February can easily be the dreariest month of the year. The holidays are long over, snow isn’t fun anymore, and dang if it isn’t freezing outside. Luckily, the major players of the New York food world have been hard at work opening new and interesting restaurants for us to check out. If you’re looking for a fun outing to brighten your day and some tasty treats to warm your belly, check out our list of 14 new restaurants, cafes, and bars to try in February.
Who says vegetables can’t be the star of a meal? Chef Amanda Cohen certainly believes kale and carrots can be showstoppers, and she’ll be serving up out of the ordinary vegetable-based dishes at Dirt Candy’s new and improved location on Allen Street. The space may be bigger, but the menu is every bit as awesome as it’s always been, with a menu featuring things like Butternut Squash Scallopini and Jalapeno Hush Puppies with Maple Butter, even the most staunch carnivore will find something tasty to try. Veggies even find their way onto the dessert menu, with options like Celery Cheesecake and Vegetable Ice Cream Salad (what?!). If all this tickles your fancy, you better hurry, Dirt Candy’s new location opened just a few days ago and reservations are already booked weeks in advance. But don’t worry, they take walk-ins too.
Dale Talde has recently opened up his newest food venture in Jersey City- mixing an old-timey Italian marketplace with a traditional restaurant. There are specific counters for different goods –like pasta, antipasti, a butcher counter, coffee bar, and even a dry goods shop. In addition, there is a restaurant proper, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, serving up traditional Italian food with a range of house-made pastas. It is one-stop-shopping for all your Italian food desires.
If you find yourself in Jersey City checking out Carrino Provisions, why not hop next door and check out the newest branch of Talde as well. Chef Dale Talde, known for his appearances on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef All-Stars,” is clearly a dream-big kind of guy. I mean, why only open one new restaurant when you can open two, amarite? So once you’ve had your fill of Italian eats, pop next door and sample some Asian-Fusion yummy-ness like Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings or Yuzu Guacamole.
This brand spakin’ new bakery in Lower Manhattan’s Southbridge Towers will serve up French and Asian inspired baked goods, as well as house-made bread, and coffee. Yum! So if you’re always on the hunt for interesting treats, check out this spot for their Green Tea Sweet Cream Rolls or Red Bean Donghnuts. The cafe also serves salads, sandwiches, and small bites.
There’s no website to be found currently. But here it is on Yelp:
Mandy Oser and Amorette Casaus have teamed up once again to bring us The Camlin –the newest wine bar to grace the Williamsburg waterfront. Set to open on Valentine’s Day, this sweet spot will be the perfect place to share some wine and small plates with that special someone. There will eventually be a full menu, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for details on that.
Would you like a cocktail with your cupcake? Well, at Crown Height’s newest Bar/Bakery establishment, your dreams can come true. Technically a bakery by day and bar by night, you can nevertheless order an array of tasty baked treats along with your specialty cocktails for an evening of sweet, sweet awesomeness. In addition, they have a full service bar –complete with beer and Jell-O shots! Check them out for brunch as well.
Ex-Waldorf Astoria food and beverage director, Alexander Pollet, has just opened a traditional French restaurant located on the Upper East Side where Cucina Ciano used to reside. The menu is comprised of traditional French fare as well as specialty cocktails. The waitstaff are reminiscent of the French Riviera with striped shirts, jeans, and Converse, rounding out an atmosphere that’s both relaxed and upscale.
This Williamsburg staple for all things tasty, fried and served with a bisciut, has started off the new year by opening a new location on Canal Street. The space may be bigger –featuring a lunch counter and booths– but the food is every bit the same as its phenomenal first location. Check them out if you’re in the mood for pie, fried chicken, or in-house fried doughnuts –you will not be disappointed. (And, come on, how cute is that name?)
Cocktail connoisseur Matt Piacentini’s self-professed dream has been to open the perfect cocktail bar. And now, with his newest venture, he hopes to achieve that goal. Set to open mid-month, The Up & Up will serve up classic cocktails in a vintage inspired atmosphere. Their motto is “High end, but low key,” attempting to shake off the snooty atmosphere that can often accompany such bars, while still providing customers with a luxe experience. The menu will feature four categories –house drinks, classics, “craft shots” (or half-size cocktails), as well as a cocktail version of bottle service for large groups.
Planning to open in late February, this cozy neighborhood bar has been a passion project of Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff, along with Damon Boelte (Prime Meats) and Julian Brizzi (Rucola). Located in Boerum Hill, the space sat empty for years before these gents decided to turn it into a cozy hangout that will serve craft beer, oysters, non-traditional bar food (not sure exactly what that will entail, but it will definitely not include your typical burgers, fries and wings).
Chef Kirby Tan recently soft-opened a new Malaysian restaurant in Battery Park. The menu features influences from Indian, Portugese, Dutch, and Chinese cuisines –all cultures that have influenced Malaysia as a country. He warns that, although he tones down his food for New Yorkers, Malaysian food is notoriously spicy. So check it out and see just how much heat you can handle.
Concerned with the lack of steakhouse restaurants in the West Village, Paul Singh and his collaborators decided to open one themselves. Village Prime boasts traditional cuts of meat, along with seafood, and a raw bar. Oh, and don’t forget their classic but always tasty dessert menu, with items like Creme Brulee and Chocolate Lava Cake. They also host brunch on weekends, and have an impressive cocktail menu.
The June Wine Bar is one of the first natural wine bars in Brooklyn –meaning they source from smaller, local vineyards that steer clear of chemicals in their process. Co-owner Tom Kearney has created a bar with a 1920s Parisian atmosphere along with an interesting menu – no boring cheese plates for this place – containing items like Tokyo Turnips and Apple Brioche. Right now it is only open in the evening, but June expects to expand its hours this spring when the restaurant’s backyard will be open.
Popular sushi spot, Sushi Shop, continues to expand with a new location coming to the Flatiron in late February. The restaurant, which started in Paris, now boasts dozens of branches all around Europe. However, they only recently made a foray into the US market, with a location on the Upper West Side. Known for its high-end but reasonably priced sushi, Sushi Shop’s rise in popularity is remarkable and certainly worth checking out.
Have you tried any of these places? Have others to add?
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.