We’re always on the lookout for restaurant news here at Food Republic. And news we often receive — we’re constantly pitched on restaurants that have pledged to open their doors in the near future, only to eventually learn about inevitable roadblocks and delays that have us questioning whether we should cover a restaurant during our fall preview — one that we may have already mentioned in our spring preview, months before. Such is the unpredictable nature of the restaurant world.

We’ve worked diligently to assemble this short roundup of promising restaurants that we are certain have recently opened for business and of the newest announcements we’ve come across regarding restaurants certain to open in the near future. Well, fairly certain. Take a look and be sure to reserve your table today!

Now Open

TAO Group’s newly opened Vandal pays homage to renowned street artists from around the globe.

New York, New York

Chef Chris Santos has established himself as a key figure in New York City’s Lower East Side dining scene, as his Beauty & Essex and the Stanton Social have remained hot spots for close to a decade — no easy task, especially in the Big Apple. This weekend, the chef — in coordination with Tao Group founders Marc Parker and Rich Wolf — opened Vandal, a bilevel restaurant, bar and lounge showcasing the work of world-renowned street artists alongside globally inspired street food from destinations as varied as Peru, Vietnam and Barcelona. The menu will play off of chef Santos’s personal travels and reflect his signature style of multiethnic small plates ideal for sharing. Signature dishes include a pressed New York hot pretzel with American Kobe tartare; crunchy jicama shell tostadas with butternut squash, avocado and crispy kale; chicken katsu and Hong Kong egg waffles with braised collard greens; and Greek donuts. An evolving beverage program features cocktails divided into three categories: sweet, savory and barrel-aged. The 360-seat, 22,000-square-foot space will feature a series of unique dining rooms each supporting site-specific art installations, as well as plush design elements such as leather sofas and delicate glass globe lights. Oh, and a “secret garden.” 199 Bowery, New York, NY 10002; vandalnewyork.com

Beverly Hills, California

The Belvedere
Located at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, the Belvedere opened its doors earlier this week after an extensive four-month remodel, unveiling striking new interiors and a full transformation of the menu. Building on a rich, 20-year history of exceptional cuisine, the reimagined menu now features Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and wild-caught seafood. The restaurant’s bright and spacious interior is now the backdrop for a breathtaking art collection that includes works from some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists. Accounting for nearly half the restaurant’s space, an outdoor dining area complete with lush, leafy foliage set alongside water and fire features will open in late January. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Executive chef David Codney is showcasing shareable appetizers, Mediterranean-inspired entrées and house-made pasta. Dishes include grass-fed lamb tagine with golden raisin couscous and cucumber yogurt, and whole roasted branzino marinated in olive oil and topped with preserved lemon and fennel. The Belvedere’s beverage program highlights an extensive selection of limited-production wines, craft beer and cocktails. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212; beverlyhills.peninsula.com

Coming Soon

Arancini at Gerard Craft’s soon-to-open fast-casual pasta bar in St. Louis.

St. Louis, Missouri

Porano Pasta
Famed St. Louis chef Gerard Craft (he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest this year) is close to finally opening his first fast-casual concept. During an interview back in April, Craft envisioned Porano Pasta as “fast-food Italian restaurant — pasta, a few simple sauces and endless combinations. It’s fast food that’s affordable, using really good ingredients.” Starting on January 26, diners will be able to choose from a variety of bases, including organic semolina pasta, gluten-free pasta, organic farro, Italian rice or romaine and kale lettuce mix, before selecting a protein from a choice of slow-roasted pork, beef meatballs, marinated grilled chicken, seasonal vegetables and spicy tofu. From there, it’s on to sauces — smoky Sunday sugo, traditional pomodoro, pumpkin seed or lime pesto, to name a few. Herbs and cheeses are among the toppings that guests can choose from to finish off their dishes. The first location of the concept (Craft hopes to eventually open more) is located in the downtown St. Louis Mercantile Exchange and juxtaposes natural and industrial design. 634 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63102; poranopasta.com

Saratoga Springs, New York

Salt & Char
Gray Kunz is headed upstate to make his return to New York. The globally acclaimed chef — he received four stars from The New York Times during his time at Lespinasse in New York City back in the 1990s and currently operates Café Gray Deluxe at the Upper House in Hong Kong — is opening a modern and alluring steakhouse in Saratoga Springs. Salt & Char’s menu will be composed of the highest quality ingredients and draw inspiration from the distinctive offerings of the region. Generous cuts of regionally farm-raised beef will be prepared in both classic and modern presentations, such as tomahawk steak and sirloin steak with flat bone, as well as Wagyu and dry-aged cuts. Sustainably sourced seafood and organic chicken dishes will complement the steaks, while refined sides like crispy polenta fries and creamed spinach with crumbled chicharones will round out the menu. The restaurant is expected to open early this year, approximately one year before the adjacent Adelphi Hotel is expected to be completed. 353 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866; saltandcharsteakhouse.com 

Los Angeles, California

Officine Brera
Housed in a 1920s warehouse and located next to its popular sister restaurant the Factory Kitchen, Officine Brera will transport diners to the Italian countryside starting on February 5. The historically inspired, contemporary workshop is being built to observe the craft of authentic Northern Italian cuisine, and the menu will reflect classic recipes of cucina povera, the countryside along the River Po’ Valley in Northern Italy, where both chef Angelo Auriana and restaurateur Matteo Ferdinandi grew up. Highlights include grilled meats, risotto, spit-roasted poultry and foul, slow-braised hunter-style meats, grilled fish and crustacean and market-driven vegetables — the kitchen includes a wood-burning grill, a wood-burning oven and a wood-burning rotisserie. A large selection of wines from Italy, along with a craft beer list and handcrafted cocktails, will complement the food in the 110-plus-seat space, which will feature both contemporary and industrial design elements. 1331 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021; officinebrera.com