what's the latest hot hot hot spot? and is it worth it? (more inside)
usually, the hotness of a spot is not due to food (although I did enjoy my meal at Balthazar, and was there while it was still hot hot hot)
so at which restaurant is people-watching superb right now? (scene ranks higher than food)
and, which is the best for food and people-watching? (best scene with good food?)
Everyone...simply EVERYone...has been flocking to DiFara's pizza on Avenue J in Brooklyn (Brooklyn! Can you BELIEVE it?). They've achieved this studiedly dingy-chic appearance (designed by Brice Pinzu for just over $2M), and there's a VIP room in the kitchen, over by the bathroom. NObody actually eats in the dining room (well...unless you count the herds of riffraff who wait forever to get in on weekends).
Of course, the secret's out of the bag...Dominic, the supposed "owner" and "chef" here is actually a character actor (check out the cocktail party scene in "The Player"--he's in a tux, chatting up some elderly socialite woman), and the food, the pizza, everything, is actually made by Charlton Bastion Samuels, a protege of Wolfgang Puck. It's clever how they do it. "Dominic" (his real name is actually George Seltzer) places the pies in the oven, which has doors on both ends, to "bake", and an assistant on the other side pulls them right out again (they go to God's Love We Deliver...nothing's wasted!) and replaces them with ones made by Charlton Bastion Samuels. You get it all--the old timey atmosphere with the "old guy pizza baker", yet the pizzas taste FABULOUS!
As for people-spotting, last time we were there, Lyle Vance was holding court. And I caught Cretundra Fwoo working on a slice topped with celery/ginger foam (you get the special stuff in the VIP room). Last weekend, Anisette Proloupous and Lori Drysworth (daughter of Monique and Ted Drysworth) brought along this FABULOUS DJ and there was dancing until 4:30 down in the cheese room (it's refrigerated, so management provides minks for everyone!).
The papparazzi haven't found out about this place yet, so everyone can just relax and have a blast. Catch it while it's still hush.
More to follow.
re: Jim Leff
re: Barry Strugatz
Speaking of zeppole oil, the last time I was at DiFara's, I saw a huge pile of what looked to me like clam cakes (the New Englander in me) and asked what they were, thinking they were something savory. Dominic told me, and off course I felt really silly for asking. (Doh!) I sat down and waited for my pizza, and after a few minutes, he came to the counter and handed me a hot zeppole. It was really delicious, with enough of a lemony bite to cut through both the oil and the powdered sugar.
While I was eating my pie, a little girl of about 6 or 7 came in and wanted a slice but was about a dollar short. Dominic gave her one anyway.
Every once in a while you meet someone who is so incredibly nice that it renews your faith in people in general. Dominic is one of those people. Just being around him for five minutes makes me feel better. The pizza's fantastic, but I think I would go even if it weren't.
Nobu is unquestionably the NY hot spot for celebity watching -- Howard Stern, De Niro and Martha Stewart are there constantly. Never been there personally but people fight like crazy to get into the place.
Masuharu Morimoto, the lead chef there, is the "Iron Chef Japanese" from TVFN's Iron Chef program. The guy is clearly talented but I think the guy's neo-japanese cuisine is pretty weird.
There are better places in the city to get traditional sushi, such as Sushisay and Kuruma Zushi.
re: Jason "Celebrity watching is overrated" Perlow
Last time I went to Pastis there were a ton of people whose names you've heard of (what counts as a scene, I guess). That was a few months ago, though, so I'm sure they've moved on. And the food is mediocre.
Saw the mayor (and I think his girlfriend) last week at Le Cirque. But the food was almost (dare I say it?) gross. Never left 90% of an osso buco on my plate before.
There were a bunch of celebs last time I was at Nobu too (6-8 wks ago), although we all just wanted the autograph of the Iron Chef! But it's way too old to be "hot hot hot".
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was at Picholine last time I was there(2-3 weeks ago). (I think that's her name). And much to my chagrin, the meal, except for the cheese platter was really so-so.
If I were you, I really just wouldn't bother... In writing this post, I realize I've had terrible luck combining "sightings" with good food lately (maybe always).