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Dish: Little Owl, Really Cool Foods, Vanel, Gasparino's

At the risk of pulling a muscle, shall we dive right in? Here she is, the Monday, May 15th edition of the Eater Dish.

2006_04_littleowl.jpg1) Plywood alum Little Owl opens this week. This is Joey Campanaro and Gabriel Stulman's (both Jimmy Bradley-trained) American-Mediterranean located in the former Chez Michallet at 90 Bedford. With their pedigree -- and dishes promised such as Ricotta Cavatelli with Fava Beans in a Tomato Broth with Smoked Pork Belly, Pecorino and Basil and Halibut with Ramps, Mashed Potatoes and Lemon Créme Fraiche -- you'll want to call early and often to be sure you don't miss the early window on this one (212-741-4695).

2) Really Cool Foods, which Curbed previewed last week, will be soft opened in the next 48 hours in the UES space that was Rain. From PR materials: "The store, which features only strictly fresh and organic foods, will have ready -to- go and heat- at- home meals. But the main attraction is the opportunity to put together gourmet meals at home in under 20 minutes by choosing the prepared (chopped, diced, peeled, sautéed) components (sauces, vegetables, meat, etc.) for an infinite variety of recipes. " And not from PR materials: "I had a ten second exchange with the guy who appears to be the new manager of this new concept store. When I asked exactly what his store was he said "a better whole foods." I asked "what was the hardest part in getting financing," he answered "my backers made me redo the numbers on pricing and costs a hundred times before they thought I had something that would work." Love to see his business plan."

3) Via an East Village correspondent, we get word on Vanel on First, a Southern/Soul food venue which has quietly opened on First between 5th and 6th. The report: "it's open and it is good. they call themselves the 'best soul food in the village' and they've got uptown chops. first avenue between 5th and 6th streets. ordered take out tonight: bbq chicken tender, baby back ribs holy fucking shit good, collards, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and even the fucking *broccoli* was great. potatoes seem like they might be half pork fat or something -- very smooth and creamy and caramel colored, maybe with some bits of caramelized onion mixed in. it all leaves mama's in the dust." Beware of the official website, designed for maximum sell, including the tag line "Soul Food, Soul Music, Soul Movies."

4) Finally today, we have Gasparino's, another quiet East Village open. This is certainly the wild card of the bunch, however we mention the rustic Ital because George Gaspar emailed us his press release and, quite frankly, we appreciate that kind of pluck from a chef/owner. 'Unpretentious, old-fashioned Italian food' is promised in an 'Under the Tuscan Sun' atmosphere. Do note the shameless shilling that's in progress over at Menupages.

And that's that, friends. Got Dish? You know what to do.