DISH IT AGAIN, SAM. CHECK OUT THIS TRIO OF HOT NEWCOMERS FROM PAST HITMAKERS
Philadelphia: ALMA DE CUBA, 1623 Walnut St.; (215) 988-1799
Hip restaurateur Stephen Starr, of Pod, Tangerine, and Buddakan fame, opens his latest eatery, Alma de Cuba, early next month. Starr’s partner in the venture is none other than Douglas Rodriguez, father of Nuevo Latino fare, who designed the island-evoking menu, featuring entrees such as zesty octopus in olive sauce and crispy fried whole snapper. Wash it down with a daiquiri or a mojito under slowly revolving ceiling fans that conjure up sultry Havana. Olé.
San Diego: BALEEN, PARADISE POINT RESORT, 1404 W. Vacation Rd.; (858) 490-6363
The original Baleen in Miami proved so popular — praised by Gourmet magazine, among others — that the owners decided to open a West Coast clone. It serves serious food — both surf and turf varieties — but warms its steakhouse soul via ocean views, roaring fireplaces, and wooden chandeliers carved with monkeys. Start out with oysters and stone crabs from the “rickshaw raw bar” wheeled to your table.
New York: FIGS, Central Terminal Building, LaGuardia Airport; (718) 446-7600
Celebrity chef Todd English of Olives fame (Boston, Las Vegas, Aspen) opens a branch of his more casual concept, Figs, just where travelers need a good bite of Mediterranean fare most — in the food court of the Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. Lunch your layover away on flatbread pizza (try the fig and prosciutto), pasta, or an Italian panini sandwich. Buon appetito. —