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EaterWire: Naniwa DOH'd, Merkato55 Not Ready Yet

MIDTOWN—We begin with our Friends at the Department of Heath, clearly eager to assert themselves in '08 as they did in '07. A tipster sends the above photo and this note: "Little-known Midtown sushi mainstay Naniwa (46th betw 5th and Mad) was shut down by the DOH on the 2nd of January. Building official says it was a long time coming and that a bribery charge is suspected." [EaterWire Inbox]

MEATPACKING—While the kids at Urbandaddy have reason to believe that chef Marcus Samuelsson's new joint, Merktao 55, is opening next Wednesday, official sources say that's a flat-out non-fact. End of next week at the very earliest, according to Baltz Co., the PR firm of record for the 'African pan-fusion' restaurant. The staff roster sill has some holes, for example, and while the kitchen is now operational, it ain't ready for the big show in MePa just yet. [EaterWire]