Weekend Guide: What to Hit While The City is Still Empty…

WITH SUMMER COMING TO A CLOSE, NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HARD-TO-GET-INTO HOT SPOTS AND WARM WEATHER OASES. HERE’S WHERE TO SPEND YOUR WEEKEND FROM NOON ‘TIL NIGHT.

dante

1. Afternoon Aperitivo: Dante
When a 100-year-old institution closes only to reopen under a corporate design juggernaut (AvroKO), it tends to raise a few questions. Fortunately here, it was never about reinventing the wheel, but rather keeping the spirit of its predecessor alive— namely that of a local standby you’ll want to return to again and again. Elements of the past— a tin ceiling, black-and-white images of patrons like Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson and the original’s famed cannoli— now speak to a new generation alongside spuntini (“snacks”) of crudo, charcuterie, roasted vegetables and flatbreads. Still, what may be most appealing is the new Dante’s embrace of “aperitivo,” an Italian tradition of afternoon happy hour with casual bites. From 4-7 pm daily, the restaurant hosts “Negroni Sessions” where its 11 iterations of the drink are just $9 including a “perfectly balanced” Negroni on-tap and the “Negroni Coffee Swizzle” made with del Maguey mezcal, Noilly Prat ambre, Meletti bitter and cold brew. Check it out before summer ends and it becomes increasingly less acceptable for you to imbibe before 5. 79-81 Macdougal St., 212.982.5275. 

jams

2. What’s Old is New: Jams
Back in the ‘80s, the original Upper East Side restaurant was a standby for the fashion-centric Studio 54 crowd— Andy Warhol is rumored to have dined there twice a week— and now the new Jams reincarnate promises to be no different (Harper’s Bazaar Fashion Director and CITIPHILE Laura Brown already stopped in on opening night). Located in the new 1 Hotel Central Park, Chef Jonathan Waxman is reviving vintage hits including his beloved smoked salmon and caviar pancakes, plus offering modern, seasonal fare like a squash blossom pizzette and charcoal-roasted eggplant with tzatziki and farro. Come fall, reservations will surely be hard to come by. 
1414 6th Avenue, 212.703.2007.

nowadays

3. Sunset Cookout: Nowadays
Grassy hills, picnic tables and ping-pong, Nowadays is the ultimate manifestation of summer. Open now through September, the 16,000 sq. ft. park was intended to feel like a friend’s backyard complete with music, food, drinks and games. Wooden sun decks and tea lights are scattered amidst bocce ball, chess and backgammon, while a tin-outfitted bar area stocks local canned beers, wine and sangria. The food, supplied by Berg’n’s Asia Dog, includes barbecue classics like grass-fed burgers, pulled pork and bratwurst, as well as healthier fare like a kale salad with quinoa and avocado. Music comes by way of vinyl records in which albums are played from start to finish, rather than mixing artists each song; as co-founder Justin Carter tells T magazine, “Playing full albums is a way of trying to make Nowadays feel more like our backyard; it feels more easygoing. You’ll be in the mood to take your time.” 56-06 Cooper Avenue near Wyckoff Ave., Queens, 718.386.0111.

kattheo

4. Beat the Hype: Kat & Theo
With Momofuku Noodle Bar and El Bulli vet Paras Shah behind the kitchen, Flatiron’s new Kat & Theo is guaranteed to drum up some serious attention. The restaurant’s menu fuses American and Mediterranean flavors in dishes like beet flatbread with arugula and cloumage, lamb shank with sorghum and farro and grass-fed beef carpaccio with pickled vegetables. On the sweeter side, desserts prove equally as tempting thanks to pastry chef Serena Chow (of Pearl & Ash fame)— Chow’s mango mousse dotted with micro-greens is stunning both on the eyes and palate. With only 70 seats in the house, it’s wise to swing by before everyone else gets back in town. 5 W. 21st St., 212.380.1950.

shirley

5. Cocktails n’ Class: Slowly Shirley
Nightlife impresarios Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns struck gold when they opened their Palm Beach-esque bar, The Happiest Hour, and now the duo is back at it with Slowly Shirley, an Art Deco cocktail den hidden just below their West Village hit. Between a drink menu full of re-imagined classics— think the Martini four ways— and an emphasis on “old school hotel service,” the space harkens back to the late ‘40s aka Hollywood’s Golden Age. “Back then, hotel bars on both coasts were the epicenters for the best drinks crafted by the most sophisticated bartenders and meticulously served,” says Neidich. “These spots were the evening’s destination and an experience to be savored.” Adding to its authenticity, Slowly Shirley’s playlist spans Louis Armstrong and the Rat Pack to Lou Reed. 121 W. 10th St., 212.243.2827. 

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