As a food-obsessed editor in New York City, I get asked for A LOT of dining recommendations, both from busy locals who don't have time to keep up with all the new restaurants, and from out-of-towners looking to make the most of their trip to Manhattan. It's quite tiring for me, really. One guy who's been making it easier since 2009 is Andrew Carmellini.
That was the year he opened Locanda Verde, a bustling Italian trattoria in Tribeca, which proved so instantly popular that I had to amend the following words to my frequent referrals: "If you can get a table." Next, Carmellini brought a much-needed, high-quality restaurant experience to west Soho in the form of The Dutch, an instantly cool yet entirely accessible spot with unforgettable cocktails, steaks, seafood and even pot pies. This is where I'd send friends in the fashion industry, or anyone looking to have a good time in Soho, really. He'd soon open a version of The Dutch at the W South Beach in Miami as well.
Last year, Carmellini gave me another easy answer: When colleagues and cohorts requested a buzzy downtown place for drinks, dinner, even breakfast or lunch, I'd routinely suggest Lafayette, perhaps his most fully realized effort. The French grand café and bakery — which we've covered in some detail on this site, from its graphic design to its chef de cuisine — opened while he was also taking over the kitchen at the nearby Public Theater's Library and at Joe's Pub, long one of NYC's best intimate music venues.
In short, it's been an astonishing run for this lifelong chef, who started cooking as an Ohio teenager, then went on to work in top NYC kitchens like Le Cirque and Café Boulud, adding in educational stints in culinary capitals of Italy and France (you can read his full bio here).
And yet, while the restaurants he and partners Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom have created serve thousands of New Yorkers and tourists each week, he isn't as ubiquitous as other chef/restaurateurs with less to crow about. He's not on every other food show on TV, nor is he prone to grab the mic any time there's a food festival in the vicinity. To me, he's kind of mysterious, which is why I met with him at Lafayette recently and asked him to let us into his world, via a week as Guest Editor of Food Republic.
To my surprise, he agreed — even as he was hiding plans for his next restaurant in his back pocket. The rumors and reports are true: Carmellini and his partners (Pickard and Ostrom) are working on Bar Primi, which they're calling a "casual pasta shop" and hoping to have open by late summer. But before they start cranking out fresh cavatelli, Carmellini is taking the reins at this website, with a busy week filled with stories that he helped conceive and oversee.
All this week on Food Republic, we'll feature food, travel, design, music, recipes, entertaining and more from the mind of Carmellini. We'll still have our usual array of stories and recipes, but anything marked with the tag "Andrew Carmellini Week" in the top corner of the post is part of a menu designed by the man himself (and you can click on it for the latest additions).
I hope you enjoy my latest referral: Welcome to Andrew Carmellini Week!