The New York Times's big restaurant preview story, in yesterday's Dining & Wine section, will no doubt provide plenty of fodder for foodies and critics. Personally, though, I'm more interested in the new restaurants' names. Alas, I didn't detect any creative breakthroughs in gastro-nomenclature—after all, as the lead article says, we're headed into an era of recycling and adjusted expectations. But I did spot some trendlets:
Names borrowed from other places, other times.
Bill's Bar & Burger doesn't have a chef or owner named Bill. Instead, the "American-style pub" is named after a place in Harrison, NY, that owner Stephen Hanson remembers from his childhood.
Los Feliz is a "tacqueria" (memo to NYT: it's "taquería") named for "a historic Los Angeles neighborhood." "Trendy Los Angeles neighborhood" is more like it, and I can't help wondering whether the name will be pronounced the L.A. way—loss FEE-liss—or the Spanish way: lohs fay-LEESE. It means "the happy ones," by the way.
So Nice They Named It Twice
Just like the city they're in.
Cafe Mei Mei serves Chinese food, right? Wrong. This Brooklyn restuarant will offer "seasonal fare" and seafood, and is named for owner Robert Ribant's Siberian husky. Yes, his dog. Bonus points for rhyming.
Xie Xie, "an energetic fast-casual restaurant celebrating the vibrant flavors of Asia," is opening a second location. The name means "thank you" in Mandarin and is pronounced "shay shay," more or less. All three of Xie Xie's partners have Italian names, but "Grazie" would be soooo boring, don't you think?
You Could Look It Up
Names borrowed from languages you only thought you knew.
Balaboosta "is Yiddish for the perfect housewife," according the article; the restaurant will have "references" to North Africa and the Middle East. I love this word and remember when, spelled with one o, it was the name of a quirky restaurant on University Avenue in Berkeley. A long time ago.
Maialino, which means "little pig" in Italian, was once owner Danny Meyer's nickname, which is probably more than you wanted to know about Mr. Meyer. The restaurant will be in the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Testaccio is named after the slaughterhouse district in Rome. Apt enough for a place catering to "the nose-to-tail contingent."
Bombolini, on Columbus Avenue, will sell Italian-style doughnuts, a k a bombolini.
Ardesia is Italian for "slate," as in the blackboard on which menu items will be listed. Regardless of meaning, a lovely name that rolls easily off the tongue.
Names that sounded good in the all-night brainstorming session, but...
Led Zeppole, possibly the first American eatery whose name is a pun on a heavy-metal band (whose name was itself a pun), "risks being all too accurate," says the Times. Zeppole are fried doughnuts traditionally served on St. Joseph's Day (March 19). Not to be confused with bombolini! Turns out there are almost as many varieties of Italian doughnuts as there are of pasta.
Stuffed Artisan Cannolis will feature fillings like PB&J and apple pie, to which I say, "Take the gun." Meanwhile, I can't help thinking of that poor stuffed artisan. Oh, and "cannoli" is already plural and doesn't take an -s.
Names that tell you what the food will taste like.
Piquant, in Brooklyn, will have a Southwestern menu. (So why not "Picante"?)
Saltie, also in Brooklyn, will be a sandwich/snacks/pastry shop, with hypertension on the side. Just kidding.
Rare Bar & Grill, a burger joint opening its third location in Chelsea.
Playing the Numbers
Count on the numeral-naming of restaurants to live on.
Gansevoort 69, because the address is 69 Gansevoort. Duh. It's in "the iconic space that was Florent." Don't you love restaurant-speak?
SD26, which gets its own feature story, is on East 26th Street, which seems to account for the "26." As for "SD," I'm guessing it alludes to the owner's other restaurant, San Domenico, which the Times calls a "staid dining temple on Central Park South." Just don't confuse SD26 with WD-40. Or with WD~50, for that matter.
Mamma mia! Pity whoever answers the phone.
Piccola Cucina Focacceria
Quattro Gastronomia Italiana
Stuzzicheria, a "sibling of Bar Stuzzichini."
This & That
Double-barreled names connected with an ampersand.
Abe & Arthur's, on West 14th Street, is named for the owners' grandfathers; the bar will be called Simyone, after the grandfather of another partner.
Pies & Thighs will serve chicken, pork, and, yep, pie, in Williamsburg. Bonus points for the rhyme.
In a Category of Its Own
Rabbit in the Moon, a lovely image even when attached to a "gastropub," a word that always sounds to me like an unwelcome mollusk.