquerias. With her Spotted Pig partner Ken Friedman, she’s now serving Mexican at the Pod 39 hotel. Gamy meats carry over, with crispy pig ear, pork belly and pineapple salad, and lamb tongue tortas all making the menu. Tacos push boundaries, employing naan for cover, or stuffed with roast cauliflower and curried crema. Roberto Santibañez of the Fonda restaurants adds his expertise to the kitchen. There’s a ringer on the cocktail side, too, as Sam Anderson of Hotel Delmano crafts drinks that are as original as the food. The Sonora Old Fashioned blends tequila, chili-honey, and grapefruit bitters with bacanora, the rarest of the agave liquors. Décor goes whole hog on the Mexican theme. A carved fruit and veggie wall looks cribbed from Carmen Miranda’s hat. Terracotta floors, tile tables, and circa-1919 brick walls keep the balance of the space warm.

Chef David Bank is Thailand born and raised, but he’s embracing the spirit of Mexico. His sous chef at Land Thai Kitchen, Pedro Hernandez Perez, has inspired a southward look. Together the two chefs are putting creative slants on Mexican front-room family restaurants. At Cocina Economica Mexico, tacos come stuffed with everything from cactus to octopus to beef cheeks. Entrées are split between casseroles and the grill. The market-driven menu finds combinations like shrimp braised in chipotle, or short ribs stewed with the herb hoja santa. The beverage side stays just as authentic, with mezcal, tequila, and Sidral Mundet soda on offer. Prices are economical, just like the Land mothership. The space itself is small and homey, with a hand-lettered sign, varnished plank ceilings, and folky carved heads. There may be hope for the Upper West Side yet.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; 7 New York Restaurants Where Western Chefs Make Eastern Food; The Top New Year’s Eve Parties in New York]

Into going out? Then download the free, GPS-enabled BlackBook City Guides app for your iPhone or Android and always know the best spots to hit, wherever you are. And if you want to stay on top of all the major openings and events in New York or your city of choice, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

New York Openings: Vicolo, Williamsburg Pizza, Brooklyn Central

There may be nothing new under the wood-burning oven, but Brooklyn’s latest pizza arrivals are carving out some space of their own. Thursday night, Bay Ridge welcomed Vicolo, with the only individually-sized Neapolitan pies available in the whole neighborhood. The pizzaiolo is Luigi Olivella, who has something of a cult following thanks to his stints with L’Asso and OliO Pizza e Più. His wood-fired brick oven was specially made in Naples and it’s put to good use here, turning out a mix of rosse and bianche options. Pizza is only the beginning, as a chef from Puglia oversees a full array of antipasti, primi, and secondi possibilities. The focus is Southern Italian classics, with tomatoes, salumi, and cheeses among the ingredients brought in fresh from the Old Country. The dining room works for date nights, an elegant "alley" with white tablecloths, earth-toned accents, and timbered beams overhead. 

On a more casual note, Williamsburg Pizza is a recent addition to the south side mix. A retro striped awning in front calls back to parlors of yore, with brick, tile, and chalkboard on the homey interior. There’s a smattering of tables for hunkering down over large-size pies with your choice of Brooklyn, Margherita, or Grandma crusts. The focus is on high-quality ingredients, although the “Fresh!” sign in front may have already alerted you to that. Toppings are modern enough to range from classic fresh-mozzarella Caprese to a vegan pie with spinach and caramelized onions. The San Marzano tomato sauce is made in-house, as are the cheeses, when they don’t come direct from Italy.
Between those two poles of Kings County stands Brooklyn Central. Park Slope’s latest pizza destination brings killer Neapolitan pies from pizzaolos who did time at The Spotted Pig and I Trulli. The menu divides into Old World classics and New World creativity, tied together by Brooklyn sourcing. Mozzarella and charcuterie are made in-house, and fresh ingredients fill out both the pizza toppings and seasonal salads. Park Slope’s favorite meal, brunch, launches Saturday. A couple of ringers are joining the regular pizza rotation. Ham and eggs meet gruyere and truffle for A.M. gourmets. If you’re shading more sweet than savory, check out the Banana Stonecake, a pancake-inspired combo of bananas, pecans, and syrup. Ladies and gentlemen, start your strollers.

Strolling Around New York With Its Most Likable Brummie Chef, April Bloomfield

On a stormy Friday afternoon, a girl sat staring at her pig. More specifically, April Bloomfield, the Birmingham-born chef who first brought gastropubs to New York with The Spotted Pig, and later The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar, eyed a pile of homemade malfatti pasta tangled up with tree frog-green arugula and glistening bits of rosy suckling pig at Maialino, one of the chef’s neighborhood haunts. It is an apt choice considering the chef there, Nick Anderer, handles Italian food much in the same way Bloomfield expresses English cuisine: balancing high and low, delicate and rustic, with lots of hog thrown in. Bloomfield is just settling back into her cooking routines after a grueling book tour for her first cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories. So she was extra happy to visit her favorite New York hangouts.

april bloomfield maialino

2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY

(212) 777-2410
I live around the corner and come here at all times of the day. There’s this wonderful thing on the menu called a caramellato. It’s basically a brioche bun dipped in butterscotch vanilla sauce. They’re addictive. You can buy six to-go, but they’ll only do six. I’ve tried to convince them to give me more, but chef Nick wouldn’t do it.

april bloomfield kalustyan's

123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY

(212) 685-3451
Being from England, I love curry. It’s our national dish, and this is the most amazing spice shop you’ll ever come across to find it. You know how you can spend hours in hardware stores, whether you love home improvement or not? This is the equivalent for chefs. It’s not just a spice shop though. They have vinegars, oils, sugars, salts, nuts, and grains.

april bloomfield bonnie slotnick

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks
163 W. 10th St., New York, NY

(212) 989-8962

When I first moved to New York, I found this tiny store. Bonnie has old books and modern books and everything in between. We’re picking up a book today that my friend Matt Dillon [of Sitka & Spruce] in Seattle recommended. It’s called Auberge of the Flowering Hearth. I’m excited to just go read it and touch the pages. Sometimes it’s nice to pick up an book that has that old smell. You don’t get that smell with iPads. They all just smell like Apple.

april bloomfield the smile

The Smile
26 Bond St., New York, NY

(646) 329-5836
When you’re at The Smile, you feel like you’ve stepped out of New York. I really like places that transport you. The Smile is rustic and perfect for a rainy day like this when you can curl up with a cup of tea—though the coffee here is great, too—and their delicious avocado salad.

april bloomfield korin

57 Warren St., New York, NY

(212) 587-7021

I heard about Korin from one of my chefs at The Breslin. The first time I ever went down, I was a little overwhelmed, but everyone is so helpful and friendly. They do a range of Japanese and Western-style knives. I got one that was sort of both—slightly firmer metal so they’re easy to clean and they don’t oxidize so much—instead of a totally traditional Japanese–style knife that is harder to maintain. They’re not a chain. It’s just a one–off. It’s not like Sur La Table. I like to support the smaller guy.

Photos by Eric Medsker.

Five Music Festivals That Will Keep New Yorkers At Home This Summer

With Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza both coming up in the next few months, we’re afraid that our festival budgets are already maxed-out. But we here at BlackBook think there’s plenty more fun to be had and jams to be shared, and there are plenty of local music festivals this summer that will help us beat the heat and save some cash. No airfare or accomodation fees? We’re there—we just need to know where to go! Here are five upcoming events that will keep us having fun at home.

GoogaMooga: May 19-20, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park

Headliners: The Roots, Holy Ghost!, Hall and Oates, Fitz & the Tantrums

Special features: Food, food, and more food, including Momofuku Milk Bar, Kutsher’s Tribeca, The Spotted Pig, Dinosaur BBQ, Mile End, Vinegar Hill House, DuMont Burger, and for those health-conscious festival goers, Juice Press! Additionally, the festival will have a wine tasting tent featuring over 100 wines from around the world and a beer tasting pavilion featuring over 30 different domestic and foreign draft beer makers.

The gist: Eating Momofuku crack pie and drinking artisanal beer to the tune of “Rich Girl” sounds like my idea of a perfect Saturday.

Camp Bisco
: July 12-14, Indian Lookout Country Club, Mariaville, NY

Headliners: The Disco Biscuits, Skrillex, Crystal Castles, Atmosphere

Special features: Camp Bisco will feature three days and nights of music on five stages. Boogie away to top international dance acts as well as in the silent disco, where listeners tune in on wireless headsets. And the most fun part? Camping! Pull up in your RV or pitch your tent, and enjoy the fresh air of the great outdoors. Buy a VIP ticket for access to a VIP lounge and showers, plush toilets, and complimentary massages! VIP Platinum ticketholders get extra perks including a backstage Surf and Turf with members of the Disco Biscuits and other artists. I’m sold.

The gist: Camping in the unsullied upstate air, upbeat dance tunes, plush toilets, showers, and MASSAGES! What else would I need!?

: July 28-29, Randall’s Island

Headliners: The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, TV on the Radio, Girl Talk, Cold War Kids

Special features: A silent disco will also be featured at Catalpa (seeing a new trend here?) There is also an Ultimate VIP Cabana and Hot-Tub Package for a group of ten with bottle service and other special accommodations. Frisky’s Church of Sham Marriages is setting up a basecamp within Catalpa. Looking to get married during the festival…or at least fake-married?? This 60-foot inflatable church is available for all of you lovers out there to get hitched. Great way to test (read: scare) your boyfriends, ladies! Don’t worry: rings and veils are provided! There’s also a raggae stage procured by High Times Magazine, which is sure to provide chill vibes. 

The gist of it: Snoops Dogg performing his seminal Doggystyle in its entirety, celebrating the sanctity of marriage, and cabanas with hot tubs, Catalpa will surely not disappoint.


Governors Ball Music Festival: June 23-24, Randall’s Island

Headliners: Beck, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, Modest Mouse, Fiona Apple, Chromeo

Special features: An impressive roster of food offerings, which includes Luke’s Lobster, Asia Dog, The Taco Truck, Food Freak Grilled Cheese, and Hill Country. Lawn games include ping pong (presented by Spin New York), beer pong, bocce ball, and croquet. There will be a silent disco room (Yes, again!). VIP ticketholders will receive massage services, shaded seating, and more. The kicker? No overlapping sets! 

The gist: Eating Luke’s Lobster while getting a massage while playing beer pong whilst listening to Beck. I’m up for multitasking.

Electric Zoo: August 31-September 2, Randall’s Island

Headliners: Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Benny Benassi, Tiesto, David Guetta, Above and Beyond, A-Trak,

Specials features: Last year 85,000 people attended this special event and we are expecting a large turnout again! VIP passes include access to air-conditioned bathrooms, plush furniture, complimentary food, and an open bar. For all of you on a budget, Electric Zoo is offering a payment plan for ticket purchasers. You can now pay in installments over time. How thoughtful!

The gist: Three days of house music, electronic vibes, and thousands of festival-goers fist-pumping on Randall’s Island. Tiesto under the stars? And pay later? Done.

Food Trend Alert: The New York Deviled Egg Uprising

Whether it was the rediscovery of mayonnaise as a condiment of interest or the scotch-scented wave of pure, artery-clogging Mad Men nostalgia that brought them back, deviled eggs have arrived – again. Once the hors d’oeuvre your grandma’s gin rummy tournament wasn’t complete without, this summer deviled eggs are popping up on menus across New York, from gastro pubs to Tiki bars to New York Times three-stared restaurants. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to avoid the fancy little treats.

They are a staple bar snack at beloved gastro pub the Spotted Pig and Gramercy Park’s Resto, and are offered in their organic form at Brooklyn’s the General Greene. More adventurous ovum enthusiasts can pair Samoan deviled eggs with flamboyant cocktails served in coconuts at the Hurricane Club, try Tabasco-spiced eggs at BLT Bar and Grill, or sample the Aspen Social’s version, served with yellow fin tuna and wasabi tobiko. For an upscale experience, Veritas restaurant’s baby spinach salad is an excuse to devour deviled eggs topped with whipped blue cheese and crisped pancetta.

Some wink at the classics, like Seersucker Bar, which is serving deviled eggs as part of their Southern snack tray alongside pimento cheese and crudités. Other establishments, like the Collective over in the Meat Packing district, demonstrate premature nostalgia for last summer’s truffle-everything trend, serving deviled eggs with truffle oil and fried capers. Friends, this is only a very partial list.

Need a bright idea for some weekend fun? How about hosting a deviled egg cook-off like they do down south. After reading The Awl’s Ultimate, Fabulous Guide to Deviled Eggs, I immediately began compiling my very own winning recipe. Not to worry: Those of you who’s egg-eating expertise exceeds your event planning abilities, the author kindly shares his comprehensive list of regulations to prevent the whole ordeal from going to Hades.

Where Celebs Go Out: Mario Batali, Mayor Bloomberg, Danielle Staub

Mario Batali at the opening of Eataly: My favorite places to eat are generally downtown in the Village: Pearl Oyster Bar, Spotted Pig, Grand Sichuan. My favorite thing to eat is anything anyone else makes! Da Silvano has an octopus salad and octopus grill that’s really beautiful. ● Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the opening of Eataly: There are 20,000 restaurants in New York City, and I try to eat at every single one of them. ● Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: wd-50, and in Brooklyn, Pacifico, the Mexican restaurant on Pacific St.

Drew Nieporent at Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards party: Restaurants that are owned my friends—Jean Georges, Daniel, Mario Batali, the usual suspects. And El Bulli in Barcelona. My favorite dish is anything that Mark Ladner makes at Del Posto. ● Bethenny Frankel at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Trump Soho, Abe & Arthur’s, STK. ● Johnny Weir at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Cipriani Downtown has the most amazing vanilla meringue cake. ● Tinsley Mortimer at her handbag launch party at Samantha Thavasa: Avenue and the Biergarten at the StandardBryan Greenberg at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: The corn, the tacos, and the margaritas at La Esquina. ● Danielle Staub at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Cafeteria for the little sliders, the mac and cheese. For dessert, their Everything But the Kitchen Sink. ● Lamar Odom at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. ● Mick Rock at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: Kenmare. ● Richie Rich at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: At the The Lion, the champagne’s my favorite. I like the atmosphere and the food’s amazing. The energy’s amazing at the Boom Room Room.

The Dish: Breslin’s Lamb Burger

What: Chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo, and thrice-cooked chips. Where: The Breslin at the Ace Hotel. Ideal meal: When you’re in the mood to rub shoulders with scenesters—literally, it’s really crowded around dinner time. Because: Chef April Bloomfield did marvelous things at The Spotted Pig. And if you don’t love (or are at least fond of) that burger, you’re wrong. Tastes like: Tender lamb patty, slightly charred on the outside, atop a soft bun with the most wonderful/intriguing cumin mayo addition. The fries are really, really amazing. You won’t be able to leave spares on the plate. Bottom line: It’s a pricey burger at $17, but the same as S.P.’s version. Worth the indulgence.

Industry Insiders: Jean Rene Mbeng, Mayor of the West Village

If you’ve been to the West 4th Street institution Extra Virgin, then you know Jean Rene Mbeng. He’s the animated maître d’ who will take your name, tell you it’s going to be a 45 minute wait (it’s always packed), and then keep you so entertained that you forget your stomach is growling. By the time you sit down, you’ll have made a new friend in Jean Rene and forgotten that you waited long at all. Chef Joey Fortunato and co-owner Michele Gaton have a prime piece of West Village real estate with the French-influenced eatery, and depend on Mbeng (who grew up in Lille, France, but originally hails from Gabon and Senegal) to keep the neighbors happy and the clientele returning, which he always does with a smile and a tip of his ever-present hat. More on this neighborhood character after the jump.

On the route to New York: I started an internship in San Francisco. In French schools, you have to go abroad for an internship. I lived there and I worked at Bissap Baobab. After that, San Francisco became too small for me because I have such a big personality so I had to move. I came to New York on vacation for two weeks like five years ago. I was like, ‘Oh my god it’s so perfect. It’s so big, everybody’s so beautiful.’

First NYC post: I started working at Les Halles Downtown. I worked at Brasserie Ruhlmann at Rockefeller Center. I worked at Les Deux Gamins. And one day, I walked by Extra Virgin. It was like a dream scene. This neighborhood has always been such a beautiful place.

On his neighborhood nickname: They call me the mayor of the neighborhood, because I spend five days a week here. I’m always here, even though I live in Brooklyn. I know everybody. I go outside, I go to every bar, know every bartender. Even though this is New York City, the West Village is so different. As the ‘mayor,’ I get free drinks everywhere. In the business everybody knows everybody, so they treat me specially. I treat them specially, everybody who comes here, too.

On the first days of the West Village institution: It was busy. It was difficult. It was different because it was only one side before we expanded. There was a line outside right from the beginning. Now, it’s getting bigger and busier and busier and busier. It’s a neighborhood institution and it’s so open to residents and fits well in the neighborhood.

On his job description: I take care of communication. I see myself as an ambassador. I take care of customers and say hi to regulars walking by. At the same time I take care of the seating, turning the tables, who’s coming in. I give wait times. When it’s busy, I’m the peacemaker for the restaurant. I say hi to all the dogs and the babies.

Crazy customer demands: When I say that the wait is going to be 45 minutes, some people will say, “Oh no, my uncle owns the restaurant.” Those are usually like people that come from New Jersey who aren’t used to waiting 45 minutes. We don’t take reservations here, so I get a lot of that.

The best menu item: I love the Mushroom Crusted Virgin Chicken and I love the halibut, too. On Sunday nights we’ve got meatballs. People come just for the meatballs. It’s $20 for two meatballs, and you can’t even finish them, they’re so big. I always take some home and use it in my baguette the next day. Always better the next day. We can’t make enough of them. For brunch, people come for the French toast.

Idols: Oh definitely Joey and Michele. They’re perfect bosses. They let me be who I am and you see why I love it here. Everybody’s laid back, cool, relaxed. I worked for some people uptown that made me wear a suit and tie. That wasn’t me. I also look up to Jean-Claude Baker of Chez Josephine in the theater district because he’s got such a presence at the door and has been my mentor.

On turning into a New Yorker: I’m a New Yorker by heart. I have an accent and I still eat French cuisine, but NYC is the place to be. It’s like a puzzle. My parents are still in France. The last time I was there it was like five years ago but my mom still takes care of me. She calls me every week and is like, “Are you eating well? Are you feeling well?” She’s very mommy wise.

On his signature look: I always wear a hat. It’s my signature. When you work in a restaurant, it’s a show. You’re a character. It’s always easy to find me in the restaurant. I probably have like 60 or 70 hats, and I’ve never bought a single one. I get them as gifts from customers. One time a lady came in, and I didn’t even know her. She said, “I’ve been coming to your restaurant for a long time, and I want your name.” She sent me a bag with like 25 hats. She wrote, “I’ve been to your restaurant so many times and I saw that you always wore a hat. Enjoy these.” I felt terrible because I had made her wait for a table. She waited for like 45 minutes. I never say no to a hat.

Drama in the his quaint restaurant: One time a neighborhood guy came in with a girl who wasn’t his girlfriend, and the girlfriend later came in with her friends. He told her that he was sick and took out another girl. I had to play peacemaker. Guys come in here too and try to hook up with girls. They try to bribe me to give their number to girls, but I never do it, unless the girl actually wants to talk to them.

Go-to’s: I go to Employees Only, Spotted Pig, neighborhood places. I love Macao, I Tre Merli, and Wilfie & Nell.