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March 30, 2010

The Peripatetic Gourmet: NYC

Sushi nuovo

Topping this season's best-dressed list in New York, raw fish gets spruced up Italian-style—as crudo, served simply but exquisitely with oils, gelées, and a sexy new name to boot. "Crudo is basically a hybrid between ceviche and sashimi," explains Shea Gallante, the chef at newcomer Cru, whose crudi selection jumped from 6 to 14 within a month because of demand. "Everyone loves raw fish, but outside of a Japanese restaurant it's pretty taboo. This finally takes us beyond tuna tartare."

ESCA
Dinner, $100
402 W. 43rd St. 212-564-7272
THE CHEF David Pasternack, the star at this Mario Batali-backed southern Italian spot, catches some of the fish himself.
THE SPECIALTY The first (and perhaps the best) crudo in town: snapper with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and ground almonds, and abalone topped with diced green apples.
THE VIBE Business and pleasure, including a lively pretheater crowd.

CRU
Dinner, $110
24 Fifth Ave. 212-529-1700
THE CHEF Shea Gallante recently graduated to this high-rolling space from the hallowed kitchens of David Bouley.
THE SPECIALTY Playfully elegant combinations like white tuna with olive-and-espresso bean purée, and live sea scallops with mozzarella di buffala, caviar, and roasted peach.
THE VIBE Men who come for the 65,000-bottle cellar—and the women who love them.

PACE
Dinner, $80
121 Hudson St. 212-965-9500
THE CHEF Jimmy Bradley is the man behind downtown neighborhood favorites like the Red Cat and the Mermaid Inn.
THE SPECIALTY Rustic plates such as tuna covered in tomato mousse and toasted garlic, and bass with lemon and pickled onions.
THE VIBE Chic young TriBeCans in the mood for spaghettini and Super-Tuscans.

BAR TONNO
Dinner, $70
17 Cleveland Pl. 212-966-7334
THE CHEF Scott Conant, the celebrated chef at L'Impero, serves mainly crudo at this tiny new wine bar.
THE SPECIALTY Minimalist works of deep-sea art—say, oil-marinated anchovies with pickled heirloom eggplant, and sea bream with chanterelles, leeks, and seaweed.
THE VIBE A sexy late-night refuge with cozy bar-only seating for cool NoLIta foodies and off-duty chefs.

LURE FISHBAR
Dinner, $110
142 Mercer St. 212-431-7676
THE CHEF Josh Capon delivers a dazzling all-seafood menu for the owners of Lever House.
THE SPECIALTY Yellow-fin tuna topped with pickled chiles and olive-oil brûlée, and black sea bass with iced plum wine-vinegar gelée.
THE VIBE Luxury yacht a-go-go, complete with captains of industry sitting in captains' chairs.

—Christine Muhlke