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Turning Tables: Top Restaurant Stories of 2017

From anticipated new openings to staff shuffles to closings, these chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs made the past year an exciting one in wine and food
Photo by: Courtesy of Related Oxford
New York's Hudson Yards project, including chef Costas Spiliadis' Estiatorio Milos, delivered the most-read Turning Tables of 2017.

Lexi Williams
Posted: January 4, 2018

With the nonstop shifts of the fast-paced restaurant industry, it can be difficult to keep track of the major openings, closings and developments that happen each year. And 2017 was no different: Turning Tables reported on more than a few impressive wine lists hitting the dining scene.

From the closure of San Francisco's RN74—which made way for an exciting Michael Mina collaboration with Food Network star Ayesha Curry—to the slew of new spots by culinary greats like Danny Meyer and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Wine Spectator is looking back on some of the most-read Turning Tables stories of 2017.

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1. Big-Shot Chefs Flock to New York's Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards, the ongoing redevelopment project in New York, was the talk of the town in 2017, especially when some of the restaurant industry's biggest names announced plans to open shop there. There will be more than 20 dining concepts at Hudson Yards, many from notable Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning chefs like Thomas Keller, José Andrés in partnership with Ferran and Albert Adrià, David Chang, Michael Lomonaco and Costas Spiliadis. Completion of the massive West Side development isn't slated until 2025, but many dining venues should be open by late 2018. Read more about this highly anticipated urban space.

2. Grand Award Winner RN74 to Close; Giada Goes Fast-Casual in Vegas

Katrine Naleid
Longtime sommelier Rajat Parr lived out his love for Burgundy at RN74.

San Francisco Wine Spectator Grand Award winner RN74, the celebrated wine-centric restaurant by Michael Mina, officially closed Oct. 7, 2017. Mina's new project with Food Network star Ayesha Curry, a barbecue restaurant called International Smoke, has since taken its place in the Millennium Tower.

Meanwhile, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis confirmed to Wine Spectator that she will be opening a second restaurant across the street from her Best of Award of Excellence winner, Giada, in Las Vegas. It has since been revealed that the new fast-casual Italian spot with wine on tap will be named Pronto. It is slated to open in Caesar's Palace early this year.

3. Napa Valley's Restaurant at Meadowood Opens Casual Spin-Off

Courtesy of the Charter Oak, Photography by Kelly Puleio
The Charter Oak puts a cozy, casual spin on Napa Valley institution Restaurant at Meadowood.

In June, chef Christopher Kostow and partner Nathaniel Dorn, of the Grand Award–winning Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif., opened the Charter Oak, a casual take on their acclaimed fine-dining restaurant. Months later, the California wildfires forced the restaurants to briefly close, but the Charter Oak was not damaged and reopened within days. Read about both restaurants in the Napa Travel Guide from our special Napa issue, and get more details on the local-driven wine list at the Charter Oak.

4. Prominent Young D.C. Somm to Debut Wine Bar

Marissa Bialecki
Brent Kroll's wine bar opened in summer 2017.

Sommelier Brent Kroll built his reputation at Washington, D.C., spots like Restaurant Award winner Proof and Iron Gate Restaurant. Almost a year ago, he announced plans to open his own wine bar; in June, he debuted Maxwell Park in the city's Shaw neighborhood. Wine Spectator followed up with Kroll to see how it panned out. "We have really been able to follow through on a lot of the ambitious ideas for the bar," he said via email. "We do funny monthly wine themes … We have five different temperature zones for our 50 wines by the glass." The full wine list, which offers 500 selections, includes many hard-to-find bottles. Sommeliers Niki Lang, formerly of Fiola Mare and Voltaggio Brothers Steak House, and Daniel Runnerstrom, who worked with Kroll at Iron Gate, are also partners at the newly minted Maxwell Park.

5. Charlie Palmer Steak Opens in Napa's New Archer Hotel

Andy Berry
The new Charlie Palmer Steak shapes its menu around the bounty of Napa Valley.

Napa's recently opened Archer Hotel is anchored by the fifth iteration of Charlie Palmer Steak, the chef's steak-house concept. Charlie Palmer Group food-and-beverage director Peter Triolo oversees the 400-selection wine list, half of which hails from Napa Valley. Find out more details about the beverage program.

6. Unveiling the Pool 2.0 in New York

Scott Frances
Four Seasons regulars can once again visit their beloved pool.

The sprawling, extravagant space formerly home to New York's Four Seasons restaurant is now a three-venue project spearheaded by partners Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick of Major Food Group. They opened the Grill, an homage to the classic 1950s New York steak house, in May, followed by seafood restaurant the Pool in mid-July, and a Japanese restaurant called the Lobster Club in October. Although the Grill is the pièce de résistance of the trio, the Pool also impressed with its 80-page wine list of blue-chip selections. Wine Spectator published a cover story on the dining destination in the Dec. 15, 2017, issue, and chef Carbone also made his New York Wine Experience debut in October at the Chefs' Challenge. Learn more about what's on the wine list at the Pool.

7. Danny Meyer's New Italian Trio Will Serve Wine, Roman Treats

Ellen Silverman
Danny Meyer's trips to Italy have been an inspiration for his restaurants.

As usual, Danny Meyer had a busy year. Last summer, the Union Square Hospitality Group CEO opened pizzeria Martina in New York's East Village with chef Nick Anderer, a veteran of the group, as well as Caffe Marchio, a stand-up coffee bar next to his Restaurant Award winner, Marta, in the Redbury Hotel. In October came Vini e Fritti, which serves fried Roman snacks with a bubbly-focused wine list, also in the Redbury. With around 50 sparkling wines, Vini e Fritti offers familiar Champagne producers such as Taittinger and Laurent-Perrier, as well as lesser-known selections of Italian bubbly. Catch up on these latest USHG openings.

8. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Big Hotel Openings

Billy Farrell
From left: Executive chef Steven Benjamin, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, executive pastry chef Deden Putra and chef de cuisine Richard Archuleta of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten also had an impressively prolific year, with new restaurants cropping up all over the world. First, there was the long-awaited debut of vegetarian eatery AbcV in New York, followed by Public Kitchen, in hotelier Ian Schrager's Public Hotel. Meanwhile in Brazil, the chef opened Tangará Jean-Georges in the Palácio Tangará hotel in São Paulo, staking a claim in the southern hemisphere for the first time in his career. A few months later, across the pond, he opened another eponymous restaurant in London's Connaught hotel.

Perhaps his biggest-ticket item in 2017 came with the June opening of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, when three Vongerichten-branded venues located in the hotel hit the L.A. dining scene, marking the chef's first venture in California. Along with a casual rooftop restaurant and a cocktail lounge, the hotel's centerpiece restaurant, Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, offers a 500-selection wine list.

9. Bobby Stuckey's Tavernetta Opens in Denver

Mike Thurk
The newly opened Tavernetta is a joint venture from partners Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Peter Hoglund.

Denver newcomer Tavernetta, which Turning Tables announced early last year, had been open only eight days when a kitchen fire broke out during dinner service in September. No one was hurt, but it did cause the new restaurant to close for repairs. Seven weeks after the blaze, Tavernetta reopened in its Union Station home. From the team behind Boulder, Colo., Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food and Wine, helmed by Bobby Stuckey, Tavernetta boasts a nearly all-Italian wine list with regions up and down the boot. The only non-Italian region on the list is Champagne. "Denver needs a great spot to drink Champagne," sommelier Carlin Karr told Wine Spectator.

10. Team Behind New York's Rebelle Opens Restaurant in Philadelphia

Evan Sung
Walnut Street Café has two dining rooms, a patio and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Schuylkill River.

Familiar names in New York's restaurant scene made their mark on Philadelphia in 2017. Led by Patrick Cappiello and Branden McRill, the team behind wine-lover favorites Rebelle and Pearl & Ash—now both closed—opened its first restaurant outside of Manhattan in June. Located in the FMC Tower, Walnut Street Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a 120-selection wine list with a hefty by-the-glass program. Additionally, every selection on the list is also offered by the half-bottle. "We want to prove that we're not trying to make this a New York restaurant; we want this to be a Philly restaurant," Cappiello told Wine Spectator when they opened.

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