Rolo’s, From Gramercy Tavern Alumni, Opens in Ridgewood, Queens

A pop-up with ties to High Street on Hudson, a vegan bistro from the Beyond Sushi team and more restaurant news.

By Florence Fabricant



Four former Gramercy Tavern alumni have collaborated, with two partners, to open this restaurant. “We all got fine dining out of our systems and wanted to do something modest and simple, like the restaurants we want to go to, like Frankies Spuntino,” said Howard Kalachnikoff, a former chef de cuisine at Gramercy Tavern. His partners are Rafiq Salim and Paul Wetzel, previously sous-chefs at Gramercy, and Ben Howell, who was a bar manager there and is overseeing front of the house. The pastry chef is Kelly Mencin, who is not a partner but was also at Gramercy Tavern. It took these colleagues more than five years to come back together for this project. The space is divided into a front room, meant to be the bar with banquettes and some high-top tables, and a partly skylit dining room that can seat about 100 people and has an open kitchen fitted with a wood-burning oven and grill. For now, the bar is a counter where baked goods, homemade pastas, dips, sauces and ice cream are sold to take away, along with grocery items, wines, liquors and cocktails that use locally made spirits. The chefs have come up with a dinner package, $17 per person, for takeout and delivery that consists of a main dish like grilled porchetta with sides, including fried rice and cauliflower salad. Wood-fired half chickens, grilled greens, braised butter beans with salsa verde and focaccias with substantial toppings are among the other menu options. Housemade charcuterie is on the horizon. Stephen Maharam, a regular Gramercy Tavern customer, is another partner, running the business side, and Kermit Westergaard, the architect and contractor, is also a partner by virtue of owning the building. His dog, Rolo, inspired the name. “Everyone in the neighborhood knows Rolo,” Mr. Kalachnikoff said. “We hope they’ll remember us, too.” (Opens Wednesday)

853 Onderdonk Avenue (Cornelia Street), Ridgewood, Queens, 718-417-6567,


Sandbar on Hudson

Late last summer, after High Street on Hudson closed amid the pandemic, James Shields, the owner of Brunetti, a nearby pizzeria, collaborated with Ellen Yin, an owner of High Street, to reopen her restaurant with a seafood menu, as a pop-up. Mr. Shields felt the neighborhood needed a place for seafood. That pop-up has now settled in for a longer run, serving oysters, clam chowder, fish tacos, salads, lobster mac and cheese, octopus skewers and also a burger, steak and chicken. He said they hoped to be able to reintroduce the breads for which High Street was known.

637 Hudson Street (Horatio Street), 917-388-3944,


Guy Vaknin and his wife, Tali Vaknin, who own Beyond Sushi, the chain of vegan sushi restaurants, are opening this new place featuring all kinds of bistro-style dishes using vegan stand-ins for meats, seafood and cheeses. “Steak” frites made with seitan, pasta with oyster mushroom “scallops,” oyster mushroom “calamari,” cauliflower “wings” and smoked coriander and garlic seitan in a smoked pastrami sandwich, will be some of the options. There will be a cashew “cheesecake” for dessert. The room, not open at present, has touches of luxury like royal blue velvet, gold accents and marble tables. It offers takeout and delivery and will add outdoor seating. (Friday)

199 Eighth Avenue (20th Street), 212-929-2889,


This new 4,200-square-foot commercial kitchen on the Lower East Side founded by Camilla Opperman and Samantha Slager accommodates food entrepreneurs, restaurants, caterers, pop-ups and others that need space for preparing takeout meals, cocktail deliveries and other food items in a space designed for flexibility. Different areas can be rented short-term, a minimum of 20 hours per month, or on a longer lease. Roberta’s Pizza will use part of the space for freshly made pizzas, pastas and sides for delivery. Ms. Opperman and Ms. Slager had careers in business management and marketing. There is also an area at the entrance that will be used, once permitted, for community events, cooking demonstrations and special dinners. There will also be a program to help participants navigate their legal, financial, safety and management needs. Users must have their own insurance and health department licenses.

196 Stanton Street (Ridge Street), 801-910-8915,

NYC Restaurant Week to Go

Last year’s annual winter restaurant week for bargain lunches and dinners sponsored by NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism organization, ended about a month before the pandemic lockdown and involved more than 350 restaurants. There was no summer event. Now it will be run as Restaurant Week to Go, from Jan. 25 to 31, with an optional extension through Feb. 7 with food for pickup or delivery from more than 500 restaurants. A main dish and a side will be $20.21 and will be listed on the website. There will be optional à la carte additions. Participating so far are Red Farm, Mercado Little Spain, Bar Boulud, Union Square Café, Upland, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Sweet Chili and ilili. Unlike previous years, there will be no fee for the restaurants to participate. The program will also include outdoor dining at restaurants that provide it. Tax, gratuity and delivery fees are extra. Mastercard, a sponsor, will provide a $10 rebate to cardholders. (They must spend at least $20, register in advance online and buy from restaurants that accept the card.)

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