Can Almond Break the Curse of Rocco Dispirito?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The exterior of Rocco's restaurant is shown July 25, 2003.

    As Almond, the well-regarded Bridgehampton bistro, opened a Manhattan outpost last week there were a few questions. First, will the menu carry the standbys of the namesake, or skew more towards the offerings of the trattoria Almondcello? The menu revealed when the restaurant opened its doors on 22nd Street showed mostly the former with a smattering of the latter. The Duck Confit, Foi Gras, and mussels all make the move to the 10001 zip code, but there's also Cavatelli and nods to NYC's fascination with gastro pub fare with dishes like Lamb Belly. Perhaps the most reassuring news is that Almond's heavenly hamburger has ridden in on the Jitney, too.

    The bigger question, though, still unanswered, is whether or not the Bridgehampton boys can break the curse of Rocco Dispirito that wafts through the cavern they picked for their Manhattan location. The spot once housed Rocco's, the big, bold flop Dispirito opened with Jeffery Chodorow, and the ill-fated subject the reality TV show The Restaurant. Next, Borough Food and Drink (BFD) moved into the space. This time Chodorow teamed with Zak Pelaccio for a five-borough-scavenging tour of a restaurant that never took off and lasted a little over a year. The location might have something to do with it: You better give people a good reason to trek over to that barren stretch between the Flat Iron and Gramercy.

    Almond, while a gem of a restaurant on the East End, faces a sea of like-minded Gallic gastronomies and might not be able to distinguish itself. Especially in that airplane hanger haunted by the ghost of Rocco's.