StarChefs.com has never been prouder to call New York City home. Sure, we’re partial, but New York’s band of tireless, passionate professionals proves year after year that we live in a city of overachievers. And any chance we get to explore the evolving food and drink scene here is a year we’re grateful for the vibrant culinary community that surrounds us.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen an explosion of exciting Italian restaurants, a maturing of the farm-to-table movement, and wild culinary vision in the pastry realm—not to mention standard-setting innovation in mixology and a fresh interest in local beer and wine. We witnessed flawless execution, no-holds-barred creativity, and young chefs' dreams comes true all over the city—especially east of the East river.
In the last five years, Manhattan has relinquished her exclusive grip on chef-driven dining to her sister borough Brooklyn. And Brooklyn, in return, is making it affordable for young chefs to express themselves for the first time in the New York market—and gain the independence chefs in other cities have enjoyed for years. There are still great chefs cooking in glamorous, high-profile restaurants, but it’s this new generation of young, go-for-broke culinary talent that’s defining heart and soul of New York cooking.
Amid the hustle of New York’s Upper East Side, Rising Star Chef Will Foden is working his magic at an unsuspecting eatery. 83½ brings Foden (a recent transplant from Boston) and traditional Sicilian fare to the New York City with dishes like caponata, house giardinerra, pork cheeks, and braised octopus. Foden’s dishes show a thorough understanding of seasoning, texture, and technique—all offered at a moderate price point. And food isn’t all
There’s a pasta shape for every village in Italy, and Chef de Cuisine Adam Nadel is out to explore them all. Nadel and his team craft endless iterations of water, flour, and eggs and modernize them for diners at Chef Missy Robbins’s A Voce Columbus. With sweeping views of the Columbus Statue and Central Park, A Voce diners can take in the best of New York City scenery and Robbins’s signature regional Italian cuisine. Nadel cooks a broad repertoire of antipasti, primi, and secondi, and his cooking stands out not only for its execution but also for his seamless ingredient combinations, as in his Goat Sausage, Charred Eggplant, Prunes, and Prune Purée. Sommelier Zack Kameron pulls from an Italian-focused, 2,700-bottle list, and he’s versatile enough to bring beer into the mix.Recommended:
Be prepared to feast your eyes on vibrant fabrics and furniture arrangements fit for a sumptuous Manhattan apartment before feasting your appetite at Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Philip Suarez’s ABC Kitchen. With a kitchen led by Rising Star Chef Dan Kluger, ABC executes each dish with refinement, whether it be a simple, seasonal toast or a vibrant salad with ingredients freshly plucked from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket. Kluger’s fresh take on market-driven cuisine pushes the farm-to-table concept further than most. All the while, Pastry Chef Melody Lee keeps it classic with her elegant, home-style desserts. With a commitment to local, sustainable, and organic products, this charming space presents globally inspired dishes that are a celebration of local seasonality.Recommended:
With a name like Michael White’s attached to a restaurant, diners come to Ai Fiori with high expectations, which 2013 Rising Star Chef PJ Calapa promptly fulfills. Set in the luxurious Setai hotel, Ai Fiori mixes and matches from the best flavors and traditions of Ligurian cuisine and food from the French Riviera. The neutral dining room—with its earthy palette and soft lighting—is an understated setting for the indulgent flavors and skillful technique coming out of the kitchen. White’s trademark enticing pastas abound, but dishes such as seared bay scallops with celery root, black truffle, and bone marrow shine just as brightly. To select the perfect wine, turn to 2013 Rising Star Sommelier Emilie Perrier, who applies her extensive knowledge to a seriously comprehensive list to offer approachable and unexpected pairings.Recommended:
Large format dishes, seasonal ingredients, homemade pastas, and a profound sense of family defines Arthur on Smith. After Chef Joe Isidori’s father passed away, the 2009 Rising Star Chef left behind his own Bridgehampton restaurant to open a Brooklyn spot based on his family’s traditional Italian cooking. Isidori tries to put a piece of himself, his father, and his grandmother into each dish by offering classics in a welcoming, farm house-like space (that he built on a tight budget and innumerable runs to Home Depot). Isidori, who spent years cooking in ultra fine-dining, can't help but subtly tweak tradition, dding herbed bread crumbs and a soft-poached egg to carbonara for added contrast with crunch and silky smooth egg yolk sauce. The atmosphere, food, and passion at Arthur on Smith are a window into the life of a third generation Italian chef. This is the house of Isidori, and you are welcome to make yourself at home at its tables.Recommended:
The modern open feel of Aska, with white walls, polished wood accents, and bar, is the perfect complement to Chef Fredrik Berselius’s thoughtful, deliberate cuisine. Inspired by Scandinavian philosophy, the American Northeast, and local farmer’s markets, Berselius’s dishes offer familiar products with foreign interpretations and beautiful plating. A native Swede with cooking experience in London, Berselius has been absorbing American culture since his move to New York City in the late 1990s. His expertise and passion is now focused on this Brooklyn spot that started as a pop-up and bloomed into a trend-setting leader in the borough’s food scene.Recommended:
Chef Matt Lightner learned the secrets of molecular gastronomy in Spain and how to worship nature in Portland, Oregon, and when he moved to New York in 2012, he introduced the city to the best possible marriage of both worlds. For the privileged few that get to dine in the warm but spare setting, a meal at Atera begins with a flurry of “snacks”—one bite wonders that introduce you to Lightner’s style and leave you hankering for another bite. Next up are more composed plates, where what you see isn’t always what you get. Quail eggs resting in a nest of hay turn out to be delicately molded layers of aïoli frozen with liquid nitrogen. Chocolate wafers are really blood sausage wafers sandwiching chicken liver pâté. But the tromp l’oeil effects are less trickery than exploratory delight. His dishes are whimsical, natural, and technical. They speak their own culinary language, and parsing it is an adventure into the unexpected world of one of America’s most exciting young chefs.Recommended:
No longer in its original Upper East Side townhouse digs, Charlie Palmer’s Aureole has managed to hold onto both its prestige and clientele through a 2009 migration to Midtown. Now housed in the Bank of America building in Times Square, a new vitality enlivens the 25-year-old New York institution. Executive Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware indulges diners in lush fine-dining staples, such as Hudson Valley foie gras and dry aged ribeye. Pastry Chef Pierre Poulin and Sommelier Justin Lorenz bring their gastronomic expertise, rounding out the menu with finesse. In a quasi-retro room dominated by a sleek chandelier, watch as the sommelier selects your pairings from the wine room, a glass-walled gallery overlooking the bar space. This is the place to be for à la carte dining, from oysters on the half shell to an indulgent burger, while the dining room is all about tasting menus.Recommended:
2013 Rising Star Chefs Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern have capitalized on the affordable real estate and customer zeal Brooklyn offers to build their first joint venture from the ground up. At Battersby, they execute a sophisticated menu at neighborhood prices, tweaking modern technique and traditional flavors with restraint and an abiding faith in culinary foundations. Both chefs are alumni of the Culinary Institute of America and have worked in some of New York City’s best restaurants. Ultimately the duo settled in Brooklyn, where a barebones space—brick, simple wood tables, exposed shelving, and a teeny open kitchen—doesn’t impede their culinary vision. Nor does it impede the river of diners flowing in from all over the city to get a piece of their refreshingly mature menu. To round out their small team, Pastry Chef Jared Rubin makes updates on classic American desserts like banana pudding and black forest cake.Recommended:
The brick-walls, open kitchen, and bare ceilings of Boerum Hill’s Bien Cuit set the scene for some of the city’s best pastry. 2013 Rising Star Artisan Zachary Golper’s breads need no frills or fancy, just an industrial space with a small display case continuously refreshed until there is nothing left but crumb and lust. Golper’s 13 years of experience working across the Continental United States and France were well spent—MOFs, artisans, and masters of the trade have imparted a wealth of knowledge that spans well beyond baking and into his lively entrepreneurial spirit. His croissants, cooked as deeply brown as possible before burning, boast a shatteringly crispy crust with a creamy, yellow crumb. For Brooklyn coffee enthusiasts, Bien Cuit serves Stumptown Coffee expertly pulled from a quality espresso machine. Now with a space in Manhattan and a commissary in Sunset Park in the works, Golper’s pastries and breads will hopefully keep the city enthralled for years to come.Recommended:
Make reservations early for this Brooklyn atelier—there are only 12 seats available in the airy loft-like space above the team’s other more causal venture, Roberta’s. Turn up the tunes (yes, guests are in charge of selecting and spinning from the album library) and get cozy in your leather-lined captain chair that faces the white pristine kitchen. From your seat, watch Chef Carlo Mirarchi and his team prepare a marathon, 20-course dining experience. But save room for dessert, 2013 Rising Star Pastry Chef Katy Peetz has no preconceived notions of what to serve to sate a sweet tooth. Forget nostalgic reinterpretations of childhood favorites and deconstructed French classics. She offers flavor combinations that make even the most jaded dessert connoisseurs do a double take—think parsley, lemon, black garlic, and fennel.Recommended:
In the tradition of the English gastropubs, Chef April Bloomfield’s Breslin Bar and Dining Room offers diners generous portions of British and Continental fare. Housed in the Ace Hotel, The Breslin is as dark and comforting as a pub should be, shunning high-style in favor of kitschy pork-themed accents. Order a pint of local brew and dive into Bloomfield’s unabashedly indulgent menu with snacks to start—try the pork fat-fried boiled peanuts or the headcheese accompanied by pickles, mustard, and piccalilli, or come with a crew to tackle a few of the starters and entrées. Expect Pastry Chef Jane Tseng to tempt you to find space for dessert with her elegant and comforting creations that reflect her time in West Coast kitchens, such as Redwood Park and A16. Her use of ingredients, such as parsnips and Miticrema, blurs the line between pastry and savory, creating desserts that are as delicious as they are memorable.Recommended:
Editor turned chef and charcutier Scott Bridi learned his craft heading the charcuterie program at Chef Michael Anthony’s Gramercy Tavern. And he took that fine-dining acumen to the farmer’s market, founding Brooklyn Cured with little more than a cooler full of sausages and a dream. Bridi now sells seasonal sausages, subtle terrines, delicately smoked hams, pastrami your bubbe would love, pâtés, and killer hot dogs in five farmer’s markets, 13 specialty markets, 12 restaurants—and he may be in a major national retailer by year’s end (here's a list of purveyors). Based on the traditions of Italian-American pork stores, Lower East Side delis, French charcuterie, and German beer gardens, Bridi’s burgeoning charcuterie empire produces a seriously diverse product list that's all Brooklyn.Recommended:
Home to Rising Star Chef Gavin Kaysen for more than seven years, Café Boulud still has it. By now a beloved Upper East Side institution, Kaysen channels his creativity into four themes: Tradition, Season, Market, and World. Drawing on the best flavors offered by these sources of inspiration, Kaysen and Pastry Chef Noah Carroll present a menu founded in technique without being constrained by geography. Enjoy Champagne, small plates, and charcuterie at adjacent Bar Pleiades before stepping into the linen-draped, art-lined dining room for the main attraction—an elegant dinner in one of Chef Daniel Boulud’s signature restaurants.Recommended:
Step off the bustling New York City streets and into the heart of France at Calliope, an East Village bistro with traditional French cuisine entrenched in classic technique. Adorned with a textured ceiling, tiled flooring, and a long communal table—feeling more like a welcoming brasserie than bistro—Calliope serves classics like tete du porc, eggs mayonnaise, and ham and gruyere baguette to customers looking for a taste of France this side of the Atlantic. Rising Star Chefs Ginevra Iverson and Eric Korsh run the kitchen, and Rising Star Pastry Chef Shuna Lydon is in charge of the sweets. Calliope also offers a small bar with a full selection of liquors and wines by the glass or bottle, and in summer months the restaurant swings open its windows and doors to open its interior to New York City’s short but sweet summer months.Recommended:
The dim lights, shuttered windows, and antique fans at Greenpoint’s Calyer create a warm and welcoming atmosphere—brought to us by the owners of Anella and St. Vitus. Calyer opened in 2011, and Chef Scott Edwards joined the team in early 2013, redesigning menu but maintaining the nonchallant Brooklyn vibe. Keeping the portions and prices reasonable, Edwards offers seasonal, vegetable-forward plates with a focus on presentation and value. Roasted Carrots with cumin and yogurt and Borscht inspired roasted beets with a pork sausage-infused broth satisfy the inner carnivore without overwhelming the palate, or belt buckle.Recommended:
Tucked in the cobbled streets of Manhattan’s West Village, Catch’s multi-floor restaurant/bar/nightclub offers more than an elevator trip to dinner. The kitchen, led by Chef Hung Huynh and Pastry Chef Thiago Silva, offers the ultimate in social dining, cranking out shareable plates to tables in a steady stream throughout the evening. The seafood-focused menu spans from traditional sushi to Mahi Mahi tacos while also offering a 28 day dry-aged strip steak for must-have-beef eaters. Pastry Chef Silva brings familiar American flavors to the plate with a deconstructed banana split, seasonal stuffed donuts, and a bucket of fresh-baked cookies.Recommended:
Charles Wekselbaum believes in making charcuterie the old-fashioned way, relying on Spanish traditions learned from a stage abroad to craft his signature cured sausages for Charlito’s Cocina. Founded two years ago, Wekselbaum produces his sausages in St. Louis, Missouri, at a facility where he can control every aspect of production—from the breaking down of Berkshire pigs to the hang time and selection of sea salts and smoked paprika. But for Wekselbaum it’s all about the pork, whose flavor is never masked by additives or heavy seasonings. Although he doesn’t have a storefront just yet, Wekselbaum supplies his sausages to nearly 30 New York specialty purveyors, along with stores across the Unites States.Recommended:
Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, Colicchio & Sons exemplifies New York City industrial-chic from the décor to the dishes. In a sleek room of charcoal, cream, rich wood, and glass, diners’ eyes are drawn toward the only unfinished surface—stacks of rough-hewn firewood awaiting their turn to feed the wood-fired oven. Out of this wood oven comes the sophisticated, approachable farm-to-table food we expect of both Colicchio and 2010 Rising Star James Tracey, who heads the kitchen. Sit in the main dining room to sample the seven-course chefs tasting menu and house-made pastas. Or snag a seat in the casual Tap Room to order a rustic pizza or roast chicken for two. In perfect unison with Tracey’s vision, Pastry Chef Stephen Collucci offers diners elegant and unpretentious desserts (don’t miss out on his signature doughnuts).Recommended:
Paris meets New York City in Chef Daniel Boulud’s red-walled Theater District bistro. Pre- or post-show, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, expect to find a lively crowd indulging in French classics prepared with a Manhattan sensibility. Pedigreed Executive Chef Laurent Kalkotour, protégé of both Boulud and that other French culinary great, Alain Ducasse, prepares a menu that reflects both his own background and the expensive tastes of his clientele, from bouillabaisse to the famous db Burger. Polish off the meal with one of 2013 Rising Star Pastry Chef Ashley Brauze’s beautifully composed desserts, and you’ll instantly appreciate her artistic abilities and fierce grasp on flavor and texture. Brauze honed her skills at world class spots like El Bulli and Per Se, and at db Bistro Moderne she puts this education to good use, creating refined sweets that are visually stunning and deliver big on flavor.Recommended:
Any way you slice it (break it down or eat it), Dickson’s Farmstand Meats is all about upping the ante and expectations for local, sustainably sourced meats. More than a cut of ethically raised pork or beef, Chef David Schuttenberg transforms protein into an impressive range of charcuterie at this butcher shop/charcuterie counter/lunch hot spot in Chelsea Market. Take one step into Dickson’s and just try to resist the fresh slabs of meat or deep pink spirals of old-school, navel-cut pastrami. From pâtés and terrines to spicy tasso and smoky hot dogs with house-fermented peppers and kimchi, Schuttenberg and his team are packing a whole lot of flavor and locavore love into a small space. Diners can eat on a tight back counter or grab their dogs and pulled pork sandwiches and head for a table in the market's common areas.Recommended:
The retro disco ball whimsically dangling from Do or Dine’s ceiling gives diners a good indication of the cuisine—playful. But don’t let the flashy presentation (steak tartare served in the shape of a cow) deter you from indulging in the Japanese inspired flavors that adorn the menu. From deviled eggs (playfully titled E666s) that incorporate mentaiko to whole fried fish with yuzu-shallot vinaigrette, Chefs-owners Justin Warner and George McNeese have created a bold menu in a funky yet charming environment—equipped with an outside garden dining area. By using products from local businesses, like donuts from neighbor Dough, and feeding a hungry Brooklyn crowd, Do or Dine is out to make an impact.Recommended:
Empellón Cocina takes a modern approach to Mexican cuisine without compromising the soul of traditional dishes. It’s not just the spices and ingredients that make this Mexican cooking taste Mexican—Rising Star Pastry Chef turned savory kitchen maestro Alex Stupak concentrates on authentic technique and application as a means of defining the cuisine. The menu focuses on contemporary Mexican tapas and tacos for sharing. This trendy East Village spot blares lively hop-hop music and offers a well-stocked bar, along with seven different types of salsas served with crunchy masa chips.Recommended:
Sicilian born Chef-owner Melissa Muller Daka spent her childhood learning the traditions of Italian cuisine in her mother’s kitchen. After culinary school and attending Columbia University’s program in culinary anthropology, Daka is now reinterpreting the Sicilian meals of her childhood at Chelsea hotspot, Eolo. At its core, Daka’s food remains true to the cultural and historical culinary traditions of the region. Her freshly made pasta dishes are complex, offering both sweet and sour notes typical of Sicilian cuisine, and the rustic and intimate setting evokes the welcoming atmosphere of a lazy Sunday family meal.Recommended:
Charcutier wunderkind Aurélien Dufour and his team are taking over Manhattan’s cured meat business. With a 6,000 square foot commissary kitchen in the Bowery, Dufour processes between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds of protein a week, turning pork, chicken, and beef into beautifully layered terrines and fresh and dried sausages. Supplying every Daniel Boulud restaurant in New York City with some type of charcuterie, Dufour focuses much of his efforts on Épicerie Boulud and Bar Boulud’s charcuterie-centric menus. With terrines like poulet au citron seasoned and boudin blanc with truffled mashed potatoes, green apple, a lip-smackingly rich jus, there’s no excuse not to check out his products at 66th and Broadway.Recommended:
Back-alley barbecue has its own meaning in the South, but the North has made it a style all its own. Follow the seductive wafts of charred wood and smoke through a sunlit patio to find the entrance to Williamsburg's hottest barbecue outpost, Fette Sau. A veteran of Brooklyn’s culinary scene, 2013 Rising Star Joe Carroll opened Fette Sau in 2007—he recently partnered with Restaurateur Stephen Starr to expand to Philly—and has been pumping out tendered and rendered meat goodness to hipsters and city dwellers alike. This industrial-styled space comes equipped with communal seating, old butcher knives repurposed as beer taps, and a killer whisky selection. The meat and traditional sides are served on a lined sheet tray for devouring, as any good barbecue should be.Recommended:
Step into the serene atmosphere of live trees and natural light in The Garden at the Four Seasons Hotel, and you might forget you’re in Midtown Manhattan. Floor to ceiling windows flood the space with an airy glow, reflecting off the dark wood floors and tables, with earth toned upholstery tying it all together. For breakfast, brunch, and lunch Executive Chef John Johnson offers a menu of refined American classics such as Corned Beef Hash and Chicken Cobb Salad. Executive Pastry Chef Salvatore Martone (who won last year’s StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition) advanced in the Vegas hotel scene at the Wynn Hotel and then the MGM Grand, working under Chef Joël Robuchon. At The Garden he crafts beautiful breakfast breads and elegant desserts on par with the Four Seasons reputation.Recommended:
You’ll think you’re visiting the 1920s when you walk into Gordon Ramsay at the London, with its etched green glass walls and deco furnishings. But 2010 Rising Star Chef Markus Glocker establishes the restaurant as a firmly modern presence with an evolving contemporary European menu. Pastry Chef Scott Cioe (who took over for Ron Paprocki in 2012) draws from a local pantry, seeking out Brooklyn-made ricotta and locally roasted coffee to make elegant desserts buoyed by refreshing herbal and bitter notes. Cioe draws from an Italian background and pastry work at Chef Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln, but he takes inspiration from a global pantry, crafting memorable sweet endings for Gordon Ramsay diners.Recommended:
Whether you’re looking to sip a cappuccino or a martini, pick up a few groceries or sit down for dinner, Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria has what you need. Brainchild of Donna Lennard, owner of the original Il Buco in the East Village, this spot came about as both a means of supplying the original restaurant with high-end, imported Italian goods and an opportunity for diners to sample authentic Italian dishes outside the formality of typical restaurants. 2013 Rising Star Chef Justin Smillie combines elements of farm-to-table cuisine with traditional Italian technique—from large format meat plates to house-made charcuterie and spot-on pasta. And though the soul of his dishes is all Italian, Smillie is ultimately a Manhattan chef, dipping his skillful hand into an international pantry to enliven one of the city’s most cherished cuisines.Recommended:
After Hurricane Sandy shut down Jo’s and wiped out its walk-in this fall, Owner Johnny Santiago gave Chef Andrew Pressler the go ahead to shed the restaurant’s New American menu and replace it with Southeast Asian dishes closest to Pressler’s heart. Pressler, who has traveled in Asia and worked with Rising Star Chefs Patricia Yeo and Zak Pellaccio, has a great command of spices, heat, and the Asian pantry—and he integrates those elements into traditional dishes and playful riffs (including some of the best fried chicken we’ve eaten this year). Jo’s still boasts a generous bar up front and a solid list of craft beers (that happen to pair impeccably with Pressler’s food). And the vibe, bolstered by Ragae music, a lively bar crowd, and a casual brick-walled space, embodies the best of neighborhood dining—with the added bonus of Pressler’s unexpected, exciting menu.Recommended:
In Manhattan’s concrete jungle lies a Peruvian oasis, serving fresh seafood and Peruvian culture. Owner Gaston Acurio took a leap with his first American outpost, La Mar, where the dishes are based on the traditional cuisine of small fishing villages from his South American home. Chef Victoriano López serves refreshing ceviche, rice, and seafood stews, alongside traditional anticuchos and dressings. With a friendly staff and a colorful, bright atmosphere, this hip and lively hot spot feels like a trip to Peru without leaving New York City. López was first introduced to the culinary craft making and selling street food in Lima. After training in some of the top restaurants around the world, he now shares his native fare with New Yorkers longing for a taste of South America.Recommended:
In Chef David Santos’s first solo venture, he explores the cuisine and culture of Portugal through the cheeky lens of a New York City pantry. Santos isn’t afraid to put together wild, out-of-the-box flavor combinations like his off-menu octopus bolognese with goose pancetta or hamachi, purple carrots, bergamot, and tempura carrot tops. Santos grounds the menu with solid technique (he perfected his pasta-making skills at Per Se) and the occasional straightforward Portuguese dish. And the West Village chic interior, with its relaxed white wooden booths, white walls, black and white pendant lamps, and signature bay leaf art work (louro is Portuguese for bay), is a subdued canvas that let’s Santos’s food do all of the talking.Recommended:
With Masak, now in its second year, Chef Larry Reutens fuses the bold, eclectic flavors of his native Singapore with local product, French training, and a bent on creative seasonality. The small, clean space is structured on subtle British Colonial design, with exposed brick and a lively open kitchen keeping things from feeling too tidy. And it’s from that fairly small outpost that Reutens sculpts the flavors and dishes of Singapore and beyond with a refined, and at times playful, execution. Thus we get dishes like the quih pie tee, small pastry cups filled (untraditionally) with foie gras, pickled beets, and pear, or spicy rock shrimp on a bed of soft grits, cut with a palm sugar gastrique. As the menu suggests, Reutens isn’t preoccupied with authenticity, but rather fusing and following the flavors and techniques that speak to him.Recommended:
Maysville, the Kentucky birthplace of bourbon, is now an American whiskey bar stirring up premium cocktails and cranking out sophisticated Southern comfort food. Owner Sean Joseph—who launched Char No. 4 in Brooklyn—and former Gramercy Tavern sous chef and native Southerner Chef Kyle Knall take comfort foods to new levels, leaving barbecue ribs and baked beans behind in favor of braised pork shoulder and belly with butter beans and pigeon peas. A variety of chilled and raw seafood offers a refreshing alternative to characteristically hearty victuals. And in keeping with Joseph’s first New York venture, the rustic, urban space has an illuminated ceiling and backlit bar displaying a fine sampling of bourbons and whiskies.Recommended:
In a culinary scene obsessed with immersion circulators and micro greens, The Meatball Shop focuses on delivering comfort food in the form of a ball. From spicy pork balls slathered in meat sauce to provolone-smothered chicken balls crammed into a pesto rubbed baguette, it’s all about the worth-the-hype meatballs. Conceived in a late-night gnosh fest, 2013 Rising Stars Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman have created a meatball empire with four locations, three in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. The casual fuss-free menu allows guests to customize their own meal by selecting a meatball type, sauce, and a range of veggie and side options. In a trendy and fast-paced environment (with bargain prices to match), the shop serves simple, hearty, and responsibly sourced meals worth slowing down and savoring.Recommended:
Mesa Coyoacán is the neighborhood Mexican restaurant you've always wanted. Tall tables, orange hues, and slow-glow lamps set the stage for Chef Ivan Garcia’s authentic Mexican menu at this fun, low-key spot in Williamsburg. Garcia serves classics like flautas and handmade tamales, alongside a wide selection of reasonably priced tacos made with organic ingredients. He also offers a number of vegetarian items, a selection of ceviches, and a long list of what Garcia calls “strong plates,” which includes chile relleno and enchiladas with the traditional salsas verde, mole, and roja toppings.Recommended:
Mile End Sandwich is the Manhattan spin-off of 2013 Rising Star Restaurateur Noah Bernamoff’s Montreal-style Jewish deli, Mile End Delicatessen in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Tucked off Bond Street in Noho, sunlight pours into the white-tiled restaurant, where diners order from a massive chalkboard menu above the quick-serve counter. There’s highboy seating down the center of the narrow restaurant, where we suggest you park it to dig into one of
Seasons of “Iron Chef” have come and gone since Chef Masaharu Morimoto first cut the proverbial ribbon on his Chelsea flagship. And even as the pro has vaulted from the kitchen to the echelons of celebrity chefdom, his namesake restaurant is still the seat of modern, dependably exciting Japanese cuisine in New York City. Step through the orange curtains—fluttering with the honk-happy hum of Lincoln Tunnel traffic—into a dining room of ivories and creams glowing in otherworldly light. Holding down the fort and upholding the Morimoto name is Sushi Chef Robby Cook And whether you go the omakase route, ceding your meal to Cook, or order à la carte, finishing your meal with Pastry Chef Manabu Inoue’s desserts guarantees your night will have as much sparkle as sensory pleasure.Recommended:
Bordering on austere in its simplicity, Neta’s intimate space is a blank canvas for displaying its artful take on modern Japanese cuisine. The minimalist dining room is dominated by a blonde wood bar lined with tall black chairs—perfect perches from which diners can watch Chefs Nik Kim and Jimmy Lau work. The chefs, veterans of Masa Takayama’s genre-defying Masa and Bar Masa, have built this venture on masterful technique and the world-class product one would expect of their sensei, in a setting that forgoes traditional formality in favor of modern accessibility. Revel in East-meets-West offerings, such as king mushrooms with spicy fries and serrano peppers and wagyu beef tataki with maitake mushrooms, seaweed salt, and Périgord truffles. Or sit back in those tall chairs and give free rein to the chefs by opting for the omakase menu.Recommended:
Rising Star Chef Daniel Humm’s newest venture, The NoMad, is one of the most dynamic restaurants in New York City. The vibe of the sexy, high-style NoMad hotel seeps into the dining room full of luxiourious fabric chairs, dark wood tables, and dimly lit ambiance. From the kitchen 2013 New York Rising Star Chef Abram Bissell makes haute comfort food look effortless while executing at the highest level in the city. 2013 Rising Star Sommelier Thomas Pastuszak leads the wine program with a versatile list of Grand Cru bottles and esoteric gems—not to mention a custom NoMad Champagne blend—to pair with Bissell’s cuisine and the restaurant’s mixed clientele of food lovers and high rollers. And in for the quadruple Rising Star threat, 2011 Rising Star Mixologist Leo Robitschek leads the cocktail program for the restaurant and library-inspired bar.Recommended:
Chef Tyler Kord made a name for himself at No. 7 in Brooklyn’s Fort Green, and when the Ace Hotel tapped him to open a sandwich shop, he vowed to do it on his own terms. For Kord and his No. 7 Subs, that means combining the most unlikely of bedfellows between two slices of bread. And while some of the combinations sound downright scary, diners can trust their palates to Kord’s purposeful, twisted logic that brings on such flavor mash-ups like his famous Broccoli, Lychee Muchim, Ricotta Salata, and Pine Nuts. Now in four Manhattan and Brooklyn locations, diners can eat in, take-out, or order delivery for an adventure into Kord’s territory of uncharted flavor.Recommended:
Osteria Morini has Michael White, king of fancy Italian, digging bare-handed and happy to get back to the roots of rustic Italian in all its uncomplicated, soulful glory. An open kitchen, picture-studded brick walls, and small wooden tables with green and white chairs set a suitably homey scene for the hearty cuisine of Emilia-Romagna. Chef Bill Dorrler heads the kitchen that delivers the unassailable perfection of simple Italian food, as when prosciutto cuts through the lavish richness of butter-coated truffled mascarpone ravioli. Pastry Chef Brian Sullivan infuses fresh flavors (not to mention fine-dining execution) into classic Italian desserts while keeping them familiar enough that they jive with Osteria Morini’s low-key magic.Recommended:
Every aspect of Parish Hall is fresh. Home to 2013 Rising Star Sustainability Chef Evan Hanczor, the food here is driven by seasons, farmers, and traditions of the Northeast. Sounds familiar enough as a concept, but Hanczor and Owner George Weld (of Egg fame) have a holistic vision of farm-to-table dining. Starting with the décor: the interior is modern and white with sleek blond wood banquettes and tables—with none of the clichéd rustic-industrial-barnyard feel. As for the food, Hanczor not only sources ingredients from local farmers, he and his team grow and harvest them from their own upstate farm. He and Weld also take on sustainability from a human perspective, paying employees higher-than-standard wages and keeping their work weeks to a sane 40 hours . All those good vibes, though, wouldn’t mean much if Hanczor didn’t deliver on food. Dining at Parish Hall is a reflection of the Northeast with vegetable-heavy plates, lovingly cooked proteins, deep layers of flavor, and pleasant spikes of acid. Just the kind of delicious, feel-good food New York needs to stay in touch with its greater humanity.Recommended:
2013 Rising Star Chef Michael Toscano has unleashed his mastery of both meat and Italian cuisine on an unsuspecting street in Greenwich Village. Tucked on a northwest corner of Minetta Lane, Owner Gabriel Stuhlman’s Perla skirts the line between period restaurant and hip destination, with long red leather-lined banquettes, richly stained tables, and stunning marble accents—and don’t forget the infamous framed photo of rapper Mos Def. The purposeful décor lets you know Perla means business, but you’re here to enjoy yourself. Toscano serves some crowd favorites from his alma mater Manzo, including beef tartare and braised and grilled tongue—dishes that made Stuhlman fall in love with Toscano's cooking in the first place. But Toscano also forges ahead with expertly executed vitello tonnato, generously dressed with a silky aïoli and crispy fried capers, and beef tripe ragù with handmade garganelli.Recommended:
Dining at Pig and Khao feels akin to dining at a great friend’s house—where the beer is cheap and the food is prepared by a passionate, spice-crazed chef. The electric, comfortable space pulses with 2013 Rising Star Chef Leah Cohen’s vibrant cooking—not to mention bright green walls, the thrall of an open kitchen, and thump of hip-hop music. The ambiance gets the party started, and Cohen follows through with her brand of Southeast Asian cuisine, picked up through extensive travel to Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Few things are better than a rich and sour broth adorned with a whole fried fish or slippery noodles in a spicy red curry. Throw in Indian-spiced lamb ribs with pickled beets and cumin yogurt, and diners begin to understand the depth and soul in Cohen’s food.Recommended:
A new Brooklyn joint has emerged for sating gourmand’s pasta woes. In Gowanus, 2013 New York Rising Star Chef Angelo Romano is taking a leap by serving good food in a relaxed atmosphere with some hip-hop off the cones. At The Pines he combines the depth and variety of Asian ingredients with the traditions and history of Italy to create a beacon for eaters looking for adventurous plates at moderate prices. The space’s welcoming feel comes from worn pastel and white plaster walls and a mishmash of eclectic décor. It’s a great setting to sit and nosh on some cured olives before indulging on rich cheeses and cured meats, a portion of foie gras, and some of Romano’s signature handmade pastas.Recommended:
There’s a reason it looks like the late 19th century is slowly, politely taking over Court Street. Prime Meats, a farm-to-table restaurant and bar that dominates the corner of Court and Luquer, is modeled after turn-of-the-century inns and dining rooms of old Manhattan-town. An airy space with big windows, raw woods, and a few key polished touches, Prime Meats is part of the Frankies family owned by Owners Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo. The food is artisan American with a Germanic twist, with Falcinelli making arguably the best German-style sausages in New York City.
Chef Yuhi Fujinaga took over the kitchen at this power lunch hub in 2012 and infused the menu with his signature blend of Asian and French cuisine. Diners can still enjoy classic crab cakes while watching ice skaters careen into each other in Rock Center’s skating rink, but they can also get a true taste of New York City cooking with dishes like Fujinaga’s Hamachi, Foie Gras Consommé, and Rice Noodles. Sommelier Jason Ferris pours wine from a compact, accessible list and has a penchant for showing off American wines.Recommended:
Empty beer bottles line the floor, jazz pumps through the speakers, and a grandma’s greenhouse worth of plants dots the windowsills at Christian Pappanicholas’s Resto. The interior of the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously. What’s serious at Resto is meat and beer. Chef Preston Clark executes a deft charcuterie program—from old-school terrines and pâtés to modern staple pig ears and singing sweetbreads. And he excels at large format plates, perfect for devouring in a carnal, communal gathering. And what better way to wash down Flintstone-sized lamb ribs than with one of 500+ beers on the menu? “Beer Guy” Julian Kurland manages a list of esoteric European finds, American craft brews, and New York City suds, and he pairs them with aplomb—setting the stage for a seriously good meal and time.Recommended:
The Wythe Hotel is Williamsburg’s answer to Manhattan’s The Standard (sans exhibitionist hotel guests) with hip caché, stunning western views from a sixth floor bar, and an excellent ground floor restaurant run by Chef Sean Rembold. Penny tile floors, a granite bar, exposed brick, and aged accents set a 19th century tone at Reynard, where Rembold serves a hearty, new American menu. Deft with texture and nuance, Rembold’s dishes are more substantial than his presentation lets on. And seasonal, vegetable-centric plates make this hotel dining feel of-the-moment rather than mired in the clichés of mass-appeal menus. This is Brooklyn after all, and Williamsburg expects more of its hotels and chefs than Midtown Manhattan. Reynard is a destination in and of itself, woven seamlessly into the fabric of the city's most exciting food neighborhood.Recommended:
Rosemary’s oozes rustic Italian charm with its wooden floors, brick walls, and slatted ceiling. Stringed lights hang from the rafters above aged wooden tables that are bathed in natural light from large windows on three sides of the restaurant. The beautiful West Village space only looks better once Chef Wade Moises’s food comes to the table. Moises, alum of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, serves simple Italian cuisine with no room to hide the quality of his ingredients. Said ingredients are plucked straight from the Manhattan skyline, with herbs and vegetables grown in the restaurant’s own rooftop garden. Moises favors rustic dishes—like composed salads of seasonal vegetables and salumé made from braised octopus and accented with pickled cauliflower. With acid-forward seasoning and a dash of quality olive oil the plates represent Moises's dedication to his craft.Recommended:
When it came time to open his own restaurant, 2013 Rising Star Chef Justin Bazdarich (who opened 15 restaurant for Chef Jean-Georges Vongericten) wanted to combine two beloved foods: steak and pizza. And to unify those disparate cuisines, Bazdarich centered Brooklyn’s Speedy Romeo on wood and flame, with nearly all his dishes fired on a parilla-style grill or blistered in a wood-burning oven. Housed in a former auto repair shop and named for his business partner Todd Feldman’s family racing horse, Speedy Romeo has a casual-cool vibe with a smidge of kitsch that Bazdarich echoes in his pizza names and toppings—take the Dick Dale with speck, pineapple, Provel cheese, and grilled scallions. And on the grilled side of the menu, Bazdarich’s kitchen sends out flawless slabs of meat and fish, delicate crab crostini, and even desserts, proving his prowess, versatility, and fire for cooking.Recommended:
Brooklyn is no stranger to serious steakhouses, but at St. Anselm, Restaurateur and 2013 Rising Star Joe Carroll has designed an unpretentious neighborhood joint, where Chef Yvon de Tassigny grills everything from steaks and chops to eggplant and long beans. Deliveringin both creativity and flavor Tassigny shows that she knows her way around the grill with steakhouse classics and new and bold staples like wine-braised octopus and grilled haloumi with pea greens. Brick walls, wooden tables, a generous bar, and an open kitchen are a few of the charms that St. Anselm offers. Casual and inviting with simple grilled cuisine, this Brooklyn eatery is one charred gem.Recommended:
Talde brings new spice to the Brooklyn dining scene, blending Eastern and Western traditions and cuisine. With exotic flavors that linger and develop more with each bite, the menu pays tribute to classic Asian street foods heightened with sophisticated flavor combinations and elegant plating. 2013 New York Rising Star Dale Talde’s Filipino upbringing mixed with classic training (and an early diet of American fast food) influence the progressive Asian fusion menu. Adding to the authentic appeal, antique Asian mahogany woodwork covers the walls and frames the windows, while an open kitchen invites diners to follow the culinary action. At its heart, Talde is fun. It’s packed seven nights a week, and its chef is feeding people a personal, inspired, and daring vision of food.Recommended:
For two years, 2013 Rising Star Pastry Chef Malcolm Livingston II has been honing his skills at Chef Wylie Dufresne’s Lower East Side great gastronomy experiment, wd~50. Veteran of Per Se and Le Cirque, Livingston started his tenure at wd~50 as pastry sous chef for Rising Star Pastry Chef Alex Stupak. After Stupak’s departure only a year later, Livingston rose to the challenge, assuming the pastry chef position where he has been challenging palates and minds since. His desserts are as technically and conceptually diverse as you’d expect from the house of Dufresne. Drawing inspiration from traditional desserts, like crème brûlée, Livingston adds his own twist with a frozen cucumber skin disc to mimic the crisp sugar topping and a creamy cucumber gelato with jasmine infused cream for the custard. His approach to cuisine fits well at wd~50 as Dufresne and his team push the boundaries between food and science, fun and haute cuisine, and have been since 2003.Recommended:
Instead of your standard mom-and-pop corner Mediterranean joint, Zizi Limona serves redefined Mediterranean from a fresh Williamsburg space complete with conditioned wood floors, a tiled bar, a bookshelf full of spices, and a windowed kitchen. Wrapped in muted pastels, the décor welcomes you into the warm spices and flavorful cuisine of the Mediterranean coast. The restaurant is heavily inspired by the childhoods of owners Nir Mesika, Sharon Hoota, and Yigal Ashkenazi. Cooking with the flavors and ingredients they came to love growing up in the Eastern Mediterranean, the trio mixes the familiarities of hummus and babaganoush with dishes like gravlax, curry yogurt, and fried cauliflower and “Aunt Trippo’s Falafels” with pickled cabbage and charred onion.Recommended:
Restaurants with brewing programs aren’t a new concept, but they’re still rare in New York City. 508’s Chef-owner Jennifer Hill makes it a point to have in house-brewed craft beer to accompany her Mediterranean-American menu. Last fall she brought on Brewer Chris Cuzme, president of the New York City Homebrewer’s Association and commercial consultant, to supervise beer production. Cuzme’s brewing style reflects his eclectic background and outgoing personality. He rarely brews the same recipe twice and incorporates off-beat ingredients like assorted citrus into his Belgian wit and Szechuan peppercorns into saisons. His beers pair with many different dishes and work especially well with bright acidic seafood.Recommended:
As if we needed more proof of the robustness of New York City’s mixo scene, there’s Ba’sik, a cocktail and small plates spot in Williamsburg that arrived quietly, assumed a savvy audience, and now perpetrates craft cocktails on a daily, ultra-casual basis. The space matches the bar’s intentional “public house” vibe: chic but familiar and cozy but somehow expansive, with rough woods and a stone floor lending the interior an openness. And Mixologist Jay Zimmerman's drink list follows suit with a few variations on classics like the silky Manhattan-variation Room #8, and the Margarita-inspired Love Letter to Oaxaca, with Del Maguey Mezcal and a palate-prepping salty chocolate rim. Cocktail prices are modest, meaning diners can indulge in small-plates sharing, and possibly a PBR, best sipped under the summer sun on the back patio.Recommended:
Dan Greenbaum has a deep love of Sherry, but his mixo tastes are confidently exploratory—hence The Beagle, the bar Greenbaum co-owns and manages in the East Village, named in honor of Darwin’s famous expedition. Greenbaum’s Beagle has experienced its own evolution. Now in its second iteration as a casual dining and cocktail spot (with an even more extensive Sherry list), the space is sunlit and elegant by day, with rich notes of blue, and cozily intimate by night. And while the dinner menu keeps things fairly low-key, the drinks menu is a manifestation of Greenbaum and Head Bartender Tom Richter’s authoritative imaginations. Greenbaum’s cocktails inevitably showcase his passion for Sherry—the complex Andorra Cocktail combines Manzanilla with Blanche Armagnac and Dolin Blanc Vermouth—but he also plays skillfully in other corners of the cocktail sandbox. The Smog Cutter balances mezcal, Negro Modelo, ginger, and cucumber for a refreshing, aromatic cocktail.Recommended:
Deep in the heart of Long Island City rests one of New York City’s newest breweries. Owned and operated by Brewers Kyle Hurst and Robby Crafton, Big Alice Brewing started after the duo won a people’s choice award in a local home-brewing contest in 2011. Both Hurst and Crafton started as avid homebrewers with a dream and scrappy work ethic, and they now make small-batch beers in their freshly painted “nanobrewery.” With interesting culinary additions like Buddah’s hand and Gorilla Coffee, and using yeast strains that yield a bubble-gummy finish, the brewery is attracting beer geeks from around the city. Don’t be fooled by the unconventional flavors; the beers are balanced and purposeful. No two brews are the same, so if you find something you like, buy it fast before the keg floats.Recommended:
The idea of hoisting a professional brewing system to a 14th floor rooftop is crazy—even Head Brewer Peter Hepp of Birreria agrees. But the end result is the ultimate urban beer garden set atop Mario Batali’s Eataly. You’ll need a reservation (or luck) to grab a seat in Birreria’s sunlit atrium in cold weather and open-air deck come spring. The crowds here converge for views of the New York City skyline and Hepp’s incredible roster of beers. Batali and Hepp have tapped a high-caliber group of brewers to consult on specialty brews, including Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Teo Musso of Baladin, and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra Del Borgo. Hepp’s own unpasteurized and unfiltered cask ales are tart and complex. Take his Etruscan recipe flavored with pomegranate molasses. Its origins are complicated (the yeast is derived from a hornet’s belly), but the light carbonation of the cask allows the sweetness and acidity of the molasses to shine without overpowering the palate.Recommended:
If Dave Arnold is captain of cocktail-tech temple Booker and Dax, Tristan Willey is his second mate. Bar Manager might be the more accurate term, but the way things go at Booker and Dax, you might also expect to see Willey in a lab coat and/or safety goggles, depending on the current menu. Not that high-tech gadgetry is the name of the game at this East Village cocktail addition to the Momofuku empire; Arnold and co. care more about finding the science behind the best (and most expedient) cocktail. If that happens to involve liquid nitrogen and a hand-crank Japanese ice machine, so be it. Willey uses the high- and low-tech arsenal to his advantage, demonstrating savvy and humor with drinks like the Gin and Juice (made with carbonated clarified grape juice) and the rich, ready-to-serve Bottled Manhattan (one of the best we’ve tasted, period). The eclectic space acts as a theater of sorts, with everyone in decent eyeshot of the bar.Recommended:
Most young breweries tend to brew multiple styles from multiple regions. Brewers Chris Gallant and Damian Brown have gone the route of some of the most successful craft brewers and focus on one specific beer: the pale ale. Maintaining an office in the Bronx and brewing in Connecticut, the duo has created a sizable local presence in a very short time with seasonal riffs on their signature pale ales. Gallant and Brown recently acquired a new space in the South Bronx, where they’ve started building a 20-barrel brew house and taproom to open by summer 2014.Recommended:
As the godfathers of the New York City brewing scene, Steve Hindy and Tom Potter’s Brooklyn Brewery has been the most recognizable name in the New York beer scene since its founding in 1987. And with the hiring of Head Brewer Garrett Oliver in 1994 and the opening of their Williamsburg, Brooklyn, space in 1996, the brewery has become one of the foremost craft beer presences in the United States—and even the world. Currently sold in 25 states and 20 countries, Brooklyn Brewery is now aligning itself with fine-dining restaurants. Oliver hosts numerous beer dinners around the world and has recently hired an in-house chef to build an event space kitchen at the brewery. Keep your eyes open for Sorachi Ace, with its bright, refreshing carbonation and lemony hops or the heavily carbonated citrus saison that pairs well with everything from Thai food to a simple roast chicken.Recommended:
Brooklyn, artisan capital of the East Coast, has in its midst one the of the premier urban wineries in the world. Vintner Conor McCormack brings in local and California grapes, presses them in house, and ferments them in 8,000 square feet of warehouse space. McCormack doesn’t focus on a single style—instead he plays with a number of varietals (Riesling, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.) and ages the wine in both stainless steel and oak casks. To accompany McCormack’s selections, Chef David Colston (an alum of Picholine, Momofuku Ko, and Corton) makes the most of his diverse culinary background with dishes like fluke crudo, pistachios, kaffir lime, togarashi oil, and yucca chips. Whether you choose to sit in the wine bar or the atrium, with its abundant natural light, an evening at Brooklyn Winery is well spent at a venue that’s certain to become a New York City drinking and dining institution.Recommended:
The task of embodying “the conviviality of Old New York and the Irish-American tradition” might seem like a tall order, especially if you’re attempting it in the Financial District. But given the serious skill set shared between Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, it’s no surprise The Dead Rabbit has come boisterously to life. Muldoon is the mind behind the concept, which fuses the best of craft cocktails with the “Irish-British tavern tradition,” while McGarry heads up the extensive 12-category, 19th century cocktail menu. It took McGarry two years of research and experimentation before he perfected each of his 72 historic reinterpretations, but it was time well spent. His meticulousness and creativity get expression in a diverse array of cocktails. The space matches the ambition and warmth of the concept, with a Taproom, Parlor, and even a Grocery where you can pick up British sundries like tapenades, preserves, and tinned fish to take home or eat alongside your punch, fizz, nog, smash, and so forth.Recommended:
The unassuming exterior says nothing of what’s inside this dim, chandelier-laden, Prohibition-style speakeasy, outpost of some of New York City’s most talented mixologists. (Pro barkeeps Brian Miller, Alex Day, Jason Littrell, and Joaquín Simó have all launched serious careers from this industry mainstay.) The premise is fairly standard: a team of crack bartenders, each talented in their own right, execute a long cocktail list filled with reinterpretations of classics. But the outcome tends to transcend expectations, as exemplified by a drink from 2013 Rising Star Mixologist Jillian Vose. Like her Death & Company predecessors, Vose has her classic cocktail repertoire down—but it’s where she goes off book, sometimes wildly so, that she really shines. Take the Morning Buzz, a combination that could’ve only come in a dream: Cognac, Ron Zacapa 23 year rum, orgeat, Amontillado Sherry, Honey Nut Cheerios-infused cream, and egg yolk—an unexpected symphony of creamy nuttiness balanced out by the complexity of its powerhouse ingredients.Recommended:
Adding yet more bang to Williamsburg’s independent mixological buck (a currency to rival Manhattan) is Donna, a Central American-inspired cocktail and small plates venture that sits in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. Architectural edifices might loom outside, but inside it’s all about light and graceful curves, with a vaulted ceiling and the overall promise of a just polished-antique—courtesy of designer brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave. Like the food menu, drinks veer south of the border, with lots of rum (some of it Ancho chili-infused, as in the bracing Scarlet Fever) and bold flavors balanced by a grounding in the classics. Mixologist Jeremy Oertel straddles the divide gamely: his Brancolada is a nimble twist on a classic colada, minty, fresh, subtly rich, and palate-quenching, while the subtler Donna Daiquiri is a lesson in the beautiful chemistry of minimal ingredients.Recommended:
The doors, windows, and arms are wide open at Dram, Williamsburg’s laid-back answer to the post-speakeasy era bar. The space is a clean open box of wood and light, a life-size diorama of savvy, happy Brooklyn imbibing. And while the atmosphere here might be more casual than your average cocktail den, behind the bar, the drinks are as serious as they get. Indeed, recent tastings with Tonia Guffey and Jeffrey Hazell confirmed Dram’s reputation as a bartender’s bar, complete with a passion for bespoke cocktail prep and a pervasive case of Fernet-o-philia—not to mention a shared love for the misunderstood Swizzle. Cocktails range from twists on classics to far-out innovations; Hazell’s Corner of the Sky layers fruit and delicate heat into the icy rum backbone of the Swizzle, while Guffey’s King Medicine nimbly mixes varied flavors—vegetal, fruity, spicy, smoky—to incredible, memorable success.Recommended:
The name Employees Only might seem to emphasize an industry-centric ethos, but the fact is this West Village cocktail den is among New York’s most sought after civilian drinking experiences. The narrow, sleek space combines elements of Art Deco and a modern aesthetic, resulting in a relaxed speakeasy atmosphere complete with a fortune teller at the door. Whimsical touches continue behind the bar, but they’re grafted onto a cocktail program that’s as serious as they come. If Mixologist Stephen Schneider’s sleek chef-style jacket doesn’t convince you, cocktails like his Doctor! Doctor! will, pairing the genteel herbaceous frenzy of Beefeater and Chartreuse with Lillet Blanc and quinine bitters.Recommended:
Another testament to Williamsburg’s mixology microcosm (and maybe one of its progenitors), Huckleberry Bar opened in 2007 and has since settled quite comfortably into the status of “neighborhood favorite.” Not that anyone at, or specifically behind, the bar is getting too comfortable; as long as Huckleberry has been in its casual, relaxed East Williamsburg space, the menu has been evolving. Seasonal emphasis and creativity reign supreme (on cocktail and small plates menu alike). Mixologist Ian Hardie’s Foreman Twig is an excellent savory cocktail—among a few we’ve tasted this year—balancing the fruitiness of homemade beet syrup and Framboise with fresh lime juice and a bracing salt solution, plus a healthy dose of Old Overholt Rye. And the I’ll Have What She’s Having proves that the whole really can transcend the sum of its parts, in this case Gordon’s Gin, Aperol, and St. Germain.Recommended:
Working alongside 2013 New York Rising Star Matt Lightner might be intimidating for some barkeeps, but like his head chef, mixologist Brandon Duff is eagerly devoted to boundary pushing, and when he hits on a flavor combination he wants to chase, Lightner steps in with kitchen technology to help achieve Duff’s dream composition. Inevitably, some drinks are more adventurous than balanced: his Sap takes the juniper/pine notes of gin and runs with it, enriching it with actual pine sap and lifting that bracing forest flavor onto a pillowy bed of egg white. Upstairs, the restaurant is like a naturalist’s laboratory, with clean lines and rich earth hues anchored by Lightner’s open kitchen space. The downstairs lounge is smaller, chicly intimate, with seating for 12 in a kind of haute living room space.Recommended:
Phil Ward opened this Mexican style speakeasy down the street from Death & Company, where he previously tended bar. The Latin-inspired bar food at Mayahuel is the perfect accompaniment to Ward’s potent, flavorful concoctions. And now, with the help of Mixologist Dan Nicolaescu, Mayahuel continues to prove why it deserves a visit. Nicolaescu balances sweet and heat in his El Sucio, a tequila based drink with fino Sherry and habañero tincture. And if heat in a cocktail isn’t your thing, Mayahuel has an extensive menu, offering more than 40 flights, stirs, punches, and more.Recommended:
At the family reunion of New York City cocktail bars, Milk and Honey would likely sit at (or near) the head of the table. Having birthed a generation of talent, it’s like the granddaddy of New York’s now prolific mixology scene, a quiet temple to the practice of craft cocktails, complete with restrictive reservations policy, polite behavioral rules, and guaranteed, standard-setting quality. It’s also recently relocated, bringing a new wave of mixo-seriousness to the Flatiron district. But if digs have changed (there’s still a polished but spare interior, with emphasis on the drinking experience) the Milk and Honey ethos endures. And it’s found new expression in the hands of young Theo Lieberman, who serves drinks that play deftly on cocktail classics. The McKittrick Old Fashioned is a simple, but surprisingly effective variation on that classic (with Pedro Ximénez Sherry and mole bitters), while the Regal grafts a calming childhood aromatic memory onto a backbone of Buffalo Trace, lemon, and honey.Recommended:
In the midst of Little Italy’s never-ending food circus of gelato peddlers, clustered al fresco tables, and street carts strewn with huge hunks of nougat, an unmarked stairway leads down to a hip cocktail lounge. This is the titular “project” of Mulberry Project, a dimly lit den of reds and glass and mildly disturbing artwork where imbibers can order bespoke cocktails courtesy of head bartender and “Project” partner Jeremy Strawn. Strawn is a fast-talker, especially when he’s excited, but give him—or your waiter—a spirit and a flavor profile (or pick from the daily chalkboard of ingredients) and you’re about 99.9 percent likely to love what you’re served. The same holds true for Chef Mike Camplin’s menu, which somehow fits a huge amount of seasonal sophistication onto small plates. Sit outside on the back deck for a calmer kind of Mulberry Street al fresco. (The clown-wary should avoid facing opposite a startling, but impressive, back patio mural.)Recommended:
Jim Meehan’s PDT has established itself as a benchmark of decidedly un-stuffy perfectionism. The waffle fries and tripped out hot dogs from neighboring Crif Dogs certainly help, as does the surprisingly relaxed space accessed by way of telephone booth. The bar is all old-school elegance, practically glowing in the dim brick room, while several taxidermy odes to wildlife embrace the wilder side of cocktail culture. PDT's extensive seasonal menu is built on some of the city’s top talent. Head Bartender and 2013 New York Rising Star Jeff Bell is among them, serving drinks that somehow combine complex creativity with elegance and reserve. In the funky, progressive Cabeza y Cerveza, the green, earthy flavors of Cabeza tequila are echoed and lifted by Victory Prima Pils, habañero shrub and Pok Pok tamarind drinking vinegar. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Cereal Milk Punch, which balances Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cereal Milk with Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey and a softening dose of honey for a subtly textural, quietly rich sip.Recommended:
Brewers Ethan Long and Marcus Burnett started brewing in their Rockaway bungalows in 2007, and after finding space adjacent to their current studio in Long Island City, they opened Rockaway Brewing Company in 2011. Brewing on a two-barrel system they barely meet steeply increasing demand, but you can still find locally distributed brews or stop in at the brewhouse to top of a growler and see the digs. RBC’s style focuses more on the malt-forward styles like ESBs or the uncharacteristically light and flavorful Scotch Ales like the High Plains Drifter. These drinkable and flavorful brews are quickly becoming local favorites putting Rockaway in position for growth and expansion.Recommended:
If you were to be saved by a taco, you’d probably want it to happen here, April Bloomfield’s latest—and maybe least expected—outpost with partner in crime Ken Friedman. Set next to a hotel lobby in blossoming foodie neighborhood Murray Hill, Salvation Taco is where Bloomfield gets to play (very loosely) with that beloved culinary fixture. Authenticity takes a backseat to imaginative license, as in the subtly English-inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Curried Crema Taco. That attitude is matched with technique and bold flavors behind the bar, where Mixologist Sam Anderson puts out everything from an innovative modification of the Ramos Gin Fizz (actually shortening execution time) to a cocktail made with al pastor-infused mezcal, Campari, and Sherry. The long, often packed space defies the meticulous professionalism behind the menus, with unabashedly festive splashes of color and sparkling lights.Recommended:
About as far north in Astoria, Queens, as one can get is an unsuspecting industrial building home to 2013 Rising Star Brewer Rich Buceta’s dream. After a long, stressful career in advertising, Buceta opened SingleCut Beersmiths in 2008 as an escape from the boardroom. And from the outset he equipped the brewery with a sizeable 30-barrel system that’s focused on cranking out atypical riffs on classic lagers and ales. Taking liberties—like aging lagers and ales in repurposed rum barrels—makes Buceta’s beers distinct, but it’s his dedication to the craft that yields balanced and approachable brews. Spicy, full bodied, and refreshingly dry, the 19-33 Queens Lagrrr takes influence from both German and Czech Pilsners. Recognizable as a Pilsner, it has a rounder and sweeter body making this a refreshingly unique spin on a classic style.Recommended:
There’s something hushed and quietly alluring about the interior of The Third Man. And it gets even richer as the night goes on and the lights go down in this Lower East Side sister to Edi & the Wolf (think flickering candlelight, unadorned woods, spare touches of scrolling metal). And that’s apt for a place named after a film noir classic, and a fitting setting for the quiet meticulousness of J. Rosser Lomax. Formerly of Rye House and Huckleberry Bar, Lomax has a well-earned authority that comes across in drinks like the Archduke, built on Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, fennel juice, and Cynar, with hand-carved ice and a tangle of fennel “hair.” Savory elements shine—with celery juice in the clean, bracing Altermeister and cucumber juice and dill soda balancing out the Candolini grappa and honey of the Nessun Rimpianto—as does a sense of progressive creativity.Recommended:
The Theater District is the heart of New York City and Paramount Hotel is at the center of it all. The hotel is minutes to Times Square, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Fifth Avenue shopping—making it an ideal stop for travelers exploring the Big Apple. The bright and airy rooms are appointed with modern furniture, and crisp white linens make for a comfortable night’s rest after a day spent exploring the city. The hotel’s intimate dining room Paramount Bar & Grill is perfect for an early breakfast, midday snack, pre-theater dinner or enjoy a late night drink at the bar. If you are looking for something more casual, head over to Corso Coffee to enjoy espresso and coffee, as well as pastries, salads, and paninis. Paramount offers a comfortable and cosmopolitan experience during your stay in New York City.
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, the Westin New York Grand Central offers guests an exceptional stay with modern features and unmatched service. Located in the center of Midtown Manhattan, the hotel is two blocks from Grand Central Terminal and steps away iconic New York City attractions. After a busy day exploring the city or at a business convention, unwind in the hotel’s modern rooms with breathtaking views of the skyline. If you are feeling energized, you can workout in the well equipped fitness studio. Dine at the cotemporary American eatery, The LCL: Bar & Kitchen NYC for selection of seasonal breakfast, lunch, dinner menu items, and a variety of local spirits, organic wines, and craft beers. There is also a grab-and-go breakfast option for days you are on the move.
Aldea is George Mendes’ restaurant-tribute to Portuguese cooking, with a sleek interior designed by Stephanie Goto (Corton). Aldea’s menu features a mix of rustic cuisine and sophisticated haute dishes made modern with the occasional help of hydrocolloids and Michel Bras-style plating touches—the kind of cooking that made Mendes a 2009 New York Rising Star.
Bar Boulud is a temple of charcuterie and classical French dishes that are flawlessly executed with the finest greenmarket produce. The honey-hued tunnel of a restaurant resembles a well-lit wine cellar with comfortable wooden booths and a vast array of house-made charcuterie and pâtés. Gilles Verot’s list of charcuterie (plus some made in-house) and a Burgundy-centric wine list rounds out Bar Boulud’s menu.
From the team that brought you Stanton Social comes Beauty and Essex, a standout luxe-lounge and restaurant in the cheap-drinks tangle of the Lower East Side. Housed in the grand old M. Katz furniture store, and complete with a faux pawn shop in front, Beauty and Essex is two stories of chic grandeur, complete with a spiral staircase leading up to the second floor bar and lounge from the restaurant. 2007 New York Rising Star and Stanton Social Chef and Owner Chris Santos brings his sophisticated global cuisine to the menu here, which is largely occupied by small plates, with a few marquee entrees to satisfy post-dance-floor hunger pangs.
With its exposed brick, dim lighting, and dark wooden beams, Bell Book & Candle has the sleek cosmopolitan look of your typical West Village gastro-temple. But looks can be deceiving, especially with 2011 New York Rising Star Sustainability Chef John Mooney—a longtime culinary veteran recently (and ardently) converted to the cause of sustainability—at the helm. Mooney not only oversees Bell Book & Candle’s ultra-seasonal, eclectic American menu, but tends to the rooftop aeroponic garden that supplies ingredients for everything from a tender Live Salad (dressed with a bright, creamy thousand island) to perfectly cooked halibut with a summery succotash.Recommended:
Blue Hill is the West Village outpost of Chef Dan Barber’s straight-from-the-farm cooking style. Despite the distance between the restaurant and its purveyors, the feeling of country cooking pervades. Barber enables diners to pay attention to the ingredients on an entirely new level with dishes like summer bean salad with purslane and pistachios and grass-fed lamb with Stone Barns bok choy. The overall effect is a fine dining experience that exhibits the journey of preparation to plate—by way of the farm. 2009 Rising Star Sommelier Claire Paparazzo provides a superbly organized wine list outfitted with a number of outstanding local organic and biodynamic wines.
If Blue Hill at Stone Barns exemplifies anything, it’s that it takes real exertion to leave food alone in just the right way. Here in the bosom of the countryside, a world away from the city’s cacophony, Chef Dan Barber follows his products from harvest or slaughter to the diner’s plate. With careful poaching and braising, and a delicate touch at dressing ingredients, Barber presents the diner a meal to match the bucolic atmosphere of the converted barn on the Rockefeller Estate.
Bouley’s interior transports the diner to a French countryside estate, with tapered candles, a gold-leaf vaulted ceiling, and oil paintings from French Impressionism lining the walls. The flagship of David Bouley’s expanding restaurant empire, Bouley is an important New York restaurant destination. With a culinary pedigree informed by some of the great French masters, Bouley showcases a native’s authority for French technique, while still incorporating Asian and especially Japanese ingredients and techniques. Bouley’s menu is seriously market-focused, geared toward highlighting seasonal ingredients in classical and arrestingly innovative preparations.
A semi-open kitchen runs the length of the long, airy, and elegant dining room of Boulud Sud, and it’s here that 2011 StarChefs.com New York Rising Star Chef Aaron Chambers creates cuisine that transports the Boulud standard to the golden coastline of the Riviera. Chambers’s quiet politeness belies his imagination and self-discipline, which churn out creations that showcase both classic technique—as in a bright, toothsome saffron and lemon linguini, which the chef pairs with local razor clams—and invention, as in a cedar-wood-wrapped rouget with layers of fennel, shallots, and espelette. Like the Riviera, it’s correctly posh, and just so subtly exotic.
Brushstroke combines culinary reverence with downtown chic, a combination we’ve come to expect from David Bouley. It’s a triple threat restaurant (with excellent food, wine, and cocktails), a challenge to consume in one visit. So even if you’re courses deep into the restaurant’s kaiaseki menu (courtesy of 2009 StarChefs.com New York Rising Star Isao Yamada with sake pairings, you’ve got to save room for the cocktails. Gen Yamamoto might be a quiet mixologist, but he’s a standout in a city like New York, where cocktail culture verges more often toward the boozy end of “spirit-forward” (not that we’re complaining). At Brushstroke, Yamamoto continues his legacy of produce-focused, well-balanced drinks. More often savory and vegetal, with a common trend of umami and an unapologetic faith in vodka, Yamamoto’s drinks are a lesson in the power of subtlety.
Casa Mono looks plucked from Spain, its dark tables enclosed by lemon walls, shelves stocked with wine, and a prominent bar sending out delectable small plates with selections of wine and beer. The menu showcases a reverence for robust, elemental cuisine, making this serious Catalan food destination from prolific Restaurateur and Chef Mario Batali. Dishes like bone marrow with radishes, razor clams a la plancha, and pulpo with fennel and grapefruit, paired with variously crisp, lush, and supple Spanish wines, create an authentically satisfying tapas experience.
The entrance to Chef-owner and 2005 New York Rising Star Shea Gallante’s rustic new home is a cavernous foyer, leading up to a sunlit back room with sanded floors, unpolished chairs, and yellow and orange walls. It’s handsome Italian charm, a preview of Gallante’s thoughtfully refined farm-to-table Italian menu.
2006 Rising Star Chef Paul Liebrandt’s temple of modern French cuisine has a kind of two-toned calm, a simplicity that belies the creative conceptual play of the chef’s cuisine. Even as they vault into conceptual whimsy, Liebrandt’s dishes showcase his firm grounding in French technique, as well as a pervasive emphasis in purity of flavor. Master Sommelier Shaun Paul expands upon these flavors, pairing with Corton’s aptly Burgundy-heavy wine list.
The recently redone interior of David Burke’s eponymous New York hub has the warmth of a townhouse with the polished veneer of New York fine dining. The menu at David Burke is playful, seasonal, and innovative, showcasing the visually stimulating architectural style of Burke’s Modern American cuisine. The menu reflects the innate flexibility of American cuisine, incorporating international flavors into classical preparations, as in the pan-seared turbot with truffle ricotta gnocchi and wild mushroom cappuccino and the diver scallops, seared and served with sea urchin tempura.
At Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant, the springboard for many a great young chef, chandeliers, Limoges porcelain tiles, and bronze wall sconces are the only concession to the formal French dining experience. Daniel’s modern French cuisine is conceptually untraditional, bringing the rustic intimacy of Boulud’s Lyon farm childhood to a kitchen stocked with the highest grade ingredients and a serious respect for their integrity. Dishes like supple veal tenderloin with sweetbreads-stuffed tomatoes and butter-poached abalone exhibit the elegant, playful, and subtly inquisitive style that makes Daniel one of the most influential kitchens in the country, if not the world. A thoughtful wine list and rich, playful dessert offerings round out this unabashedly serious dining experience.
Danji softens its industrially spare décor with a pervasive visual calm: nude wooden communal tables sit under filament light bulbs, surrounded by exposed brick walls and white ceiling beams. It’s the ideal setting for 2011 Rising Star Chef Hooni Kim, a quiet, ambitious chef who unites his Korean heritage and rigorous French training in small, sophisticated, shareable plates. And even though the menu is divided into traditional and modern Korean cuisine, each has notes of Western technique and flavors; the "Danji" traditional short ribs come with cipollini onions and pine nuts, while delectably rich pork belly sliders (a savvy wink to Western palates) are spiked with Korea’s ubiquitous gochu pepper.
Nestled in the West Village is this seemingly modest Italian restaurant, its open kitchen facing a cozily narrow dining room where guests can watch Chef Gabe Thompson prepare house-made pastas and authentic ragús. A wine list of small-producing Italian vineyards complements Chef Thompson’s seasonal menu, which can be both reverently authentic and boldly innovative. Thompson’s toothsome fresh pastas anchor the menu in tradition, while offerings like linguini with sea urchin and chilies or charred octopus paired with chorizo and chicory confidently assert the chef’s global culinary perspective. At a stunningly young age, co-owner , sommelier, and 2011 New York Rising Star Restaurateur Joe Campanale is feeding the city well with Dell’Anima, L’Artusi, and the recently opened Anfora.
Amidst the pageantry and preciousness of its gilt interior, Del Posto offers rustic Italian fare with fresh, contemporary influences. The restaurant showcases the evolution of Italian cuisine in America, mixing elements of fine dining like embellished service and spectacle with a menu anchored in Mario Batali’s seasoned Italian pedigree. Innovations on Italian classics include spaghetti paired with fresh crab and jalapeño, while generous portions of lobster risotto and tender rib-eye with sautéed basil and eggplant reflect the restaurant’s firm foothold in “Cucina Classica.”
With her cozy, 18-seat restaurant Dirt Candy, 2009 Rising Star Sustainability Award winner Chef Amanda Cohen has created a chef-driven vegetarian restaurant that rejects the meat-substitutions and dietary philosophies of conventional vegetarian dining. Cohen gives heft to vegetable-centric dishes with rich, texturally layered preparations and liberal use of the deep fryer. The resulting menu is high-concept and distinctive: earthy, creamy portobello mushroom mousse takes on the characteristics of a silky paté while crispy tofu is paired with broccolini and orange beurre blanc.
From its brick walls, uncovered tables, and marked decorative restraint, everything about Dovetail feels precise, especially the menu from Rising Star Chef John Fraser, which features modern American (read: selectively eclectic) greenmarket-heavy, intelligent cuisine, which Sommelier Amanda Reade Sturgeon matches with equally creative pairings that can range from cider and stout to classic Chianti.
One of a handful of Brooklyn restaurants to boast a Michelin star, Dressler is one of the major outer borough upscale dining destinations. Dressler is the third concept of 2009 Rising Star Restaurateur Colin Devlin, following Williamsburg hotspots DuMont and DuMont Burger. With dark wood booths, candlelit tables, gold chandeliers, and brick walls Dressler has an intimate, romantic vibe. Chef Polo Dobkin cooks highly seasonal food in a warm, upscale casual environment.
With a beautiful cookbook fresh off the presses, James Beard-ed chef and pastry chef, and a third Michelin star twinkling brightly in its atmosphere, Eleven Madison Park is in a position to (elegantly, quietly) take the lead as standard-bearer in modern cuisine. A wide, bright space with high ceilings and clean lines, the Danny Meyer crown jewel seems more aesthetically suited to the relaxed and refined than anything aggressively innovative. And yet it’s the setting for 2006 StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef Daniel Humm’s culture of seasonal, artistically ingredient-focused cuisine, complemented by 2010 StarChefs.com Rising Star Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton’s conceptually playful desserts. And in a day and age when sophisticated cocktails are served in ironically déclassé “faux dives” and suspiciously dark, semi-subterranean drinks caverns, knocking back one of 2011 StarChefs.com Rising Star Mixologist’s Leo Robitschek’s delicious drinks at the Eleven Madison Park bar is a like a vacation in civility.
The long tradition of Gramercy Tavern as a New York institution has neither slowed nor diverted the continual refinement of its farm-to-table, modern American cuisine. Executive Chef and 2007 Rising Star Michael Anthony formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill, puts out a roster of highly seasonal, conceptually efficient dishes. Summer flounder comes simply dressed with briny mussels and peppery mizuna and a dish of sweetbreads is lightened with seasonal greens, capers, and lemon. A nine-course seasonal tasting can be paired with the restaurant’s thorough wine list. While the restaurant attends to an enormous number of covers per night, Anthony is nonetheless deeply involved in community support and an advocate of culinary education.
2011 Rising Star Chef Vikas Khanna, whose “Holy Kitchens” series explores the ritual and cultural meaning of global cuisine, could have no better temple for his own culinary worship than Junoon (“passion” in Hindi). Tall carved wooden archways, flowery stonework, beige tones, and dark woods give the space a kind of church-ly theatrical calm. Into this comes Khanna’s cuisine, respectfully modernized Indian dishes that demonstrate five distinct Indian cooking methods and beg the question why there isn’t more Indian fine dining that attempts to parse—and celebrate—its traditions.
The grandeur at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship restaurant is apparent upon the diner’s arrival, befitting for an institution that has launched many important culinary careers. The elegance of the restaurant interior creates a canvass for the cuisine of the prolific Vongerichten, whose modern French is harmoniously interwoven with Asian flavors. Vongerichten’s judicious use of spice and Asian ingredients creates an unparalleled depth of flavor throughout the menu. Located at Columbus Circle in the lobby level of Donald Trump's International Hotel and Tower, restaurant Jean Georges is among New York City's very small circle of 4-star restaurants. Designer Adam Tihany has created a visually stunning space, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Central Park and a soothing palette of taupe, ecru and silver. The restaurant is divided into two dining rooms: the main dining room at Jean Georges and Nougatine, a slightly more casual dining room with a sophisticated, hip bar scene and an exhibition kitchen.
In the seafood temple of Le Bernardin, replete with wood paneling and faint ivory linens, glitz takes a back seat to polished sophistication. The menu is similarly uncluttered, as celebrated Chef Eric Ripert substitutes purity of flavor for culinary flourishes. The seafood-dominated menu is categorized by the degree of intervention between chef, fish, and diner, with options like “Almost Raw” and “Barely Touched.” Diners can easily reap the fruits of Ripert’s delicate, judicious touch. “Lightly Cooked” Red snapper, for example, comes with a zucchini-mint and coriander compote and an “Ultra Rare” scallop is accompanied by faintly oniony lily bulb and minty shiso leaf. Pastry Chef and 2006 Rising Star Michael Laiskonis produces extremely refined and elegant desserts, which despite being deceptively simple—like the chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt on a crostini—are deeply satisfying.
With its sloping lawn of a roof and glass-encased, angular, minimalist dining room, Lincoln is a futuristic stand-out in the sprawling theater of Lincoln Center Plaza. Behind the scenes is 2005 New York Rising Star Chef Jonathan Benno—formerly second-in-command to Thomas Keller and head of the Per Se kitchen—who, along with Pastry Chef (and fellow Per Se alum) Richard Capizzi, works to perfect the restaurant’s Italian menu. The creative Capizzi is Italian to the core, but knows how to coif his pastry to fit seamlessly into New York dining.
Undulating, wood-like patterns gleam on the walls of Marea, giving the space the feeling of being under water even as waiters glide to and fro on terra firma. And that’s apt for this temple to Italian coastal cuisine, captained by Michael White, with second in command chef de cuisine Jared Gadbaw in the kitchen. Gadbaw works nimbly with the products of Italy’s four coastlines, but he isn’t afraid of giving dishes an accent of elsewhere, whether by adding a dose of shisito pepper to roasted Hudson Valley chicken, or simply taking a deeper dive into the Mediterranean pantry for his olive-oil poached branzino. Sommelier Richard Anderson is on hand to pair from the ample Italian wine list, with a dip here or there into French territory.
At 2010 New York Rising Star Marc Forgione’s eponymous restaurant, formerly known as Forge, the son of Chef Larry Forgione cultivates a bold interpretation of new American cuisine. With experience under the likes of Laurent Tourondel and Kazuto Matsusaka, Chef Forgione creates dishes that are grounded in technique but imaginative and approachable, like kampachi tartare with avocado and American caviar or scallops with heirloom vegetables and aged balsamic. Walls of reclaimed cedar and suspended lanterns aglow with candlelight give the space a vintage country feel and echo the chef’s dedication to relaxed sophistication.
In the restaurant legacy of David Chang, Momofuku Ssam Bar falls into the fun, casual dining category, with fewer seats than diners and a tendency to turn over quickly. The restaurant unabashedly caters to the flexibility of its self-identified “American” cuisine, which actually incorporates heavy Korean and other Asian elements with tinges of the American south. The menu changes daily, giving imagination free reign to constantly redevelop highly flavorful but well-balanced fusion cuisine.
Ensconced in the bustle of the Theater District is the sleek modern oasis Mr. Robata, where neutral tones, naked wood, and dark lighting create an ambiance of pre-curtain hush. Sutton Foster may be killin’ it on Broadway, but Chef Masaki Nakayama is the star on this particular stage. Influenced by French chefs, Paul Liebrandt, and sundry cherry-picked international techniques and ingredients, Chef Nakayama creates polished dishes within the oft-maligned “fusion” category: sushi is almost always prepared with a twist. Raw tuna makes nice with buttery escargot, and an Italian technique for grilling baby octopus gets a tomato salsa and shiso pesto finish.
The cuisine of Perilla exhibits the cosmopolitan culinary perspective of 2009 Rising Star Community Award Winner Chef Harold Dieterle, whose extensive traveling and training in the kitchens of Spain, Thailand, and even that of his own Italian grandmother, imbued him with an open-minded love of world cuisine. At Perilla, a neatly appointed restaurant longer than it is wide, diners reap the benefits of Dieterle’s well-traveled palate with a menu that incorporates the chef’s strengths, ambitions, and tested favorites. The menu reflects the distinctive “urban neighborhood” feel of the restaurant, where local steaks and artisan cheeses appear to great effect alongside Korean and Thai ingredients.
The self-described “urban interpretation” of The French Laundry in Yountville, Per Se is clearly a Thomas Keller venue. Each day at Per Se features two nine-course tasting menus, a chef’s tasting menu and a vegetable tasting, with small, meticulously crafted plates that showcase Keller’s deep-seated faith in the connection between personal integrity and perfect cuisine. The experience is complete with Pastry Chef Elwyn Boyles’ carefully crafted and beautifully plated desserts that play with classic American flavors, like sarsaparilla and popcorn. Sommelier Michel Couvreux expertly pairs both expected and unexpected wines, and shares her thoughts on the pairings in an understated and well-spoken manner befitting the restaurant.
Porter House New York is Chef Michael Lomonaco’s homage to a New York dining institution, the steakhouse. True to the steakhouse formula at its best, Porter House offers a well-rounded selection of steaks, including USDA dry-aged prime beef, and a dependably strong seafood menu. Either at the elegant, backlit central bar or tucked into the warm elegance of the wood and leather-outfitted dining room, diners at Porter House can easily harken back to simpler days in New York dining.
Recette is the kind of restaurant where meticulous prep is set to an iPod's rap and rock soundtrack. Décor is spare without being Spartan—simple wooden tables and a few sconces are 2011 New York Rising Star Chef Jesse Schenker’s concession to ambiance in an unapologetically food-focused space. Buffalo sweetbreads might seem tongue-in-cheek, but Schenker is dead serious about his cuisine, which is elementally sophisticated with strong, well-sculpted flavors and textures, and a few luxurious turns (as in a lobster orzo with hunks of meaty lobster, spicy chorizo and a sinfully generous supply of summer truffles). Pastry Chef Christina Lee follows up with sophisticated flavor play of her own, and we’re eager to see where she takes it from here.
If you haven’t been to Red Rooster yet, it’s time to hop on the 2 (or 3) train. A bustling, busy mix of Harlem culture and eclectic modern design, Red Rooster is the hip home away from home you never knew you had. Its Southern-eclectic menu, the culinary brainchild of Marcus Samuelsson, is currently overseen by Michael Garrett, an ambitious chef who’s worked his way through the ranks with Samuelsson and is now working to make Red Rooster the well-oiled machine it can be. Garrett’s earned his executive status, putting out dishes that marry the rich legacy of Southern and soul food with the sophistication of his years of training and the American eclecticism that has become Samuelsson’s culinary trademark.
Ebullient Chef Cesare Casella is executive chef of this Rosi family recreation of an authentic Italian salumeria. House-made cured meats are on hand at the bustling meat counter, while the back of the house features Casella’s refined-rustic trattoria-style dishes.
The “beef, whole beef, and nothing but beef” philosophy of Takashi combines the eponymous head chef’s Korean heritage and Japanese upbringing, doing for (sustainably raised, antibiotic-free) beef—and innards—what sushi does for fish. Hardly for the faint of heart, or stomach, Chef Takashi Inoue’s menu offers everything from raw liver, third stomach, and flash-boiled Achilles tendon to rib-eye and seared tongue sushi. The clean, semi-industrial interior looks like a modern Japanese izakaya—the perfect place for an off-cuts lover to test his or her mettle against the creativity and endless variety of Inoue’s way with all things beef. Vegetarians might miss out, but they’ll have extra room for the salted caramel soft serve with roasted green tea.
In the heavy foot traffic and shopping bag scuffle of Union Square, Tocqueville is all the more welcome, a nerves-calming oasis of warm tones and restrained elegance. But what’s most inviting about the restaurant is what’s behind the burners: Chef Jason Lawless is a young, confident chef to watch. His take on the restaurant’s modern American-European menu is full of clever integrations and elevations of flavor, with deft use of aromatics like lemon balm and star anise that brighten already addictive flavor profiles.Recommended:
Shunning the overdressed exoticism of Curry Row, Chef Hemant Mathur’s Tulsi is all light and air, with a few elegant touches—rich woods and sparkling lanterns. Like his Michelin-starred Devi, Tulsi’s menu doesn’t break boundaries, but rather emphasizes regional flavors and products, in dishes like tender Kashmiri-style goat paired with kachumber salad, and chewy, surprisingly savory banana dumplings bathed in a rich, earthy gravy of figs, cashew, and tomato. Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni’s desserts evoke the faraway flavors of India—nuts, fruits, spices, and herbs—with an irresistibly maternal hominess.
A long bar astride a square dining room with overhanging lights: the simplicity of Wasan’s interior is as much about confidence as restraint. Chefs Ryota Kitagawa and Kakusaburo Sakurai are culinary veterans of both Japan and New York City, and it’s here that they coalesce their experiences and expertise, blending tradition and innovation, and creating a modern Japanese cuisine by way of seasonal New York product. The resulting dishes, which hemisphere-straddling Sommelier Toshiyuki Koizumi pairs as expertly with wine or sake, range from ingredient-focused minimalism to creative (and careful) compositions.