Arco Café is set to open today on Amsterdam and 103rd street in the former home of Maria’s Pizzeria. It serves food from Sardinia and seats 42 in the dining room plus 8 at the bar. It will also have 20 seats outdoors once we emerge from our endless winter. Oh, and it’s cash only so come prepared. We first wrote about it here, and received this release on Tuesday:
Arco Café will bring a taste of Sardinia to the Upper West Side when it opens at 886 Amsterdam Ave. (near W. 103rd St.) tomorrow. Restaurateur Sebastiano Cappitta, who owns Acqua, Bettola, Bettolona, Buca, Coccola and Isola on Columbus on the Upper West Side and who calls the neighborhood home, wanted a casual, inexpensive spot where diners could drop in for a warm croissant filled with nutella and coffee for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, an aperitivo with Italian snacks to nibble on in the afternoon or a Sardinian pasta for dinner. Chef Roberto Ruiu, a native of Sardinia who worked at many popular restaurants on the island, has created a menu of Sardinian and Italian favorites, with no dish costing more than $16.
Sardinia, which lies off the coasts of France, Spain, North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria) and Italy, possesses a unique culinary tradition influenced by centuries of invaders, from the Greeks and Romans to the Phoenicians and Arabs to the Spanish and Italian. These incursions drove the native population into the mountainous interior, resulting in a cuisine that’s both hearty and rustic (from the mountains) and light and seafood-driven (on the coast). Surrounded by the sea, the island’s diet is rich in seafood (sea urchin, mussels, clams, octopus, and the local specialty bottarga, the pressed and dried fish roe), as well as tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, wild boar, pork, lamb and goat. Another local specialty is pane cerasau, a thin bread baked crisp that’s a staple. Sardinia is also known for its cheese and is the main producer of Pecorino cheese in all of Italy.
The Arco Café menu features Sardinian specialties like Zuppa Gallurese, a rustic casserole-like dish with layers of cheese and bread in a broth; Sardinian Vegetable Fritters; Cozze alla Marinara, a spicy mussel and tomato soup made with Vermentino wine from Sardinia; Maloreddos alla Montanara, a traditional Sardinian pasta with mushrooms, sausage and tomato sauce; Semifreddo all’Amaretto di Sardegna, a semifreddo made with Sardinian amaretti cookies and Pane Frattau, thin Sardinian bread w tomato sauce, parmesan and poached egg that makes a perfect brunch dish. The menu also includes housemade pastas such as Cannelloni al Ragu, meat-filled cannelloni with bechamel sauce; Maltagliati Cozze e Fagioli, homemade pasta with mussels and beans in white wine sauce, and Gnocchi alla Boscaiola, potato gnocchi with mushrooms, bacon and cream sauce.
Arco Café will feature a concise beer and wine list, including wines from Sardinia made with native grapes such as vermentino, malvasia, moscato, carignano and cannonau. The café will be open seven days, serving breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, and is cash only. (Wheelchair accessible.)
Bustan, the Mediterranean restaurant on Amsterdam between 83rd and 84th streets, has its “official” opening today, although it’s been open for a couple of weeks. This restaurant generated an enormous amount of debate in the comments on our previous post (particularly about the price of hummus) and a restaurant rep wrote to us to attempt to clear up any confusion about the ownership.
Shelley Clark wrote: “I noticed in the comments there was some debate about whether or not ownership was the same as that of Hey Mambo, which formerly occupied the space. Tuvia Feldman, owned Hay Mambo, but with new partners in the very experience Efi Nahon and Guy Goldstien, it is a whole new food and service ballgame, above and beyond being radically different cuisine! Menu is rooted in Nahon’s expertise with a taboon, the traditional Middle East dome-shaped wood fired oven. Bustan’s, custom made on-site, is unique in this country (and likely the world) with its rotating base, which assures the even distribution of heat.”
Check out more on the restaurant below, along with a picture of the interior (the menu is here):
The shores of Western Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe will extend to Manhattan’s Upper West Side with the Wednesday, Feb. 26 opening of Bustan at 487 Amsterdam Avenue as a contemporary pan-Mediterranean restaurant. Bustan, meaning “garden” or “orchard” in Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Aramaic, is the realization of the vision of Proprietor Tuvia Feldman, Executive Chef / Partner Efi Nahon and General Manager / Partner Guy Goldstein to present New Yorkers with the eclectic gastronomic style of their native Israel, one that reflects the culinary diversity of the Mediterranean region. Consequently, Chef Nahon, a veteran of New York City’s highly acclaimed Barbounia and Taboon, who first gained international attention at Israel’s top-rated restaurant Keren, has created a menu for Bustan that incorporates the ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques of Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Greece, Turkey and Israel.
The common denominator for the 74-seat restaurant’s menu of mazettim, small plates, hummus, flatbreads and entrees is the kitchen’s centerpiece, the dome shaped, wood- fired taboon oven in which so many of the dishes are prepared. Fashioned after the more than two millennia old design of the classic Middle East oven, it was custom made for Bustan – each brick hand laid by hand on-site as directed by Nobila Attia the world’s foremost builder of commercial taboons – to be a one-of-a-kind with a rotating base that assures the even distribution of heat throughout the cooking process.
Signature dishes benefitting from Chef’s Nahon’s more than a decade of experience at what he describes as “the delicate art” of taboon cookery include: Whole Heirloom Cauliflower, nazareth tahini, pine nuts & green harissa; Organic Free Range Chicken mushrooms, asparagus, frikeeh & chicken foie gras merguez; and Lamb Terracotta, la boîte spiced lamb kebab with taboon grilled vegetables, tahini and pistachio baked into a flaky bread terracotta. Of course, taboon baked flatbreads figure prominently, such as Cured Tuna, zaatar, red onion, feta and fresh tomato and Smoked Salmon Pastrami, zucchini, kale, ricotta and Parmesan. Fish is also a Bustan menu staple, testimony to Chef Nahon’s earliest professional experience at a seaside tavern in the ancient Israeli port of Jaffa. Witness the Taboon Whole Baked Fish and Poached Moroccan Halibut, spicy tomato sauce, fire roasted peppers, black ink fettuccine & cilantro
Like Bustan’s food, the restaurant’s décor is not rooted in a single cultural identity, but rather embraces a broad spectrum of the Mediterranean color palette of sea and earth tones in hues of blue and sienna. A charcoal colored faux stone wall is punctuated by backlit portholes redolent of the region’s nautical heritage, while the sleek lines of the deco inspired bar conjures up images of the glamorous yachts that ply the Mediterranean’s water today. And in keeping with the restaurant’s name, an inviting garden will celebrate the Mediterranean tradition of al fresco dining during warm weather months.
Throughout the year, Bustan’s beverage team led by Goldstein, an educator for the American Sommelier Association and the winner of numerous awards for his wine and beverage programs at the likes Barbounia and Junoon, will evoke a mantra of “drink what you eat.” Bustan’s selection of seven signature cocktails will complement the cuisine with distinctly Mediterranean flavors, such as apricot, fig, lavender, and pomegranate. Similarly, the wine program of some 20 by-the-glass offerings and another 60 bottles, each chosen to enhance the food’s aroma and taste profiles, will highlight the bounty and diversity of the region’s viticultural areas. Beer, too, will be an important element of Bustan’s beverage program with imported and local brews – draft and bottled – spanning the full range of styles and types.
Bustan, located at 487 Amsterdam Avenue (between 83rd and 84th Streets) will open on Feb. 26, for dinner only with brunch slated for the spring opening of the garden. Hours will be: Sunday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Monday thru Wednesday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Thursday thru Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight. For reservations and information, call (212) 595-5050. The currently under construction Web site will be www.bustannyc.com