When Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques, Tavern) announced late last year that they were closing their wine-and-small-plates restaurant A.O.C. to reopen in a different location, we might normally assume a months-long transition period, while we all waited for permits and whatnot and dreamed nostalgic dreams about Goin's black rice and saffron aioli. Not so for Goin and Styne, for whom daily low gear still probably means more than most of us do in a month. Tomorrow the new incarnation of A.O.C. opens its doors, conveniently right down the street from the old location, in a space some might remember from its days as Orso or, more recently, Il Covo.
A.O.C., which opened in the original location in 2002, will still be much the same in many ways, with the same charcuterie, cheese and wine that made the restaurant one of the best in town. In the kitchen: chef Lauren Herman, who was chef de cuisine at the previous A.O.C., pastry chef Christina Olufson and bartender Christiaan Rollich. The wine list (150 labels, 24 wines by the glass) is of course Styne's.
There will be small plates and large dishes to share, as well as new things on the menu: focaccia; a whole roast chicken (“Ode to Zuni”) with panzanella, fennel, Meyer lemon and green olives; and lamb shank with white bean bruschetta, tapenade and feta salsa verde. There will also be a variation of Goin's suckling pig, a dish she's been serving at Lucques for years. For more on that, turn the page.
At A.O.C. the pig will be a family-style Balinese version — Goin and her husband, David Lentz (the Hungry Cat), went to Bali last fall for a much-needed vacation — in the form of suckling pig confit. (Note to self and others: Check Lonely Planet for pig roasts.)
At Lucques, where Goin's suckling pig was on the menu at a Sunday supper a few weeks ago, Goin does pig in the manner of porchetta: splitting the pigs in half, then burying them in rock salt and herbs before confiting them and crisping the skin in a cast-iron pan in the oven. At the previous iteration of A.O.C., Goin recently served such a pig with roasted apples and potatoes, quince paste and romesco sauce.
For the Balinese pig at the new A.O.C., Goin emailed that when she and Lentz were in Bali, “We loved the food — and as you know suckling pig is a big deal there. So I'm playing around with a Balinese-influenced pig dish for the new A.O.C. — using a lemongrass sambal, coconut rice, a salad of shaved, raw bok choy and, of course, that crispy skin.” As if we needed more reasons to book a table.
As for the old location, so far no plans. Although if you're reading this and want the space for your next pop-up, email Christy at email@example.com.
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