It was all about the big names this week here at Food Republic. Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon, Julian Medina and Richard Sandoval were just four of several acclaimed chefs to introduce new or upcoming restaurants, with a few of them testing their hands at previously unattempted types of cuisine. New York City was certainly the star of the show this week from a pure numbers standpoint, but the Midwest came up strong with a couple of major announcements. Check out some of this week’s biggest restaurant news and be sure to drop us a line if we missed anything.

New York City

Pork-belly buns are one of many appetizers put together by chef Morimoto to accompany his NYC ramen.

Momosan Ramen & Sake
Masaharu Morimoto certainly needs no introduction to Japanese-food enthusiasts. With his latest opening in Murray Hill, the Iron Chef steps away from his usual sushi fare to take a stab at authentic ramen dishes, along with creative appetizers. Among the noodle dishes available are traditional tonkotsu, tantan (a spicy coconut-curry version), and Tokyo chicken. Diners are encouraged to order a variety of appetizers alongside the ramen, with inventive options including gyoza with pork and chives, Peking duck tacos, Kurobuta sausage and chasu bap, served with pork chasu, menma, daikon, spinach, takana, egg yolk, red yuzu, kosho and sweet chasu sauce. More than 20 regional sakes complement the extensive menu, in addition to sake-based cocktails and beers. 342 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10016;

A burrata quesadilla at Tacuba in NYC is topped with manchego, zucchini flower, kale pesto and chile de arbol.

Julian Medina is one of the most recognized names in Mexican cuisine in NYC. The chef-owner of the Toloache Restaurant Group operates multiple locations of the eponymous restaurant, as well as popular downtown hangout Yerba Buena. Already at the helm of Tacuba in Astoria, Medina is expanding to Hell’s Kitchen and will carry over a few of the best-selling dishes, such as carne asada and chile relleno. Much of the menu will stray from the original, however, with a burrata quesadilla, octopus tostada, Oaxacan grasshopper omelet tacos and a spicy chipotle lobster dish making their debuts. The bar is stocked with some 300 tequilas and mezcals, which are featured in several cocktails — look out for the famous Piña Para la Nina, a margarita for two served in a pineapple. 802 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10019;

Double Burger
A double burger at NYC newcomer Trademark Burger

Trademark Burger
There has been a steady influx of quality burgers in town lately, and chef Sebastien Pourrat’s SoHo passion project is the latest to attempt the perfect version of everyone’s favorite meal. The chef of Cocotte uses 7X Beef, an ultra-premium, all-natural, 100 percent antibiotic-free marbled beef from an ancient breed of Japanese cattle in Colorado. The classic Trademark Burger is made with this beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles and — of course — special sauce. The menu also features veggie burgers, organic hot dogs and thick milkshakes. 110 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012;

Pizza. Kind Brother
NYC’s Speedy Romeo’s Kind Brother pizza with wild mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, farm egg and sage.

Speedy Romeo
Speedy Romeo has been a Brooklyn institution since first opening its doors in Clinton Hill four years ago. A new Lower East Side location keeps with the same wood-fired cooking methods, carrying over menu favorites such as stuffed peppers with hot and sweet soppressata, ricotta and pecorino; pizza with Provel, Italian sausage, pepperoni and pickled chilies; a Speedy Romeo cheeseburger; and a bone-in rib eye for two. New additions include a pizza with Katz’s pastrami, Dijon béchamel, smoked red kraut, fontina, Thousand Island dressing and everything crust; a Peekytoe crab crostini; and a wood-roasted artichoke. Unlike its Brooklyn counterpart, which offers only wine and beer, the LES spot boasts a full liquor license with an entire section (“Smoking”) devoted to smoky drinks. The wood-burning oven at the far corner of the open kitchen is painted to look like Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstrat” electric guitar. No word yet if this location will be tapped for future episode of HBO’s Girls, like the original. 63 Clinton St., New York, NY 10002;


Cleveland-style barbecue! You better believe it, says chef Michael Symon.

Mabel’s BBQ (Cleveland, Ohio)
You’ve probably heard of Texas-style barbecue. Chances are you’ve heard of Carolina-style, Kansas City–style and Memphis-style ’cue, too. But Cleveland-style? No way…until now. James Beard Award winner and Cleveland native Michael Symon has opened Mabel’s BBQ in an attempt to create a style that locals can call their own. A mustard-based sauce incorporates the nostalgic ballpark mustard the chef grew up with, and the meat is smoked low and slow, using applewood that is prevalent throughout the Midwest. The menu highlights several pig parts, such as crispy tails and ears, and pays homage to the city’s Eastern European roots by offering kielbasa alongside pork belly and spicy cabbage. Symon refers to the newly opened restaurant as his most important one to date, big words for a man already credited with helping to save an entire city’s restaurant scene. 2050 E. 4th St., Cleveland, OH 44115;

Various late-night dishes at NYC speakeasy Employees Only. The bar is expanding to Singapore, Miami and Austin.

Employees Only (Austin, Miami and Singapore)
Big news in the drinking world this week, as cherished West Village cocktail bar Employees Only will open an additional three locations this year. The bar and restaurant, which helped usher in the craft cocktail movement in NYC upon opening 12 years ago, will open in Singapore’s Chinatown neighborhood in June. Additional outposts will open in Miami Beach in the early fall and in Austin, Texas, by the end of 2016. First up, though, is the Singapore location, which will sport a curving serpentine bar and Art Deco–inspired aesthetic, much like the original speakeasy-style location. Some offerings will, of course, be adapted to appeal to local palates. Original location: 510 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014;

Tuna-tartare tacos are on the menu at Richard Sandoval’s upcoming rooftop restaurant Casa Obake in Chicago.

Richard Sandoval + Conrad Hotels (Chicago)
Opening this summer, Conrad Chicago just announced a partnership with famed chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval on three sophisticated restaurant concepts for the property. A ground-floor restaurant, Culaccino, will honor the neighborhood’s Italian roots via Italian pastries, salads, pizzas and savory dishes, while on the top floor, Baptiste & Bottle will serve a classic American menu and shareable plates such as salads, charcuterie and flatbreads alongside a bourbon-focused bar program. A rooftop restaurant, Casa Obake, will feature contemporary Japanese cuisine with some Latin influence, as sushi and hibachi-style Wagyu beef will pair with Japanese sakes and beers. Talk about a hotel dining destination! 101 E. Erie St., Chicago, IL 60611