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OpenTable Announces 100 Top U.S. Restaurants of 2013

OpenTable Announces 100 Top U.S. Restaurants of 2013

You probably best know OpenTable.com as a way to make reservations, but it’s also a great way to review restaurants that you’ve dined at. The site has combed through more than 20 million reviews, and has released their ranking of the top 100 restaurants in America according to diners.

Here are the top 10:

10) goosefoot, Chicago
9) The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
8) The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, N.C.
7) Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
6) o ya, Boston
5) Charleston, Baltimore, Md.
4) Hall's Chophouse, Charleston, S.C.
3) n/naka, Los Angeles.
2) Mama’s Fish House, Paia, Hawaii
1) St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa, Calif.

We reached out to OpenTable’s chief dining officer Caroline Potter for insights as to methodology, differences between this year’s list and last year’s, and trends. Here’s what she had to say:

The Daily Meal: How was the list assembled this year? What methodology did you use?
Caroline Potter:
Restaurants had to have a minimum number of qualifying reviews during the year to be considered for the list. Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to a score calculated using the following variables: The average rating in the "overall" category; the restaurant’s overall rating relative to the average for its metro area; the total number of qualifying reviews; and a diner influence rating based on the average number of individual restaurants reviewed by the restaurant’s diners during the qualifying period.

How is this year’s list different from last year? What are some of the top newcomers?
The 2013 list differs from the previous year in scope. In 2012 we had winners in 27 states and D.C., while this year we have winners in 30 states and D.C. California and New York restaurants remain exceedingly popular, yet many other parts of the country have thriving fine dining scenes, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas — and beyond.

Many of the 2013 honorees are new to the list. Recently opened restaurants have shown that they are really hitting the ground running (such as St. Francis, goosefoot, and Noisette). Hot spots, such as Girl & the Goat and Rasika are getting their due, and long-running establishments, such as La Grenouille, remain atop their game.

What are some top dining trends that you noticed?
The big takeaway here is that the definition of fine dining continues to evolve. There's real freedom now for both chefs and restaurateurs to execute their unique vision of fine dining, and this is a real win for diners. The category of fine dining now includes everything from refined, multicourse tasting menus, to shared small plates, funky flavors, hearty entrées, and sophisticated spins on typically casual fare. As a result of this new diversity, fine dining has become an experience that is growing in access and appeal.

A common thread, or trend, among these restaurants is that they are all very hospitality oriented. They each work diligently to make sure that diners leave feeling special; that attentiveness will help these honorees continue to stand out.


How Much Is OpenTable Really Worth To Priceline?

Late last week, the online travel giant Priceline announced its decision to acquire the restaurant reservation leader OpenTable in an all-cash deal for $2.6 billion. The offer price of $103 a share was a good 47% higher than the $70 figure OpenTable closed at last Thursday, June 12. The sharp premium valuation will suggest to some that there were possibly alternative bids, suggested as well as investors lapped up the shares to help them close at almost $104.50 - above the bid and at a level the stock was last seen at in April 2011. The premium over Priceline’s offer price indicates that investors are optimistic about a competing bid by other big players in the industry.

Our analysis of OpenTable values the company at roughly $1.65 billion - close to its market cap before Priceline announced the acquisition deal. So is Priceline really justified in paying a $1-billion premium for OpenTable? As we detail in this article, Priceline can justify the large premium of the bid, even as it has to integrate OpenTable’s business with its own.

See our complete analysis for OpenTable | Priceline

OpenTable is the undisputed leader in the online restaurant reservation industry, with the company reporting a restaurant customer base of 31,583 at the end of Q1 2014. The company seated a little less than 47 million diners at these restaurants in the first three months of the year, with 90% of them in North American restaurants. Data compiled by us for every quarter since Q1 2008 shows that OpenTable has seated almost 570 million diners worldwide in the last seven years, with the number of diners growing at an average of 35% each year.

But OpenTable’s remarkable growth story isn’t one without problems. The biggest problem the company has faced over the last few years has been a steady increase in costs as it struggles to replicate its success in North America in other international markets – primarily U.K., Germany and Japan – as well as to increase its share of the North American market by extending its reach to regions outside major metropolitan areas where it already has a strong grip. This shortfall is what Priceline would be looking to bridge in order to unlock huge value as a part of the deal with OpenTable.

Priceline’s operations are huge in scale compared to OpenTable’s. To put things in perspective, Priceline reported a pre-tax income of $2.4 billion from total revenues of $6.8 billion in 2013 while OpenTable’s figures for the period were $46 million and $190 million respectively. While Priceline employs the services of 9,000 employees, OpenTable’s headcount was 664 at the end of Q1 2014. But the most important factor is that Priceline’s operations in international markets account for more than 90% of its income, whereas OpenTable’s international business is yet to report a quarterly profit.

Even though Priceline intends to operate OpenTable as an independent business under its existing management - a strategy it has successfully implemented for its acquisitions of Booking.com and Kayak over the years - it will look to benefit from the cost synergies that exist for OpenTable’s restaurant reservation business from its existing workforce overseas. Priceline’s CEO, Darren Huston, indicates this quite clearly by mentioning that the company aims to help “the OpenTable team accelerate their global expansion.” The number of OpenTable’s restaurant customers outside North America has remained around 7,700 for the last six quarters, and we currently forecast a 5% annual growth in this figure over the future. But Priceline’s strong global presence will help international growth jump to between 15-20% annually in coming years. Making this change in the chart above shows that this boosts our price estimate for OpenTable by roughly 20% – an increase of about $350 million to its total value.

Also, as Priceline integrates OpenTable’s technology with its own offerings, it should cut millions in the latter’s operating costs – especially in support-related expenses which represent the biggest chunk of OpenTable’s quarterly expenses. We currently estimate that the company’s operating margins will only see minor improvements over the years to come, but the Priceline deal can potentially see margins rise to above 80% by the end of our forecast period as operating costs grow at a considerably slower rate than revenues. This produces a 15% improvement to our price estimate, or a $250 million increase in value.

At the same time, marketing expenses will also be considerably lower for OpenTable, both internationally and in the U.S., as Priceline’s existing sales & marketing workforce will most likely be entrusted with these activities for OpenTable too. While OpenTable will continue to advertise its own products separately, the ensuing reduction in headcount should shrink SG&A expenses to no more than 40% of gross profits by the end of our forecast period compared to the figure of 60% we estimate in the chart below. This results in what is by far the most significant upside potential for OpenTable’s share value as a result of this deal. The 45% upside that this change to the chart below represents means that OpenTable’s value could increase by more than $700 millionfrom SG&A cost benefits.

Taken together, the three factors we detail above, increase OpenTable’s value by around $1.3 billion in Priceline’s hands. So the latter stands to gain, even at the rich valuation of the $2.6 billion bid. And this estimated value for OpenTable does not even include the potential for faster growth in the number of subscribing restaurants from North America, faster diner growth as Priceline adds restaurant reservations as a part of vacation packages, or the higher cross-sell opportunities provided by OpenTable to Priceline’s advertising platform. Because of this, we believe the popular travel deal-broker has got itself a really good deal.

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America’s hottest 100 restaurants? 25 are in California, 3 in Las Vegas

Juniper & Ivy in San Diego’s Little Italy area made OpenTable’s list of the hottest 100 restaurants in the U.S.

Who has time to sample and select the 100 hottest restaurants in the U.S.? OpenTable diners, that's who.

Travelers in pursuit of good food will find the "100 Hottest Restaurants in America for 2016" favors California, Florida and New York -- and finds little culinary buzz in the Northwest.

The list includes 25 restaurants in California (West Hollywood eateries get a lot of love), four in Colorado, three in Las Vegas, two in Arizona and one in Oregon. Hard to believe there wasn't one worthy hot spot in Washington state.

In this hot list, restaurants aren't ranked they're listed in alphabetical order.

Here are places to try near and far in the Golden State:


Your Reservation Has Been Canceled

Gregory and Daisy Ryan opened Bell’s, a 35-seat French bistro in Los Alamos, California, in 2018. The pair had worked in restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, and Austin before returning to Daisy’s hometown. The couple had several choices when it came to online reservation booking platforms and ultimately went with Tock, a system that they say worked so well, the restaurant didn’t even need a phone. “I didn’t want to have people sitting at the bar and listen to me explain something that someone can find on the internet,” says Gregory Ryan. “I didn’t want that to ruin someone’s experience.” During a typical dinner service pre-COVID-19, about 80 percent of guests had reservations.

Because of its location, in a small town near California’s central coast wine country, Bell’s wasn’t beholden to the early occupancy reduction mandates, and later closures, that happened so quickly in major cities like New York and San Francisco in response to the spread of COVID-19. “It wasn’t until the second week of March that we knew something was on its way — but we didn’t know what it looked like yet,” Gregory Ryan says. He tried to figure out a way to use Tock to accommodate takeout instead of reservations and events in an effort to stay open. Plus, the restaurant didn’t ever offer takeout before. “Not because we think we’re too good for it, or anything,” he says. “Because we only have two [chefs] on the line.”

But before he could figure out a technical solution on his own, he says, Tock contacted him offering a new online ordering system he could implement quickly. When he first considered takeout, Gregory Ryan says, “I was like, ‘Oh, shit, am I going to have to get a phone?’ My staff was like, ‘No, absolutely not.’” Today, Bell’s remains phone-free.

“We opened a restaurant for certain reasons,” he says. He didn’t ever expect takeout to be his business’s lifeline.

Since the spread of COVID-19 began forcing restaurants across the country to cease dining room operations, there’s been much talk about its effect on both individual restaurants and the industry as a whole. But what about the industries that support it? Reservation services like Tock, OpenTable, Yelp, and Resy are big business, and make their money by charging restaurants to use the software. Diners use them to book available tables, and restaurants also use them to manage their dining rooms’ floor plan and record notes about customers. It’s how the host knows where to seat you when you show up for your 8 p.m. booking.

Plans vary, but a restaurant can expect to pay at least several hundred dollars per month for a basic plan that includes both reservations and table management. Prices go up from there depending on additional features like custom messaging, ticketed events, or, in OpenTable’s case, the number of people it brings in the door. OpenTable collects a per-diner commission fee on each reservation it facilitates, and busy restaurants can expect a monthly bill that easily stretches into thousands of dollars.

Of all the brands, OpenTable is the largest reservations service in the U.S. In mid-March, as the national rollout of dining restrictions was just beginning, the company released year-over-year data that showed a 45 percent diner reduction in Seattle, 40 percent in San Francisco, 30 percent in New York, and 25 percent in London, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Ten days later, on March 23, every market listed on OpenTable’s COVID-19-inspired state of the industry dashboard showed a 95 to 100 percent reduction in bookings, based on a representative sample of around 20,000 of the roughly 60,0000 restaurants the company supports worldwide. That is: There were essentially zero reservations booked.

In response to the slowdown, OpenTable and its competitors have been forced to pivot as quickly as the restaurants they serve. All fairly quickly suspended most fees they charge restaurants to use their software. They’ve also proactively begun making changes to their apps and website to reflect the realities of the restaurant business today, offering both temporary and permanent solutions for restaurants that saw their operations upended overnight.

OpenTable added a grocery feature, allowing shoppers to reserve a shopping time slot at a store the same way they’d book a seating time at a restaurant. According to Andrea Johnston, OpenTable’s chief operating officer, the idea came from an OpenTable advisory board member — a restaurateur himself — who noticed that many restaurants were operating as small grocers to stay open. So far, in OpenTable’s hometown of San Francisco, just a handful of businesses offer the service, but Johnston says the company is actively onboarding several large regional grocery chains, with more to come. She confirmed that the service is free for all grocery stores and restaurants-turned-grocers, whether or not they’ve worked with OpenTable in the past.

Johnston says she’s also encouraging partner restaurants to update their profiles to reflect current operations, including delivery, takeout, gift cards, and fundraisers, which are then displayed in the OpenTable app. The company is waiving gift card fees through June previously, restaurants paid $25 per month to sell gift cards through the OpenTable system. And at this point more than 1,500 restaurants have added their fundraising efforts to their listings, Johnston says.

OpenTable had already added a delivery category to its app in 2019. Listings are in partnership with companies like Uber Eats and Caviar, which each charge their own fees on top of the booking service. In the last month or so, clicks on delivery options within the app have grown 172 percent.

A reservations app probably isn’t the first stop for a diner looking to support local restaurants right now, and in response, these companies have had to modify their marketing strategies. To diners, OpenTable, Tock, and Resy have all begun sending emails with lists of partner restaurants open for delivery or takeout. To restaurants, they’re sending a steady stream of news, ideas, and tactical information to survive. OpenTable has launched a dedicated restaurant resource center to share news and product information related to the coronavirus pandemic, and hosts a weekly webinar series for restaurants. Resy, too, just announced a new industry-focused podcast in partnership with the Welcome Conference.

“It has been nice to see that for the most part they’ve been doing what they can to support us — obviously knowing that supporting us supports them in the long run,” says Gina Buck, general manager of Concord Hill, a small Brooklyn restaurant that uses OpenTable. The restaurant remains open for takeout, serving food and cocktails seven days per week from noon until 10 p.m.

Speaking from the middle of her new busy workday fielding, packaging, and distributing to-go orders, Buck says she isn’t sure what more reservations services could offer to help. “I think the normal before this has completely died and will never exist again,” she says. “We’re able to stay open. We’re doing okay. It’s just two of us — we can’t afford to bring anyone else in at the moment, but we are getting through this.”

OpenTable competitor Resy has also shifted its strategy to support eating at home. Instead of reservations, diners can order takeout food directly through its app and website. They select a meal option, choose a pickup time, and pay, all through the Resy platform.

Greg Lutes is chef-owner of 3rd Cousin, one of the handful of restaurants in San Francisco that’s currently offering takeout via Resy. “It’s useful, but there’s not much volume in it,” he says, noting that they’ve sold “a few meals” through the platform. He also signed up with Uber Eats and DoorDash for the first time, but says most customers just call orders in to the restaurant directly.

When a customer books a pickup on Resy, it’s communicated to the restaurant the same way a reservation would be: in an app that’s meant for a front-of-house staffer to manage. Lutes was recently surprised by a customer who showed up at the restaurant to pick up a family meal he had only just ordered. Even so, he plans to continue offering takeout through Resy, and isn’t worried about accepting orders from multiple sources. “We need all the revenue we can get,” he says. Resy has also modified the format of the restaurant pages on its website to allow operators to link to outside initiatives, like fundraisers. “It’s so that customers can see all of the preferred ways that their favorite restaurants are asking for support,” says Resy co-founder and CEO Ben Leventhal.

While all the big booking services have adjusted their functionality to meet the moment, reservations and event ticketing service Tock, used by more than 3,000 restaurants worldwide, went a step further, building out an entirely new product — in a week. Tock To Go launched March 16 for existing and new Tock customers. It allows customers to reserve and purchase restaurant meals for pickup or delivery and charges the restaurant a fee of 3 percent per order. (Tock has waived its regular monthly fees.) “We cannot operate without doing that,” says Nick Kokonas, Tock’s co-founder and CEO, who’s also the co-owner of Chicago’s Alinea Group restaurants.

Tock’s To Go system has allowed restaurants to sell completely new, exclusive-to-takeout offerings, something that’s proven useful for the kind of fine dining and higher-end establishments that Tock has become known for. In New York, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurants are offering takeaway boxes of various goods at both the Manhattan and Tarrytown locations. Customers can select from a variety of options, including stews and purees, garden vegetables, grass-fed beef, dry-aged pheasant, bread, and even a sommelier-selected bottle of wine to accompany a diner’s selections.

In San Francisco, Tosca Cafe recently reopened under new ownership in the midst of the pandemic by selling family-style dinners — shrimp alfredo, spaghetti alla Norma — to go on Tock, and in LA, sister restaurants Bestia and Bavel are both offering weekly changing menus that have sold out within days of being listed on Tock. Proceeds go to maintain employee health care, and chef-owner Ori Menashe says if demand remains high, he may even be able to re-hire some staff to keep up.

Kokonas says that Tock currently supports close to 400 restaurants offering takeout across the U.S., Europe, and Australia, with another 650 in some stage of onboarding. One month in, the company already processes nearly $1 million in to-go sales per day. On one weekday earlier this month, restaurants on the platform sold 11,700 orders for nearly 40,000 meals.

“Tock is not just a booking system,” says Kokonas, “it’s a sales engine . and it links and leverages, meaningfully and transparently, to the largest networks — search and social media.”

At Bell’s, Gregory Ryan uses social channels to promote the restaurant’s current offerings on Tock To Go, including kits for making the restaurant’s popular egg salad sandwich at home, and other a la carte offerings, like CSA-style produce boxes. Ryan likes that Tock’s system of pre-ordering gives restaurant staff some idea of what to expect each day. It also helps him know how much of which ingredients and supplies to purchase.

“That’s why takeout is always tough, because you’re never really sure when something’s going to come,” he says. “But if you’re able to wake up in the morning and know, ‘We have seven takeout orders, six chicken dinners tonight, and an egg salad,’ you’re at least working toward something. As those continue to populate [throughout the day] you’re a little bit better able to handle the information.”

He’s also happy that it’s allowed him to continue to keep 11 of his employees on payroll, though he says everyone has taken “a little bit of a haircut” on their paychecks. (Ryan and his wife stopped paying themselves completely.)

Still, even with new measures in place, not all booking platforms are pivoting as gracefully. So far, Yelp is the only major reservations provider to announce a reduction in staff, laying off or furloughing 2,100 of its approximately 6,000 employees. OpenTable’s Johnston says for them, anything related to a layoff would be “an absolute last resort.” At Tock, Kokonas says he will be hiring soon. “We never really stopped,” he says. “The only tricky part to bringing on new employees is training. We will figure that out.”

As they work to support restaurants, executives at reservations companies are asking the same questions as chefs and restaurateurs: How long will this last? Will anyone even want to come and sit down for a meal in a few weeks? “Restaurants are going to reopen at some point with occupancy restrictions, extra and important safety measures, and lower demand,” says Kokonas. “Yet — and this is very important — the fixed costs of rent and utilities remain the same, and the business model was built with high demand in mind.”

Leventhal indicates that Resy would likely continue to support its expanded initiatives in the future, but stops short of confirming any product changes. “This is without a doubt a reset moment for the industry,” he says. “Evolution, innovation, and creativity are going to be crucial for restaurants, and the tech platforms that support them, to survive in a post-COVID world.”

Tock To Go is now a permanent part of Tock’s functionality moving forward, built directly into the product’s dashboard. It’s an acknowledgement that the industry isn’t going to go back to “normal” anytime soon, and much about the future of the industry is unknown. “Will there be a market for $35 takeout meals in 2022? Who knows?” says Kokonas.

For OpenTable, Johnston says the company will continue to offer new options as long as restaurants need them. “I hope that the world won’t continue to need a product that supports grocery store reservations,” she says, “but we will keep it free and available as long as necessary.”

Disclosure: Resy’s Ben Leventhal was one of the co-founders of Eater, but is no longer involved in its operations.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reflected data from the OpenTable State of the Industry dashboard that has since been clarified.

Kristen Hawley writes about restaurant operations, technology, and the future of the business from San Francisco. She’s the founder ofExpedite, a restaurant technology newsletter that’s existed, in some form, for the last seven years.


The 2017 Fall Restaurant Preview

Highly anticipated restaurant openings, and an industry in transformation.

Resy, now used by roughly 1,000 restaurants in 80 cities across the country, has seated more than 25 million diners since its inception, and the number of meals served to those using its system quadrupled in the year that ended in May, Mr. Leventhal said.

“In fine dining, you have the cost of business going up, the notion of fine dining evolving rapidly, a lot of restaurants being forced to rethink their formats and business models,” he said. “That means you have to make sure every table is working for you, and restaurants are finally embracing technology that can help them do that.”

Many restaurants that use Resy, for instance, require diners making a reservation to enter a credit-card number, in an effort to discourage no-shows and cancellations about 1 percent require a down payment. Resy follows up to remind diners when a reservation they made is imminent.

Users can also put themselves on a waiting list at some restaurants, which makes it much easier to ensure that all tables will be filled, since most cancellations happen within 24 hours before the reservation time. As a result, Resy says, it has brought no-shows down to under 4 percent on average the usual rate is as much as 15 percent, the company said.

What to Cook This Weekend

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the weekend. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • Gabrielle Hamilton’s ranchero sauce is great for huevos rancheros, or poach shrimp or cubed swordfish in it.
    • If you’re planning to grill, consider grilled chicken skewers with tarragon and yogurt. Also this grilled eggplant salad.
    • Or how about a simple hot-dog party, with toppings and condiments galore?
    • These are good days to make a simple strawberry tart, the blueberry cobbler from Chez Panisse, or apricot bread pudding.
    • If you have some morels, try this shockingly good pan-roasted chicken in cream sauce from the chef Angie Mar.

    Perhaps the company’s biggest coup, though, was winning over Union Square Cafe when that perennially popular New York restaurant reopened in December. Danny Meyer, the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, was on the OpenTable board for almost two decades and one of its best ambassadors.

    In the mid-1990s, when Mr. Meyer was working to open his second restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, he tried starting a similar system himself. He didn’t even think about using it to allow customers to make reservations online rather, it was to be an answer to a perennial problem.

    “I was tired of this recurring problem we had in the restaurant, where people would always be yelling up and down the stairs, saying, ‘Who’s got the reservation book?’ ” Mr. Meyer said. “One time a fraternity brother of mine pulled a prank and took the book out of the restaurant entirely — it was not a nice prank.”

    So when he opened Eleven Madison Park in 1998, OpenTable was taking the reservations. When Blue Smoke opened in 2002, the only way to make a reservation was via OpenTable a phone line was discontinued. “I’ll never forget it,” Mr. Meyer said. “An online blog called Daily Candy announced that step and within hours, we had filled the entire restaurant for a month.”

    But OpenTable had its limitations. Until recently, for instance, it would not link the reservation systems at the Union Square group’s restaurants. A free-spending diner who patronized Union Square Cafe for years could show up at Gramercy Tavern for the first time, and the host would not know him.

    Mr. Meyer said that, to some extent, OpenTable had been criticized unfairly. After all, it still seats far more diners in restaurants like his than any other service, and serves all the Union Square group restaurants except Union Square Cafe and the new Martina, which doesn’t take reservations. Nonetheless, he said, “the latest round of assaults from start-ups looking to eat their lunch is more than they’ve ever faced before.”

    The rivals have easily identified OpenTable’s Achilles’ heel: the fees it charges restaurants every time someone books a table using its system. For reservations made on OpenTable, the restaurant pays $1 for each diner. Even if reservations are made on the restaurant’s website, OpenTable charges 25 cents a diner. And if they don’t show up, the restaurant recoups none of those fees, several restaurateurs said. (OpenTable, however, says it charges fees only for guests who do show up.)

    That galled Anjan Mitra, proprietor of Dosa, a popular Indian restaurant with locations in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. Many of his diners are repeat customers, he said, coming two or three times a month and using OpenTable to make reservations.

    “I don’t mind paying OpenTable for new customers, but OpenTable was charging me for customers I already had and knew well,” Mr. Mitra said.

    He said he paid as much as $50,000 to OpenTable in fees on top of the $295 a month for use of its technology. “Consumers don’t know this,” Mr. Mitra said. “They just love the convenience, and I understand that.”

    Dosa has switched to Yelp, which now offers several features to help restaurants manage their reservations — a surprising twist for a company that many restaurateurs love to hate for its sometimes-withering user reviews.

    Yelp says more than 4,000 restaurants now use its service for reservations. The company doesn’t need to attract marquee dining spots to entice users, who are already coming to it for reviews, giving it a major advantage.

    Yelp Reservations charges a restaurant $249 a month, and, in exchange, a reservations option is added to the top of its page on the Yelp app and website. “Many people planning to make a reservation for dinner are already opening Yelp to figure out where they want to go, and now they can see whether there’s a table waiting for them or not,” said Vishwas Prabhakara, the general manager of Yelp Reservations.

    He said the flat-monthly-fee model used by most of the new reservation services helped discourage a restaurant practice that infuriates customers: holding back tables during prime hours. Some restaurants do that because they know they can fill the tables on their own at those times, and they like to seat valuable guests who show up at the last minute.

    “There’s no incentive to hold tables back because you’re not having to pay for each reservation,” Mr. Prabhakara said.

    Nick Kokonas, an owner of the Chicago restaurants Alinea and Next, said he helped found the online reservation system Tock in 2014 because he was frustrated with his own experience with OpenTable.

    “People in the restaurant business have moved from fear of change to a recognition that OpenTable was built in 1998,” he said. “They haven’t really kept up innovation-wise, and part of that is because of the architecture of their technology.”

    He said that, until this summer, OpenTable gave restaurants only “one blank box on the screen” to enter a wide range of information on a diner — such as dietary restrictions, preferred nights of the week and wines ordered — instead of separate fields that made it easy to see if a customer, say, has lactose intolerance.

    “Not to be creepy, but instantaneous and easy-to-read customer data is the best way we have to give the customer the best service,” Mr. Kokonas said. “It lets us know that the last time you were here, you finished with a special spiced tea that you liked, and we can make that happen again and easily.”

    Mr. Jampol of OpenTable said that his company also compiles piles of similar data on customers that restaurants could use — but that they rarely want it. “Restaurateurs have a lot of things to keep track of every day,” he said. “And as much as they say they want data, they’re often too busy to dive into it.”

    Nonetheless, Mr. Kokonas and others see an opportunity to do it better. Tock, which was co-founded by Brian Fitzpatrick, a former Google engineer, spent roughly two years building its system, testing different components with restaurants and getting feedback. It is web-based rather than app-based, because that makes it easier for restaurants to log in and configure Tock to their needs.

    Other new reservation services are also looking to please restaurants. Reserve has adopted an “open data model” that allows its restaurants to see what diners are looking for, and, since it tweaked it service in May, it is adding more than 100 restaurants a month (for a total of 850), said Peter Esmond, its vice president for customer success.

    Say a potential customer is seeking a table for four at 7:30 p.m., and a restaurant is showing nothing available at that time. If it has a table available then that it has held back, it can quickly add it to its Reserve page in an effort to attract the booking.

    Thus, more control over how reservations are made is put in the hands of restaurants, rather than the reservation app.

    At Blue Hill, Reserve worked with Mr. Barber to tailor its product to his needs. And that, Mr. Barber said, is why a monolithic reservation titan like OpenTable may be a thing of the past.

    “Trying to build ubiquitous software that will meet all the needs of high-, middle- and low-priced restaurants and make consumers happy, that’s a nightmare,” he said. “Having a baseline product that comes close to what OpenTable does and then allows some customization, that’s what the restaurant business wants — and then customers will really start to see the benefit of these things.”


    In 1999, the property at 556 S Plain Road was revived as the Arethusa Dairy Farm. The Farm is now home to approx. 350 dairy cows, including some Grand Champion Show Cows. The milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cheese from these cows is on showcase at Arethusa al tavolo Restaurant. The restaurant prides itself on exclusively using the farm’s dairy products and for procuring only the finest products for its daily menu.

    Arethusa al tavolo opened its doors in June 2013, and has been a celebrated addition to the growing Northwestern Connecticut culinary scene. Located in what was the Village General store, it is situated next to the Arethusa Dairy store, formally the Bantam Firehouse. al tavolo has become a destination for local diners and visitors who have a fond admiration for the finest Litchfield county has to offer.

    Chef Dan Magill anticipates and welcomes your visit to our vibrant establishment of fine cuisine and refined service.


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    Bharara was born in 1968 in Firozpur, Punjab, India, to a Sikh father and Hindu mother. [5] His parents immigrated to the United States in 1970, and Bharara became a U.S. citizen at age 12. He grew up in Eatontown in suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey [6] and attended Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1986. [7] [8]

    He received a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1990. He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review. [5]

    In 1993, Bharara joined the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a litigation associate. In 1996, Bharara joined the firm of Shereff, Friedman, Hoffman & Goodman, where he did white-collar defense work. [9] He was an assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan for five years, from 2000 to 2005, bringing criminal cases against the bosses of the Gambino crime family, Colombo crime family and Asian gangs in New York City. [10] [11] [12] Bharara served as the chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer and played a leading role in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary investigation into the firings of United States attorneys. [10]

    Bharara was nominated to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was sworn into the position on August 13, 2009. [13] In September 2014, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to step down, Bharara was speculated as being a potential candidate as the next United States Attorney General. [14] [15]

    International investigations Edit

    Bharara's office sent out agents to more than 25 countries to investigate suspects of arms and narcotics trafficking and terrorists, and bring them to Manhattan to face charges. One case involved Viktor Bout, an arms trafficker, who lived in Moscow and had a deal involving selling arms to Colombian terrorists. Bharara argued that this aggressive approach is necessary in post 9/11 era. Defense lawyers criticized the stings, calling Bharara's office "the Southern District of the World." They also argued that American citizens would not appreciate other countries' treating them in these ways. Countries have not always rushed to cooperate, according to a review of secret State Department cables released by WikiLeaks. [16]

    On April 13, 2013, Bharara was on a list released by the Russian Federation of Americans banned from entering the country over their alleged human rights violations. The list was a direct response to the so-called Magnitsky list revealed by the United States the day before. [ citation needed ]

    Actions against financial crime Edit

    Insider trading Edit

    In 2012, Bharara was featured on a cover of Time magazine entitled "This Man is Busting Wall Street" for his office's prosecutions of insider trading and other financial fraud on Wall Street. [17] From 2009 to 2012 (and ongoing), Bharara's office oversaw the Galleon Group insider trading investigation against Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta, Anil Kumar and more than 60 others. Rajaratnam was convicted at trial on 14 counts related to insider trading. [18] Bharara is said to have "reaffirmed his office’s leading role in pursuing corporate crime with this landmark insider trading case, which relied on aggressive prosecutorial methods and unprecedented tactics." [19]

    In 2011 when hedge fund portfolio manager Chip Skowron pleaded guilty to insider trading, Bharara said: "Chip Skowron is the latest example of a portfolio manager willing to pay for proprietary, non-public information that gave him an illegal trading edge over the average investor. The integrity of our market is damaged by people who engage in insider trading. " [20] Skowron was sent to prison for five years. [20] [21] Bharara has often spoken publicly [22] and written an op-ed about the culture surrounding corporate crime and its effect on market confidence and business risk. [23]

    After 85 straight convictions for insider-trading cases, he finally lost one on July 17, 2014, when a jury acquitted Rajaratnam's younger brother, Rengan, of such charges. [24]

    On October 22, 2015, Bharara dropped seven insider-trading cases two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to a review a lower court decision that would make it harder to pursue wrongful-trading cases. The conviction of Michael S. Steinberg was dropped Steinberg was the highest-ranking officer of SAC Capital Advisors who had previously been convicted of insider trading. [25]

    In 2013, Bharara announced criminal and civil charges against one of the largest and most successful hedge-fund firms in the United States, SAC Capital Advisors LP, and its founder Steven A. Cohen. [26] [27] At USD$1.8 billion, it was the largest settlement ever for insider trading, and the firm also agreed to close down. [28] [29]

    Citibank Edit

    Citibank was charged numerous times by Bharara's office and other federal prosecutors. In 2012, the bank reached a settlement with Bharara's office to pay $158 million for misleading the government into insuring risky loans. [30] Bharara also made a criminal inquiry into Citibank's Mexican unit. [31] In 2014, Citi settled with federal prosecutors for $7 billion for ignoring warnings on risky loans. [32]

    JPMorgan Chase Edit

    Almost as soon as he took office, Bharara began investigating the role of Bernie Madoff's primary banker, JPMorgan Chase, in the fraud. [33] Eventually Bharara and JPMorgan reached a deferred prosecution agreement that called for JPMorgan to forfeit $1.7 billion, the largest forfeiture ever demanded from a bank in American history—to settle charges that it and its predecessors violated the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to alert authorities about Madoff's actions. [34] [35] [36] [37]

    His office also handled the criminal prosecutions of several employees at Madoff’s firm and their associates, who were convicted by a jury on March 24, 2014. [38]

    Bank of America Edit

    In 2012, federal prosecutors under Bharara sued Bank of America for $1 billion, accusing the bank of carrying out a mortgage scheme that defrauded the government during the depths of the financial crisis. [39] In 2013, the jury found Bank of America liable for selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac thousands of defective loans in the first mortgage-fraud case brought by the U.S. government to go to trial. [40] The civil verdict also found the bank’s Countrywide Financial unit and former Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable. [41] However, in 2016 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the finding of fact by the jury that low-quality mortgages were supplied by Countrywide to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac supported only "intentional breach of contract," not fraud. The action, for civil fraud, relied on provisions of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. The decision turned on lack of intent to defraud at the time the contract to supply mortgages was made. [42]

    Russian money laundering fraud Edit

    In 2013, Bharara began investigating a money laundering fraud scheme in New York City operated by a Russian criminal organization. [43] The alleged fraud links a $230 million Russian tax refund fraud scheme from 2008 to eleven U.S. real estate corporations. [44] The underlying tax refund fraud was first discovered by whistleblower and Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested under tax evasion charges, and within a year he was found dead in his prison cell—a suspicious circumstance. [45] Bharara and his office stated that some of the illicit proceeds were laundered in the U.S. by purchasing luxury Manhattan and Brooklyn real estate, including a 35-story block that has a pool, roof terrace, Turkish bath and indoor golf course. One of the companies named in the complaint, Prevezon, at the time had assets that included four condo units in the Financial District, each valued close to or in excess of $1 million, a $4.4-million condo at 250 East 49th Street in Turtle Bay, and an unknown amount of funds on deposit in eight separate Bank of America accounts in the name of different limited-liability companies registered in New York.

    In April 2013, Bharara gave the authorization to the FBI for the raid on Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov's apartment in Trump Tower. [46]

    In April 2013, the case was personal for Bharara after Russia included him on the list 18 U.S. individuals banned from entering Russia in retaliation to the Magnitsky act. [47]

    On September 10, 2013, with help from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Cyrus Vance Jr., the District Attorney for New York County, Bharara's office announced that they had filed a civil forfeiture complaint, freezing $24 million in assets. [48] If the court upholds the complaint, the government will seize the assets.

    Holocaust survivor fund fraud Edit

    During his first year in office, Bharara charged 17 managers and employees of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims for defrauding Germany $42.5 million by creating thousands of false benefit applications for people who did not suffer in the Holocaust. The fraud, which had been going on for 16 years, was related to the $400 million that Germany pays out each year to Holocaust survivors. [49] [50]

    Art fraud Edit

    During his time in office, Bharara oversaw multiple notable art-fraud cases including the $80-million Knoedler Gallery case, which was the largest art-fraud scheme in American history involving forged masterworks of artists Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and others. [51] Bharara brought charges in the $2.5-million case of John Re, a man from East Hampton, New York, who sold forged artwork by Jackson Pollock and others [52] and was sentenced to five years in federal prison. [53] Also Bharara charged Eric Spoutz, an American art dealer, with selling hundreds of fake paintings falsely attributed to American masters. Spoutz was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit the $1.45 million he made from the scheme and to pay $154,100 in restitution. [54]

    Toyota deferred prosecution Edit

    In March 2014, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged Toyota by information with one count of wire fraud for lying to consumers about two safety-related issues in the company’s cars, each of which caused unintended acceleration. Under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that Toyota entered into the same day the information was filed, Toyota agreed to pay a $1.2-billion financial penalty, the largest criminal penalty ever imposed on an auto manufacturer. The company also admitted the truth of a detailed statement of facts accompanying the DPA, and agreed to submit to a three-year monitorship. [55]

    Public corruption Edit

    Bharara has said that "there is no prosecutor’s office in the state that takes more seriously the responsibility to root out public corruption in Albany and anywhere else that we might find it, and I think our record speaks for itself." [56] During his tenure, Bharara has charged several current and former elected officials in public corruption cases, including Senator Vincent Leibell, Senator Hiram Monserrate, NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook, and Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi. [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] Bharara’s office uncovered an alleged corruption ring involving New York State Senator Carl Kruger. In April 2012, Kruger was sentenced to seven years in prison. [63] In February 2011, Bharara announced the indictment of five consultants working on New York City’s electronic payroll and timekeeping project, CityTime, for misappropriating more than $80 million from the project. The investigation has expanded with five additional defendants being charged, including a consultant who allegedly received more than $5 million in illegal kickbacks on the projects. [64]

    In early 2013, Bharara oversaw the conviction of New York City Police Department officer Gilberto Valle, who was part of an alleged plot to rape and then cook and eat (cannibalize) women. [65] Bharara and his team argued that Valle had done more than hypothesize, think, or speculate (in online networks where such fantasies are discussed), but had moved on from being a possible danger to others to the criminal planning phase and had even visited the street where one of the women lived, at the behest of another defendant. However, the defense and others who objected to the verdict argued that all he had done was fantasize, not plan, and that such thoughts or online posts, however twisted, were still protected. [65] The defense team (Robert Baum and Julia L. Gatto) [65] may ask the judge to set aside the verdict, or may appeal. If he does keep the felony conviction and is sentenced, Valle would automatically no longer serve in law enforcement. [65] [66]

    On April 2, 2013, Bharara unsealed federal corruption charges against New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and several other Republican party officials. The federal complaint alleged that Smith attempted to secure a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral election through bribery. [67]

    New York Moreland Commission Edit

    In 2014, Bharara's office began an inquiry into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to end the work of the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel. After a New York Times report documenting Cuomo's staff's involvement with the commission and subsequent statements by commissioners defending the Governor, Bharara warned of obstruction of justice and witness tampering. [68]

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Edit

    Bharara made national headlines after investigating 11-term Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver for taking millions of dollars in payoffs, leading to Silver's arrest in January 2015. [69] Silver was subsequently convicted on all counts, triggering his automatic expulsion from the Assembly. [70] [71] [72] Silver was replaced by the first African-American speaker Carl Heastie. [73] [74] During the Silver prosecution, Judge Valerie Caproni criticized Bharara's public statements, writing that "while castigating politicians in Albany for playing fast and loose with the ethical rules that govern their conduct, Bharara strayed so close to the edge of the rules governing his own conduct." [75] [76]

    Gang crimes and organized crime Edit

    From 2009 to 2014, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has convicted more than 1,000 of approximately 1,300 people charged in 52 large-scale takedowns of street drug and drug trafficking organizations. [77] On lowering violent crime rates, Bharara has said, "You can measure the number of people arrested and the number of shootings, but success is when you lift the sense of intimidation and fear." [77] Bharara also oversaw the largest criminal sweep of gangs in Newburgh, New York, working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies to bring charges against members of the Newburgh Bloods and Newburgh Latin Kings gangs, among others. [78] In 2010, Bharara oversaw the prosecution of eight longshoremen on charges of participation in a multimillion-dollar cocaine trafficking enterprise along the Waterfront, operated by a Panamanian drug organization. [79] [80]

    In January 2011, Bharara's office participated in a multi-state organized crime takedown, charging 26 members of the Gambino crime family with racketeering and murder, as well as narcotics and firearms charges. [81] This action was part of a coordinated effort that also involved arrests in Brooklyn Newark, New Jersey, and Providence, Rhode Island according to the FBI, this was the largest single-day operation against the Mafia in U.S. history. [82] In August 2016, Bharara's office charged 46 leaders, members, and associates of La Cosa Nostra—including four out of the Five Families (Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, and Bonanno)—in an extensive racketeering conspiracy. [83]

    At a news conference on September 7, 2016 following the arrests of Shimen Liebowitz and Aharon Goldberg, 2 rabbis implicated in the Kiryas Joel murder conspiracy, Bharara called it a "chilling plot," wherein the plotters "met repeatedly to plan the kidnapping and to pay more than $55,000 to an individual they believed would carry it out." [84] [85] The rabbis were convicted and sentenced to prison in 2017. [86]

    Terrorism prosecutions Edit

    Under Bharara, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York "won a string of major terrorism trials." [87] Bharara was an advocate of trying terrorists in civilian federal courts rather than in the military commissions at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp he contrasted his office's record of successfully convicting terrorists with the lengthy, secretive, and inefficient Guantanamo practice. [87] In a 2014 interview, Bharara said the historical record would show that "greater transparency and openness and legitimacy" leads to "more serious and appropriate punishment." [87] Citing his success in terrorism trials, Bharara stated: "These trials have been difficult, but they have been fair and open and prompt. in an American civilian courtroom, the American people and all the victims of terrorism can be vindicated without sacrificing our principles." [88]

    Some of the high-profile terrorist figures convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment during Bharara's term include Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law [89] Khalid al-Fawwaz and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Osama bin Laden aides who plotted the 1998 United States embassy bombings that killed 224 people [90] [91] [92] Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, a cleric who masterminded the 1998 kidnappings of 16 American, British and Australian tourists in Yemen [88] and Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber. [93] Bharara also won a conviction and 25-year sentence for international arms smuggler Viktor Bout. [93]

    Cybercrime Edit

    In June 2012, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Bharara about the threat posed to private industry by cybercrime and encouraged corporate leaders to take preventive measures and create contingency plans. [94]

    Bharara's tenure saw a number of notable prosecutions for computer hacking:

    • Bharara's office worked with Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu"), a computer hacker who later became a federal informant. Because Monsegur's cooperation "helped the authorities infiltrate the shadowy world of computer hacking and disrupt at least 300 cyberattacks on targets that included the United States military," Bharara's office recommended a greatly reduced sentence to the judge, and in 2014 Monsegur was freed with time served. [95]
    • In May 2014, Bharara's office was part of an international crackdown, led by the FBI and authorities in 19 countries, on the "Blackshades" creepware hacking, in which hackers illicitly access users' systems remotely to steal information. [96]
    • In November 2015, Bharara's office charged three Israeli men in a 23-count indictment that alleged that they ran an extensive computer hacking and fraud scheme that targeted JPMorgan Chase, The Wall Street Journal, and ten other companies. According to prosecutors, the operation generated "hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profit" and exposed the personal information of more than 100 million people. [97]
    • In May 2016, Bharara's office secured a guilty plea from Alonzo Knowles, a Bahamian man who had hacked into the email accounts of celebrities and athletes in order to steal unreleased movie and television scripts, unreleased music, "nude and intimate images and videos," financial documents, and other personal information. Knowles was sentenced to five years in prison. [98]
    • In November 2016, Bharara's office filed charges against a Phoenix, Arizona man, Jonathan Powell, for hacking into thousands of email accounts at Pace University and another university and mining those accounts for users' confidential information. [99]
    • In December 2016, Bharara's office charged three Chinese citizens with hacking into the system of New York law firms advising on mergers and acquisitions, and making more than $4 million by trading on information they gained. [100]
    • Also in December 2016, Bharara's office charged an executive of the Pakistani-based company Axact with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection. Prosecutors say that the company carried out a $140 million diploma mill that defrauded thousands of consumers across the world. [101]

    Bharara moved to shut down several of the world's largest Internet poker companies. [102] He prosecuted several payment processors for Internet poker companies, securing guilty pleas for money laundering. [103] [104] In April 2011, Bharara charged 11 founding members of internet gambling companies and their associates involved with pay processing with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The case is United States v. Scheinberg. [105]

    Devyani Khobragade incident Edit

    Bharara and his office came to the limelight again in December 2013 with the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of India in New York, who was accused by prosecutors of submitting false work visa documents for her housekeeper and paying the housekeeper "far less than the minimum legal wage." [106] The ensuing incident caused protests from the Indian government and a rift in India–United States relations Indians expressed outrage that Khobragade was strip-searched (a routine practice for all U.S. Marshals Service arrestees) and held in the general inmate population. [106] The Indian government retaliated for what it viewed as the mistreatment of its consular official by revoking the ID cards and other privileges of U.S. consular personnel and their families in India and removing security barriers in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. [107]

    Khobragade was subject to prosecution at the time of her arrest because she had only consular immunity (which gives one immunity from prosecution only for acts committed in connection with official duties) and not the more extensive diplomatic immunity. [106] [108] After her arrest, the Indian government moved Khobragade to the Indian's mission to the United Nations, upgrading her status and conferring diplomatic immunity on her as a result, the federal indictment against Khobragade was dismissed in March 2014, although the door was left open to refiling of charges. [109] A new indictment was filed against Khobragade, but by that point she had left the country. [110]

    Speaking at Harvard Law School during its 2014 Class Day ceremony, Bharara said that it was the U.S. Department of State, rather than his office, which had initiated and investigated proceedings against Khobragade and who asked his office to prosecute. [111] [112] [113]

    Reason magazine subpoena Edit

    During Bharara's term, the U.S. Attorney's Office investigated six Internet comments made on the website of Reason magazine in which anonymous readers made comments about U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York like "Its [sic] judges like these that should be taken out back and shot" and "Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly." (The comments were made under an article in the magazine of Forrest's sentencing of Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht to life in prison without parole.) In June 2015, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to the libertarian magazine, demanding that it provide identifying information for the commenters. [114] [115] Following the issuance of the subpoena, federal prosecutors applied for an order from a U.S. magistrate judge forbidding the magazine from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to the commenters. [115]

    The subpoena became public after being obtained by Popehat's Ken White. [114] The nondisclosure order caused controversy, with critics saying that it infringed the constitutional right to free speech [116] and questioning whether the comments were actually serious threats or merely hyperbolic "trolling." [117] Federal prosecutors dropped the matter as moot. [116] Reason magazine editors Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie characterized the subpoena and nondisclosure order as "suppressing the speech of journalistic outlets known to be critical of government overreach." [115]

    Following the 2016 election, Bharara met with then-president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in November 2016. [118] Bharara said that Trump asked him to remain as U.S. Attorney, and he agreed to stay on. [119] [120]

    On March 10, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all 46 remaining United States Attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama administration, including Bharara, to submit letters of resignation. [121] Bharara declined to resign and was fired the next day. [122] [123] In a statement, Bharara said that serving as U.S. Attorney was "the greatest honor of my professional life" and that "one hallmark of justice is absolute independence and that was my touchstone every day that I served." He was succeeded by his deputy, Joon Kim, as acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. [122] [123]

    There were expressions of dismay over the firing from Howard Dean, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren to New York State Republican Assemblymen Steve McLaughlin and Brian Kolb, the Assembly Minority Leader. [124]

    It has been reported that in spring 2017, Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz told associates that he had been personally responsible for getting Bharara fired, saying he had warned Trump, "This guy is going to get you." [125] Bharara said that he was dismissed 22 hours after refusing to take a phone call from Trump. [126]

    On April 1, 2017, Bharara joined New York University School of Law as a distinguished scholar in residence. [127] In September 2017 he started a weekly podcast called "Stay Tuned with Preet", which features long-form interviews with prominent guests. [128] In 2018, Bharara started a second podcast with former New Jersey Attorney General and fellow law professor Anne Milgram, "Cafe Insider", which also provides legal commentary on the latest news. [129]

    The Showtime television series Billions gives a fictional portrayal of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York's prosecution of financial crimes. [130] The series is loosely based on the investigation of hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital by Bharara's office. [131] [132] The show's fictional SDNY U.S. Attorney Charles "Chuck" Rhoades Jr., played by Paul Giamatti, was partly inspired by Bharara. [131] [133]

    Bharara is married to Dalya Bharara, a non-practicing lawyer. They live in Scarsdale, New York with their three children. [134] In interviews, Bharara "has reflected on his family's diverse religious heritage: Sikh (his father), Hindu (his mother), Muslim (his wife's father) and Jewish (his wife's grandmother)." [135]

    Bharara became a naturalized United States citizen in 1980. [136] Bharara is a registered Democrat but "not considered a strong partisan." [135] His nomination to the U.S. Attorney's post in 2009 was welcomed across the political spectrum as Bharara was regarded as an "apolitical and fair-minded" figure. [136]

    Bharara's younger brother Vinit "Vinnie" Bharara, also a graduate of Columbia Law School, is an entrepreneur. Vinnie Bharara and Marc Lore co-founded Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com and Soap.com, which they sold in 2010 to Amazon.com for $540 million. [137] [138]

    Bharara traces his desire to become a lawyer back to the seventh grade, which was when he read the play Inherit the Wind. [139]

    In 2012, Bharara was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World," and by India Abroad as its 2011 Person of the Year. [140] [141] [142] [143]

    Bharara is a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan. [144] Springsteen shouted, "This is for Preet Bharara!" before launching into his song "Death to My Hometown" at an October 2012 concert in Hartford, Connecticut. [145]

    In 2013, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Fordham Law School in New York and received an honorary Doctor of Laws. [146] Later that week, Bharara delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Columbia Law School, during his 20th reunion year. [147] In 2014, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law also in New York and spoke at Harvard Law School's Class Day Ceremony. [148] In 2018, Bharara delivered the commencement address at St. John's University School of Law in New York.

    Bharara was included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine ' s 2012 "50 Most Influential" list as well as Vanity Fair ' s 2012 and 2013 annual "New Establishment" lists. [149] [150] [151]


    Top U.S. commander wants more aggressive Afghan push this year

    1 of 3 Security forces inspect the site of a bombing in Jalalabad province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. Officials say the attack targeted the funeral of a local official, killing at least 15 people. Mohammad Anwar Danishyar/STR Show More Show Less

    2 of 3 FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2016, file photo, U.S. Central Command Command Commander, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, speaks to reporters at the Pentagon. Votel wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan's winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It's all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) Manuel Balce Ceneta/STF Show More Show Less

    WASHINGTON - The top American commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan's winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It's all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.

    Gen. Joseph Votel of U.S. Central Command said an influx of new American trainers can help escalate the fight. They'll be operating with Afghan units, closer to the front lines and at greater risk, but Votel said U.S. commanders will ensure American and allied forces have adequate protection.

    The goal is to get the Afghan military moving on its military campaign sooner, rather than later.

    The United States wants the "focus on offensive operations, and we'll look for a major effort to gain the initiative very quickly as we enter into the fighting season," Votel said.

    Afghan forces must "keep the pressure on all the time and work to gain the upper hand as quickly as we can. So that as we get into this next fighting season we can build on the initiative," he said.

    The Trump administration's Afghanistan strategy gives the U.S. military greater authority to launch offensive attacks against a resilient Taliban and an emerging Islamic State affiliate. The plan, announced in August, was designed to reverse a stalemate in America's longest war. It specifically eliminates the Obama administration's scheduled plan to withdraw U.S. forces, but includes no dramatic changes in an approach that has failed to stabilize the country or snuff out extremist groups operating from Afghan territory.

    As 2018 begins, Afghanistan appears to be high on President Donald Trump's agenda. On New Year's Day, he slammed Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan in a tweet for "lies & deceit," accusing the country of playing U.S. leaders for "fools" by not crushing militants in its territory. A major focus of Trump's Afghanistan strategy is to persuade Pakistan to eliminate havens for the Taliban and other fighters.

    Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador and Islamic groups held rallies in major Pakistani cities in response.

    "Pakistan has played a double game for years," Nikki Haley, Trump's U.N. envoy, said Tuesday, explaining that Washington was withholding $255 million in aid to Islamabad. "They work with us at times and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable."

    On the Afghan side of the border, Washington is trying to build a tougher national military.

    Votel said as the coalition builds up the Afghan Air Force and trains more security forces, the Afghans will become better fighters. "By the time they get to the next fight," he said, "they will be able to really present a significant offensive capability."

    But it's hardly the first time the American military has vowed to shape up the U.S.-backed army into a force that can defeat the Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIS and others. Nor does Trump's approach represent the first time a frustrated president has pumped troops into the country to turn the situation around. There are now as many as 16,000 U.S. forces in the country - roughly double what Trump inherited - and a special training unit is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan early this year.

    When then-President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he authorized a surge of U.S. forces to Afghanistan that took the total there to about 100,000. The goal was to tamp down a resurgent Taliban and train and expand Afghan security forces. The plan centered on forcing the Taliban to the peace table and ending the war by the time Obama left office.

    The plan never worked, despite the mission meeting several celebrated benchmarks: Obama ended combat operations in 2014, curtailed offensive strikes and set deadlines for a full U.S. troop withdrawal. And as the U.S. and NATO forces pulled back, the Taliban stepped up attacks and regained ground, while an ISIS faction carved out its own foothold. Obama ended his presidency leaving more than 8,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

    Seeking peace negotiations

    Beyond boosting troop numbers, Trump has granted his generals' wishes for fewer combat restrictions, greater authority for commanders and no withdrawal deadline. Next year will be the first test of the policy. The Taliban currently controls as much as half of the country.

    James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral who served as the top U.S. commander for NATO from 2009 until 2013, said the ultimate goal in Afghanistan remains the same: pushing the Taliban into seeking peace negotiations.

    "There is a slightly better than even chance that there are some new factors which move us toward the possibility of a successful outcome," said Stavridis, now dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Those changes, he said, include the elimination of troop withdrawal timelines and Taliban fatigue.

    "I think they're tired, too. This is also a 17-year war for them," Stavridis said, but suggested any settlement will require compromise. "Is this going to be a sweeping victory? No. But I think the odds are much higher of getting them to the negotiating table."

    But as winter arrives, Votel said the Afghan army must stay on the offense.

    "We frequently talk about these fighting seasons, but as you know the fighting never actually ends," Votel said.


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    Savor St. Louis

    Once the fourth-largest city in the U.S. and a major port on the Mississippi River, St. Louis has long been a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, and that stands true today. Thanks to the city&rsquos incredibly diverse population, you can find a New Mexican brunch spot, an Israeli restaurant in an old gas station, an award-winning fine-dining establishment and much more. Whatever you&rsquore looking for, chances are that it&rsquos somewhere to be found in St. Louis (and this is especially true if you&rsquore into beer and meat). Check out this city guide for the best of what to eat and drink in this seriously underrated food city.

    Contemporary Asian: Indo

    Indo combines contemporary Thai and Japanese cuisine at a mind-blowing level. The signature Isaan Hamachi is a prime example of this &mdash raw Hamachi topped with a Thai kosho, candied garlic, coconut naam pla, shallots, and chili oil. The result is a dish unlike anything you&rsquove had before. The fall-off-the-bone tender fried lamb ribs with a fish sauce caramel are a wonderful, sticky masterpiece you won&rsquot want to share the short rib curry with labneh and roti. Your best bet is to go for the chef&rsquos omakase tasting menu at the bar&mdashyou never know what you&rsquore going to get, but you know it&rsquos going to be incredible.

    Brunch: Southwest Diner

    Imagine that a diner from New Mexico circa 1955 was magically transported to current-day St. Louis and you have Southwest Diner. It feels like a time warp in the best way possible. The interior has a teal, red and blue motif, decorated with all sorts of cacti and New Mexican flair. It&rsquos the food that keeps people lining up day after day. In fact, the lines can be so long that the restaurant purchased a school bus that eager diners wait in (on some days there&rsquos a cocktail bar in it!). It&rsquos hard to go wrong ordering anything on the menu, but classics include Jonathan&rsquos Famous Fiery Scramble, the red chile-braised Carne Adovada, and the St. Louis-meets-New Mexico Southwest Slinger: two burger patties, home fries and cheese, topped with two eggs and red or green enchilada sauce. Don&rsquot expect to be doing anything productive after breakfast here.

    BBQ: Salt + Smoke

    Picking your favorite barbecue in St. Louis is like trying to pick a favorite child: It&rsquos (nearly) impossible. Salt + Smoke is a relative newcomer to the scene, but it&rsquos managed to distinguish itself from the rest by crafting a menu that has something for everyone. The team behind the restaurant come from the fine-dining side of the restaurant world, and they&rsquove used that to their advantage. Classic barbecue platters are available, but so are more innovative dishes like the brisket sandwich with burnt-end mayo and tobacco onions, or the fried housemade pickles with flax seed mayo. Salt + Smoke&rsquos brisket may very well be the best in town, and the pro move is to ask for the fatty cut &mdash or, even better, burnt ends if they have them.

    Burger: Mac's Local Eats

    Chris McKenzie has long been known in the St. Louis food community for his dedication to pushing people to eat locally, thanks to his meat shares and CSAs. When he announced he would be opening a burger joint inside a local bar, Tamm Avenue Grill, diners didn&rsquot know what to expect &mdash but the industry pros did. The result, Mac's Local Eats, is quite likely the best burger in all of St. Louis. McKenzie&rsquos burger has not only all the marks of the best diner burgers, like the thin patty being cooked until ultra-crispy, but also a certain je ne sais quoi that comes from dry-aging. That&rsquos right, this is a dry-aged diner burger, made from the best cuts of the animal. Simply put, it&rsquos the best diner burger ever made.

    Icon: Sidney Street Café

    Looking to impress a visitor? Sidney Street Café, winner of 2017&rsquos Best Chef: Midwest James Beard Award, is the place you should go. Chef/owner Kevin Nashan and his team have been pushing the boundaries of contemporary American cuisine for over a decade. Try the smoked sweetbreads with pear chutney, Indian fry bread and herb salad to start, followed by the rabbit porchetta with pickled ramp jus, then the deconstructed carrot cake to finish. If you&rsquove never had cheesecake puree with carrot-passionfruit sorbet, you haven&rsquot really lived.

    Carb Heaven: Union Loafers

    Union Loafers is a St. Louis staple in the making. Open for just over two years, this place has made a name for itself as not only the best bread bakery in town, by far, but also one of the finest sandwich shops west of the Mississippi and the home of the kings of pizza. If gluten is involved, Loafers is where you want to be. The bread &mdash sought after by diners and by St. Louis&rsquo best restaurants alike &mdash is pure perfection. Go for a loaf of their famous Light & Mild, their enormous Bavarian pretzel or, if you&rsquore looking for something more casual, their cheesy bread. The 18-inch New York-style pizzas are what will change your life, though. The surprise favorite is the spinach (that&rsquos healthy, right?), a hearty pie topped with bacon lardons, garlic and lemon. Don&rsquot forget to order extra buttermilk sauce to dip the crust in.

    Modern Italian: Sardella

    Besides being arguably the most beautiful restaurant in the city, Sardella also has one of the most interesting menus, with most dishes taking inspiration from Italy and giving them a twist. You need the smoked foie gras torchon with pepperoni spice in your life. If you&rsquore lucky, they&rsquoll have the cresc&rsquotajat available: a polenta-infused housemade pasta with pesto Genovese, prosciutto crumble, and roasted spring onion. Add to that a fantastic bar program and one of the best brunches in St. Louis (hello, eggs benedict raviolo!), and you have a can&rsquot-miss restaurant right in the center of town.

    Thai: Fork & Stix

    Before 2012, the idea of good Thai food in St. Louis was limited to pad thai with some chicken satay on the side. Then came Fork & Stix, a small restaurant specializing in the cuisine of northern Thailand, and everything changed. Diners were introduced to the likes of sai oua, a pork sausage packed with Thai herbs, served with sticky rice and spicy naam prik nuum. Hung lay curry, filled with sweet and gingery braised pork belly and shoulder, became a wintertime favorite. But no dish has taken St. Louis quite like Chiang Mai&rsquos signature dish, khao soi. This egg noodle curry soup is almost indescribable &mdash think about the best curry you&rsquove had, but better. That&rsquos what it is. On any given day, you&rsquoll find the restaurant packed with everyone from college students to award-winning chefs, for good reason.

    Cocktail Bar: Planter's House

    Ted Kilgore is St. Louis&rsquo best-kept secret. He is unarguably the person who brought the craft cocktail movement to St. Louis over a decade ago, and he&rsquos shown no signs of slowing down. From the day that Planter&rsquos House opened, it has been the city&rsquos top cocktail bar, with a mix of classics and inventive creations. It even has a menu of its own "new classics," drinks that have been so popular that there&rsquos no reason for them to go away. It does have a full food menu, as well, to help soak up some of what you&rsquore throwing down. Insider&rsquos tip: The main bar area is great, but to truly experience Planter&rsquos House, slip upstairs to the intimate, 1950s-style Bullock Room.

    French: Brasserie

    French fare has the reputation for being stuffy and heavy, but that&rsquos not the case at Brasserie. The food pays homage to, well, the French brasserie &mdash a relaxed neighborhood restaurant where one can have a simple meal with friends and family. Whether you decide to take a seat at the bar and enjoy a cocktail with some gougeres and a Brasserie Burger or head into the main dining room for a romantic dinner, you&rsquoll feel right at home. Larger plates include French classics like coq au vin, steak frites and possibly the best roasted chicken you&rsquoll ever have, served over bread and mushrooms, which are perfect for soaking up the buttery jus. Make sure to save room for the decadent desserts, like the profiteroles du jour or the classic floating island.

    Late-Night Spot: Taste Bar

    How lucky is St. Louis to have one of its best restaurants and cocktail bars also be the place to go for a late-night rendezvous? Taste feels like an old-school speakeasy, complete with Edison bulbs, marble counters and dark wood, but the food and drinks it&rsquos serving up are anything but old-school. The cocktail menu, which changes seasonally, is eight pages long, housing everything from the classics to punch bowls to a section simply called "resurrection." The food menu changes daily, offering somewhere around 15 small plates and snacks, two larger entrees and three desserts. The confit chicken wings drizzled with soy caramel shouldn&rsquot be missed, nor should the seasonal bruschetta option. It&rsquos a 1 a.m. home run.

    Expand Your Mind: Savage

    Savage is an experience different from any other restaurant in St. Louis. The intimate 18-seat restaurant forms a "U" around chef/owner Logan Ely, and with a spotlight over the kitchen island, it&rsquos almost as much of a show as it is a meal. The restaurant (which, by the way, was designed and built by Ely) offers very reasonably priced six and twelve course tasting menus, but don&rsquot worry about being stuck in a 3 hour, stuffy dinner. The feeling is casual, like you just happen to be eating in Ely&rsquos house and he&rsquos making a wildly inventive hyper-seasonal 12-course meal. If you&rsquore looking for a restaurant pushing boundaries, this is it.

    Tasting Menu: Vicia

    When Blue Hill at Stone Barns chef Michael Gallina announced he was leaving New York to return to St. Louis, his hometown went wild. A chef of that caliber opening a new restaurant in town sent the hype train into overdrive, and he did not disappoint &mdash Vicia opened and went straight into the upper echelon of St. Louis dining. Lunch there is always a great decision, but it&rsquos the dinner service tasting menu that takes things to the next level. Expect over 15 dishes, ranging from incredible local pork to vegetable-forward fare like you&rsquove never had before, all paired with wine or beverages from Vicia&rsquos botanical bar program. Try getting there a little early so you can enjoy a drink on their enclosed patio while you watch the chefs cook in the restaurant&rsquos enormous, custom-made hearth.

    Seafood: Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

    Eating seafood in a landlocked Midwestern state isn&rsquot always the smartest idea, but at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., you&rsquore in good hands. This is the sister restaurant to the James Beard Award-winning Sidney Street Cafe, after all. With fresh catches flown in daily, Peacemaker serves up a menu of coastal classics including lobster rolls, crab boils and New Orleans-style po&rsquo boys. There&rsquos no better place in town for oysters, both in quality and variety, and the fish crudo of the day will never let you down. Combine all that with housemade soft serve and boozy slushies and you&rsquove got the perfect spot to enjoy a casual night out &mdash or lunch, if you&rsquore feeling wild.

    Taiwanese: Tai Ke

    The University City neighborhood in St. Louis has long been the city&rsquos unofficial Chinatown, but most restaurants in the area have avoided pushing any boundaries &mdash that is, until Tai Ke arrived. Rather than focus on American-Chinese food like so many other restaurants, they stay true to their roots: classic dishes from Taiwan, including street snacks. There&rsquos nowhere else in town serving clay pots full of the fragrant Three Cup Chicken, a dish that&rsquos both familiar and completely foreign. The gua bao pork buns will make even the worst day better. The best snack of all, though? Taiwanese hot sausages set inside sticky-rice buns, drizzled with a house sauce and showered with scallions.

    Straight Outta the Balkans: Balkan Treat Box

    Did you know the largest Bosnian population outside of Europe is in St. Louis? Surprise! You could head to "Little Bosnia," better known as Bevo Mill, or you could track down the Balkan Treat Box food truck. Owners Loryn and Edo Nalic combine their Balkan background with their experience working at some of St. Louis&rsquo best restaurants to create unforgettable dishes. The flavor is unreal&mdashalmost all the dishes are cooked using the truck&rsquos built-in wood-fired grill and oven. Pillowy somun bread is baked fresh minced beef sausages called cevapi are grilled to order and served with a spicy red pepper relish. The real star, though, is the Turkish-inspired pide, a grilled flatbread stuffed with meat or cheese it&rsquos like the missing link between a pizza and a calzone.

    Cheap Eats: Carl's Drive In

    Since 1959, Carl&rsquos Drive-In has been the spot for a quick burger, fries and a tall, cold glass of root beer, and the best part is that prices haven&rsquot changed much since then! Seriously, where else can you get a triple cheeseburger for under $6? Granted, Carl&rsquos is home to the thinnest, crispiest patties in the world, but it&rsquos still quite the deal. Add to that a basket of onion rings for $1.75 and a 24-ounce mug of root beer for another $1.75 and you&rsquove got yourself a meal that will keep you full for a day. If your time in St. Louis is limited, just swing by for a single patty and small root beer (made in-house), then head on to your real lunch. You&rsquoll have room.

    Israeli: Olio

    It&rsquos hard not to feel cool inside Olio. Built inside a renovated 1930s gas station, this modern Israeli restaurant has both old-school charm and a contemporary edge, thanks to the design and decor. The food, too, alternates between modern and rustic &mdash you can get a bowl of hummus with pita bread made in-house, or you can be a little fancier and go for something like the smoked trout tartine. What makes the restaurant perfect is that it&rsquos great for any time of day, whether it&rsquos a quick lunch, happy hour and snacks, or a romantic dinner out. Seriously, Olio&rsquos bar program (especially the daily "spritz hour") is not to be missed.

    Parisian Pastries: La Patisserie Chouquette

    It only makes sense that city with French roots should have French pastry shops. The folks at La Patisserie Chouquette serve up a mix of French classics, like the pain au chocolat and canele, plus mountains of their own French-inspired creations. Their Darkness croissant, made with chocolate butter and chocolate dough, and filled with chocolate, is famous nationwide. Their macaron offerings range from the delicate Cream Earl Grey to wild flavors like Horchata Rum, Bey (Lemonade) and Funnel Cake. If you&rsquore looking for something more substantial, their custom cakes are literally edible art. You will almost certainly leave with more than you intended to buy, but hey, you only live once.

    Foodie Haven: Sidney Street Cafe

    Looking to impress a visiting foodie? Sidney Street Cafe, winner of 2017's Best Chef: Midwest James Beard Award, is the place you need to lock down a table at. Chef-Owner Kevin Nashan and his team have been pushing the boundaries of contemporary American cuisine for over a decade. The less adventurous can opt for a classic like the filet bearnaise stuffed with lobster or the steak encrusted in wasabi, but where's the fun in that? Start with the lightly grilled Gulf Coast shrimp served with tomato salad, sliced grapes, pickled onion and white gazpacho, follow it with the rabbit porchetta with mustard jus and then finish with the deconstructed carrot cake. If you've never had cheesecake puree with carrot-passionfruit sorbet, you haven't really lived.

    Casual-Chic: Louie

    Every once in a while, a restaurant comes along that is perfect. For St. Louis, that restaurant is Louie. The team behind it has created a space that is modern yet classic, inventive but traditional, formal and informal all at once. Stop by with friends for a pizza and beer or celebrate a special occasion with great wine and a multi-course feast. Louie believes that simplicity is key, but don&rsquot let the barebones menu trick you: the food here is incredible. The roast chicken is the best roast chicken you will have in your entire life. Seriously. Get the chicken. And the prosciutto. And some pasta.

    Bakery: Nathaniel Reid Bakery

    If St. Louis had a Happiness Index like Bhutan, it would have seen a massive increase in pure joy when Nathaniel Reid Bakery opened in 2016. It&rsquos a guarantee you will not leave with just one thing. The Kouign Amann, a traditional, buttery pastry from Brittany, will make you wonder why you&rsquove been eating normal croissants all these years. His sandwiches are addictive. But it&rsquos their entremets (a.k.a. fancy cakes) that will really wow you. They look as good as they taste, and that&rsquos saying something. The chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla creme bruleé Sambava is a classic, but if the pistachio and berry Jarmo is in the case, you are required to get it.

    Sandwiches: Gioia's

    For over a century, the staff at Gioia&rsquos has been slinging sandwiches in St. Louis&rsquo historic Italian neighborhood, The Hill. They&rsquore known for their signature hot salami, a terrine-like mix of pork shoulder and head, but their sandwich menu goes much deeper. Most options stick to the Italian genre, with things like coppa, meatballs and various salumi, but chicken, turkey and roast beef make appearances too. Order like a pro and go off the not-so-secret menu. You&rsquoll be thanking us when you&rsquore scarfing down your Hill Topper or Porknado 2.0. Most importantly, you can get any sandwich on garlic cheese bread &mdash which you obviously should do.

    Meat and Three: Grace

    St. Louis isn&rsquot part of the South, but it&rsquos close enough. Grace pairs the simplicity of a "meat and three" joint with the talents of James Beard Award-nominated chef Rick Lewis. That means you&rsquore not getting boring fried chicken and mac 'n' cheese that&rsquos been sitting in a pan all day you&rsquore getting the best fried chicken in St. Louis, made to order. Cornmeal fried catfish, St. Louis-style ribs, and a sweet-tea-brined turkey leg are some mains that are not to be missed, but good luck picking a side. Cracklin' cornbread or sweet-and-sour greens? Chicken livers or fried green tomatoes? Picking might feel impossible, but you really can&rsquot go wrong. Don&rsquot forget to save room for the banana pudding.


    Chef and owner Cathy Whims opened Nostrana in Portland's Buckman neighborhood in 2005, along with her partner David West as well as Mark and Deb Accuardi. [1] Whims and West purchased the Accuardis' portion of the business in 2008 after differences of opinion over levels of service. [2] Brian Murphy serves as executive chef. [3] [4]

    The menu features classic Italian cuisine such as pasta, pizzas, and salads. [5] [6] Entrées are seasonal, but Bistecca alla Fiorentina and fettuccine with tomato butter sauce inspired by Marcella Hazan (one of Whims' former teachers) are regular options. [7] [8] According to Thrillist, which dubbed the restaurant "Portland's capital of the Negroni", Nostrana started the costumed gala Negroni Social, which inspired Negroni Week. [9] [10]

    The restaurant's interior features vaulted ceilings and an iron chandelier. [11] According to Eater Portland, the restaurant's atmosphere "straddles that line between 'casual-ish' and upscale". [12] As of 2016 [update] , a sommelier is on the floor nightly. [13] [14]

    In 2017, the restaurant was featured on the "Italian Favorites" episode of Iron Chef Eats, a companion series to the Food Network's Iron Chef Gauntlet. [15] [16]

    Nostrana was included in The Oregonian 's 2012 overview of the city's best pizza and 2014 list of Portland's ten best restaurants bars. [17] [18] Nostrana ranked number 6 in the paper's 2015 list of Portland's 101 best restaurants, [19] and number 3 on the same list in 2016. [20] In 2017, The Oregonian 's Michael Russell wrote: "On a perfect night here, the famous radicchio salad, the al dente pastas draped in tomato-butter sauce or sage butter and the attentive service can make you think you're eating at the best restaurant in Portland. Even when the kitchen isn't firing on all cylinders, Nostrana remains the neighborhood Italian joint of your dreams." [21]

    In 2005, Willamette Week contributor Roger Porter described Nostrana as "a rustic yet beautiful Italian restaurant with a kitchen that turns out some of the most honest, authentic food in the city". [1] The newspaper's Martin Cizmar wrote a review in 2016 called, "Nostrana Is What People Mean When They Ask for 'A Nice Italian Place with Good Wine ' ", in which he described Nostrana as "a classic" restaurant with "a steady, restrained fine-touching that delights traditionalists". [5] Nostrana was included in Willamette Week 's 2016 lists "My Oh My, Portland's 8 Best Pizza Pies" and "Our Favorite Italian Spots in Portland", [14] [22] as well as the 2017 list of best restaurants along southeast Portland's Belmont and Hawthorne districts. [23] Nostrana was also included in the paper's lists of the city's best happy hours. [24] [25] [26] [27]

    In her Insiders' Guide to Portland, Oregon books, Rachel Dresbeck called the Neapolitan pizzas and desserts "outstanding", and wrote, "The grilled and rotisserie meats are perfectly done, sharing touches of Tuscany while being, at the same time, all Oregon." [8] [28] Julian Smith of Frommer's gave Nostrana two out of three stars, and said the restaurant hosts "one of the east-side's best happy hours". [29] Sunset also recommended visiting for evening happy hour, available daily. [30] Layla Schlack of Wine Enthusiast Magazine called Nostrana a "Portland institution" with a predominantly Old World wine list. [31]

    Erin DeJesus included Nostrana in Eater Portland 's 2013 list of "The 12 Best Restaurants for Dining Solo in Portland", [32] and its 2014 list of "Essential 38 Portland Restaurants". [12] The website's Alex Frane included Nostrana in his 2018 list of Portland's "primo" Italian restaurants, in which he describes Nostrana as "lauded" and "legendary". [11] The restaurant was included in OpenTable's list of "The 100 Best Restaurants for Wine Lovers", according to data provided by more than twelve million verified reviews for more than 28,000 businesses in the U.S., collected between August 2017 and July 2018. [33] Nostrana ranked number 15 on The Daily Meal's 2019 list of "The 75 Most Romantic Restaurants in America". [34] Zagat gives the restaurant ratings of 4.5 for food, 4.3 for decor, and 4.4 for service, each on a scale of 5. [35]

    Nostrana's "sister" wine bar, Enoteca Nostrana, opened next door to the restaurant in 2018. [36] [37] The 1,500-square-foot (140 m 2 ), [38] 40-seat bar emphasizes European and natural wines and has a modern aesthetic compared to Nostrana's "rustic" atmosphere. [39] [40] Enoteca Nostrana's interior features Italian design and a two-story wine cellar made of glass and steel, capable of storing 3,000 bottles. [41] The bar's opening selection featured 130 wines. [42]

    Condé Nast Traveler 's Hannah Wallace described Enoteca Nostrana as "splashy", with a "short but fabulous" menu. She recommended select antipasti options and wrote, "Because of its stylish ambience, this restaurant feels like a quick jaunt to Europe." [43] Brooke Jackson-Glidden of Eater Portland called the bar "glammed-out" and "glitzy", [44] and noted the availability of pizzas from Nostrana during afternoon happy hour. [45] Enoteca Nostrana won in the design category in Eater Portland 's 2018 Eater Awards, which recognize the city's best new chefs and businesses in the restaurant industry. [46] In her review of Enoteca Nostrana, Wine & Spirits ' Kerry Newberry wrote, "the space evokes Milan more than Portland, with bold geometric flair [and] mod barstools shaped like Champagne corks". [42]


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