Get Ready to Eat in Chelsea

A fall restaurant resurgence features eateries helmed by celebrity chefs and a host ofnewbies

11 Oct 2019 | 11:43

Chelsea lost a slew of its iconic eateries this year, like much of the city. We bid farewell to Rouge Tomate, Trestle on Tenth, Rocking Horse, the Red Cat and Half King. But in their stead comes a new surge of eateries this fall, comprised of chefs both familiar and foreign, of verified celebrity and those hungry to establish their New York cred. The restaurant revival comes much to the neighborhood’s delight: we Chelseans are a hungry lot.

A few of the newbies are already up and running, like Il Fiorista in the garden district, whose mission statement is to celebrate the many ways we can incorporate flowers into our lives. Husband and wife team Mario and Alessandra De Benedetti from Milan collaborated with chef Garrison Price to create a Mediterranean menu in an airy, clean dining space, which also serves as a flower shop under the direction of Mindy Cardozo. She sources her blooms from Allora and Treadlight farms upstate - diners can bring home a souvenir bouquet.

Xu’s Public House by Luis Shen provides “nouvelle Shanghai” cuisine to the Union Square area, an area bereft of solid Chinese options. The prices are notably higher than your average noodle joint, but Xu’s is sourcing premium ingredients, and the bill can also be offset by their no-corkage BYOB policy, in lieu of a liquor license.

For Italian, the Moxy Hotel has launched Feroce, by Francesco Panella of the famed Antica Pesa in Rome and Brooklyn in conjunction with Tao Group Hospitality. The multi-faceted Italian destination offers both indoor and outdoor dining, classic and innovative recipes, an elegant ristorante as well as a more casual wood-burning pizza café complete with a bocce table.

In other hotel news, the Maritime has opened Catch Steak under the direction of meat maestro Michael Vignola, putting a 2020 spin on the classic steakhouse, meticulously sourced from purveyors from Idaho and Nebraska to Sendai Miyagi and Hokkaido. The sprawling menu caters to pretty much any appetite, with impeccable seafood and thoughtful side dishes, and even several vegan options.

For a kinetic, New American bar and restaurant, Worthwild offers “sharable American small plates, craft beer and great cocktails for the adventurous diner.” Just up the block, Tarek Daka opened up Qanoon, stemming from two successful Italian restaurants in the area. This labor of love reconnects him with his heritage, offering modern Middle Eastern cuisine inspired by flavors and memories from Palestine.

L’Atelier has expanded its reach beyond its two-Michelin-starred fine dining salon to introduce Le Club, a high-energy lounge with a creative menu from Atelier’s chef, Christophe Bellanca. He will utilize the same exceptional ingredients sourced for L’Atelier, but in a vibier presentation in keeping with the neighborhood, and also a lower price point. Think duck meatballs, a pizza-esque tarte flambé, lobster with vanilla and turmeric, and a cotton candy cloud for dessert.

Among places yet to open, the most anticipated might be Portale, from renowned Gotham Bar & Grill chef Alfred Portale. Look forward to an abundance of market vegetables, grilled meats and fish, and grains milled in-house for bread, polenta and pasta. Just as noteworthy is Danny Abrams, a partner with Jimmy Bradley from the Red Cat, who will revive the address with a Mermaid Inn alongside partner Cindy Smith.

Power couple Executive Chef Leah Cohen and restaurateur Benjamin Byruch of the LES hotspot Pig & Khao will launch Piggyback NYC, which will “highlight familiar cuisine with nuances of Asian flavors, influences and techniques” with prices starting at $12. Expect traditional offerings such as the popular Chả Cá Lã Vọng noodle dish and trendier options like shrimp toast with Japanese seasonings, in a kitschy, eclectic dining room decorated with souvenirs from their travels through Southeast Asia. The proximity to Madison Square Garden (and subsequent lack of decent dining options in the area) is a plus.

Beloved Cookshop owners Vicki Freeman, Marc Meyer and Chris Paraskevaides will take over the old Co. pizza restaurant for a spinoff of another of their restaurants, Shuka, to be called Shukette. They are planning a lively destination helmed by Ayesha Nurdjaja, who will create a Middle Eastern menu featuring flavorful dips, mezze and Levantine specialties cooked on a charcoal grill.

Chelsea Market will debut Di Martino Pasta Bar’s first U.S. iteration of its popular Neapolitan concept, with 120-plus pasta shapes and a seasonal rotation of sauces, as well as wine and cocktails, and coffee and Italian pastries at breakfast. Just south of there, father and son team Marc and Larry Forgione will transform the old Spice Market space into Davide, projected to be a Mediterranean-Italian spot with an open kitchen, communal table and private garden.

Two mysteries are LouLou, which covered the windows of the old Nisos space with its signage, but hasn’t displayed much activity since. The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side purportedly took over the old Trestle on Tenth space, but has yet to show any signs of life.

Finishing things off on a sweet note, Christina Tosi is expanding her Milk Bar empire to the iconic Ace Hotel, taking over the old John Dory space to create her first flagship store, the biggest to date. It is being billed as a “choose-your-own adventure space designed to feed your creativity and your sweet tooth,” an exciting addition to what has become an alleyway of healthy and high-end.

While Chelsea has lost many beloved eateries, we have a lot to look forward to: stay hungry.