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New Mexico-style breakfast burritos will be on deck at Ursula, opening in late September
Noah Fecks/Courtesy of Eric See

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NYC’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of Fall 2020

As NYC settles into a new normal, restaurateurs are forging ahead with plans to open new spots this fall

More than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City has settled into a new normal of outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery, with the limited return of indoor dining just on the horizon. With the percentage of positive virus cases remaining below one percent for over a month now in New York, restaurateurs are cautiously optimistic about the future and are moving forward with plans to open restaurants that they had previously pushed back.

Restaurants are still closing by the droves weekly, many in large part due to the previous indecision on the return of indoor dining and the inability to reach new agreements on rent. Still, many restaurateurs who were previously set to open in the spring are now emboldened by the city’s successful experiment with outdoor dining and have spent the past several months strategizing how to open under new circumstances.

With indoor dining set to return on September 30 at one-quarter capacity, more openings will likely be announced in the coming weeks and months. For now, here are the most exciting openings to look forward to through the end of this year.

The exterior of a brick and stone building with green construction scaffolding that bears the words Rolo’s
Rolo’s in Ridgewood
Drew Heffron

Rolo’s

Key players: Howard Kalachnikoff, Rafiq Salim, Paul Wetzel, and Ben Howell
Target open: Mid-October

Four Gramercy Tavern vets have teamed up on this new Ridgewood restaurant that focuses on wood-fired cooking. The neighborhood-y spot leans on a pre-set menu — which will likely cost $17 — and include three to five dishes that complement each other. Expect comfort fare like meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, fried chicken with a side of jalapeño focaccia, and garlicky greens, all part of a constantly changing menu. With the newly introduced indoor dining restrictions, the restaurant should still be able to seat a couple of dozen people inside, but the restaurateurs are looking to initially focus on takeout, delivery and a grocery store component out front selling fresh pasta, dips, and housemade ice cream. 853 Onderdonk Avenue, at Cornelia Street, Ridgewood

Em, Queens Night Market Em [Official Photo]

Em Vietnamese Bistro

Key players: Patrick Lin and Ly Nguyen
Target open: November

Bensonhurt’s acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant Em will open its doors in Dumbo later this year, with a full-service opening planned for February 2021. Owner Patrick Lin and chef Ly Nguyen opened the first location of Em in 2018 and developed a cult-following in the neighborhood, including a glowing review from New York Times critic Ligaya Mishan. Originally slated to open in May, the full-service bistro was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic — and also because Lin and Ly are expecting their first child. The new restaurant will offer a limited dinner menu to start and later expand to include Vietnamese-style seafood tapas, buttery noodles, and pitchers of beer when Ly returns from maternity leave in February. 57 Front Street, between Main and Dock Streets, Dumbo

Milu [Official]

Milu

Key players: Connie Chung, Vincent Chao, Milan Sekulic
Target open: Late September, October

After nearly a decade-long stint working in one of the city’s top fine dining destinations, chef Connie Chung is making a foray into fast casual. The former Eleven Madison Park chef left her job in April 2019 to focus on the opening of Milu, a Chinese restaurant just one block from the three-Michelin-starred establishment. Milu — opened in partnership with Vincent Chao, a former director of business development at Eleven Madison Park and the Nomad, and Milan Sekulic — will serve rice bowls, topped with proteins like duck, brisket, and sichuan-spiced cauliflower. A la carte dishes and family-style meals will also be available. 333 Park Avenue South, between East 24th and East 25th Streets

Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar pose in front of a newspapered wall at Long Island City’s Adda
Chintan Pandya (left) and Roni Mazumdar
Gary He/Eater

Dhamaka

Key players: Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar
Target open: Last week of October

Plans to open this restaurant in the spring were pushed back indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the duo behind hit Indian restaurants Adda and Rahi are finally ready to debut their Lower East Side establishment that will be located within the Essex Crossing mega-development. Aside from the restaurant’s 30 outdoor seats, there will be limited indoor dining, and a menu that comprises items like goat pulao, chicken curry, and Mumbai street food items like baida-roti, an egg-stuffed flatbread. 88 Essex Street, at Delancey Street, Lower East Side

The interior of a restaurant with red brick walls, wood columns, and some exposed light fixtures
Daughter in Crown Heights
Daughter [Official]

Daughter

Key players: Adam Keita, Sarah Elisabeth Huggins, and Dana Heyward
Target open: December

At Daughter, a community give-back program is already baked into the business model. Keita, an alum of popular coffee destinations Sey and Daymoves, has committed 25 percent of profits toward funding new business ventures in Crown Heights, where the coffee shop is located. Aside from its regular round up of top notch coffees, pastries, and natural wine, the coffee shop will serve free cafeteria-style meals for an hour daily to those in need. Eventually, with the full return of indoor dining, the coffee shop will be able to seat 50. 1090 St. John’s Place, near Kingston Avenue, Crown Heights

Sarashina Horii

Key players: Yoshinori Horii
Target open: November

New York has no shortage of esteemed ramen restaurants directly from Japan, but the soba scene hasn’t enjoyed as much international exchange. Tokyo shop Sarashina Horii was originally slated to open in April, but will now be making its debut in November, timed to the expansion of indoor dining allowances in the city. The owner, Yoshinori Horii, is the ninth-generation steward of the restaurant, and this opening marks the group’s U.S. debut. More than 12 hot and cold soba options will be available, including a popular clam one and one with duck and leek. Though plenty of New York restaurants serve soba, this debut is quite the heavyweight addition. 45 E. 20th St., near Park Avenue South, Flatiron

Rosella [Official]

Rosella

Key players: Jeffrey Miller, Yoni Lang, and TJ Provenzano
Target open: Late September

After a splashy pop-up debut at Rooftop Reds in the Brooklyn Navy Yard this August, Rosella has a permanent opening date on the calendar. The new sushi omakase restaurant follows years of overlap from Jeff Miller, Yoni Lang, and TJ Provenzano, three hospitality industry veterans who have teamed up at the new project. Miller and Lang previously helmed the kitchen at the James Beard Award-winning sushi restaurant Uchi in Dallas and Houston, while Miller and sommelier Provenzano worked together at Mayanoki, an inventive eight-seat sushi bar that opened in Alphabet City. Similar to Mayanoki, the menu at Rosella will emphasize regionally sourced and sustainable fish, served as part of omakase and a la carte services. Details about the new restaurant are still scarce, but in August Miller and Lang held a series of 15-course preview dinners, which included courses like albacore sashimi with ponzu, clams in uni butter, and shrimp kimchi rolls ($150). 137 Avenue A, between 8th and 9th streets

Eric See’s New Mexico-style breakfast burritos
Noah Fecks/Courtesy of Eric See

Ursula

Key players: Eric See
Target open: September 30

Restaurateur Eric See announced bittersweet news last month with the closure of the Awkward Scone, his brief yet well-received Bushwick cafe that was known for top-notch New Mexico-style breakfast burritos. For his next project, See is leaning into what worked best at the Awkward Scone — namely, food infused with his New Mexico-style cooking influences — and is opening a new restaurant to focus more on highlighting that cuisine. Breakfast burritos, donuts, and herbal tea lattes are still on deck for Awkward Scone fans, but Ursula’s menu expands from there to add more sweet and savory New Mexico-leaning dishes including stuffed sopaipillas, chile rellenos, posole, biscochitos, and pastelitos. Baker Lani Halliday will also be using Ursula’s space as Brutus Bakeshop’s production facility, and See says that diners will likely find her crowd-pleasing gluten free treats on the menu as well. 724 Sterling Place, at the corner of Bedford Avenue, Crown Heights

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