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The Biggest Restaurant Mob Story of the 21st Century (So Far)
Plus, a new sushi spot, a new brunch, a new natural wine club, and more
If you read any restaurant story this week, this is the one: “I’ll Let the Chips Fall Where They May”: The Life and Confessions of Mob Chef David Ruggerio in Vanity Fair. “Ruggerio’s operatic rise and fall sounded like one of the most improbable career arcs I’d heard about—one part Goodfellas, another Kitchen Confidential,” writes Gabriel Sherman. It’s allegedly the first time Ruggerio — born Saverio Erasmo Gambino — spoke to a journalist on the record about his time in the underworld.
Ruggerio was arrested as chef-partner of Le Chantilly for “stealing $190,000 from a credit card company by falsifying credit card receipts for payment, in one case by as much as $30,000,” the New York Times reported in 1998. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Brunch service has begun at Francis Staub La Brasserie, a new spot from the founder of Staub cookware. The restaurant opened in late February in what had been Brasserie Les Halles, the launch restaurant for the late Anthony Bourdain.
“Although our concept is rather different from Les Halles,” reads the website, “we have kept Bourdain’s fabled steak frites as a tribute to the great man while adding our own emblematic dishes such as the soufflé with caviar and some of Mr. Staub’s personal favorites, the purée with herb and garlic butter, homemade French fries, and the steak with Café de Paris sauce.” (We’re excited about the souffles.)
La Brasserie (411 Park Ave. South, Manhattan), with over 170 seats and a 20-foot zinc bar — maintains the original footprint, with bay windows on the Park Avenue side that will eventually overlook a 12-seat terrace in the spring.
Brunch dishes include buttermilk pancakes with berries, a selection of oysters, bouillabaisse, eggs Benedict, and Camembert fondue. Reservations for dinner and brunch service can be made via Resy.
KwangHo Lee of Momoya opens a third location at 47 Prince Street, Manhattan, Momoya SoHo, on Wednesday, March 30. The two-level restaurant seats 96 people — it includes a 12-seat sushi bar as well as a cocktail and lounge area. Business partner Wataru Mukai and chef Subhash Gurung steer the sushi menu and Tetsuya Okuda runs the kitchen. Options include a $150 kaiseki option as well as sushi and a la carte items. Alchemist-style bartender Alex Ott designed the cocktails while beverage director Leo Lê, formerly of Uchu, assembled the wine list. It’s less casual than the Chelsea and Upper West Side locations, a spokesperson has confirmed.
Chef JJ Johnson announced via his newsletter he’ll be continuing his partnership with Rethink Food to keep feeding people in need in East Harlem. In addition, says he’s adopted Mosaic Preparatory Academy through Wellness in the Schools to bring quality nutrition to students. He has, so far, donated over 220,000 bowls through Fieldtrip. His email is part of a thank you for being nominated among the finalists for “Best Chef: New York State.” Read more about JJ Johnson here.
On the heels of RAW WINE's NYC spring festival that ends today, RAW WINE has launched a U.S. natural wine club. Founded by France's first female and openly gay Master of Wine, RAW WINE describes itself as both an international community and a series of wine fairs. The event has returned to 99 Scott in Brooklyn after a two-year hiatus.
Get six bottles of natural wine every month for $199, which includes “a mix of reds, whites, pinks, oranges, bubbles, and sweets throughout the year, as well as seasonal changes and the occasional themed box to help you explore concepts, grapes, regions, and flavors.”