Longtime NYC chef David Burke — whose name appears prominently at his restaurants, including at ones that he’s no longer involved in — is apparently still game to open new restaurants in the city. On Monday, the chef opened Woodpecker by David Burke, an American restaurant in Nomad with a wide-ranging menu serving everything from pizza with crickets in the crust to Korean-style wings.
The more than 100-seat restaurant, located at 30 West 30th St. between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, serves pizzas, meats, and veggies cooked out of a wood-fired oven. He’s particularly highlighting that pizza with crickets, which uses a cricket dough and comes with crickets, tomato, and jalapeño pesto.
The menu — which day-to-day will come from chef Carmine Di Giovanni — also includes a few Burke signatures from over the years, like a $19 appetizer where strips of bacon arrive to the table on a clothesline. Some of the newer dishes also bear a hint of gimmick, such as a lobster calzone where the tail sticks out of the top. (A release about the dish calls it “highly ‘Instagrammable.’”)
Other options include a dish called “broccoli mops,” which comes with avocado, quinoa, citrus, and fennel, and a side called “hipster fries,” with parmesan, bacon, shishito, and chili oil. A huge slate of more conventional-sounding dishes, like a roasted branzino and a squid ink linguini, is available as well. See the food and drink menus in full below.
Burke once had a bunch of restaurants across New York, boosted by positive reviews while at River Cafe, James Beard Foundation nods, and recurring TV appearances on shows like Top Chef Masters.
But by 2014, he was no longer as involved in four different restaurants, and by 2016, several of them had closed. He signed a partnership with ESquared Hospitality shortly after, opening Tavern62 by David Burke on the Upper East Side and BLT Prime by David Burke in Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel. Despite the relationship, ESquared is not involved at Woodpecker. Burke has also taken over food and bev programs at a hotel elsewhere in the state.
And it’s not a huge surprise that Burke is dabbling in offbeat-sounding menu items for the new restaurant. He’s known for helping to popularize cheesecake pops and also has a line of flavor sprays, which literally spray on the flavor of truffle, bacon, or basil onto food.
Woodpecker opens on Monday, and as part of its debut, the restaurant is offering 20 percent off every bill. No liquor license yet; the restaurant is BYOB for now.