January 5, 2004 | Ask Gael
Will Merry Prankster David Burke Ever Grow Up?

        His fans hope not. They’ll be oohing and giggling over designer dollhouse touches on the plates at davidburke & donatella: little silver dishes hiding sea-urchin panna cotta. A veal filet mignon, on the bone, he designed at his Bronx butcher’s. Glass-brick serving pieces, halved so that “cool” tuna rides above a still life of seaweed and crabs (Burke wanted them live, but partner Donatella Arpaia nixed it). It took less than an hour’s talk for this odd couple—the rough-cut Brooklyn boy who grew up in New Jersey and the ambitious but very properly dutiful Italian daughter—to decide that their visions meshed. Witness the salon elegance of mirror and blown glass with some silly bird paintings on walls the color of black-bean soup. And Burke is thrilled to be back at the range. Even a grouch will warm to luscious scallops disguised as eggs Benedict, marvelous mustard-crusted tuna, his familiar lobster “steak” with curried shoestrings and rich ribeye. His chocolate park bench is recycled here, too, along with marvelous chocolate praline torte, and a custom-made dollhouse stove piled with candy. À la carte, or $65 for the tasting.

133 East 61st Street 212 813 2121