New York might be the storied urban ideal of America’s melting pot phenomenon. But we’re beginning to notice it tastes a lot more like a stew—a roiling, frothy mixture of chunky components that toss around in the same metaphorical broth (of culture and competition, and subway aromatics), but pose no real threat of dissolving. After all, if the city really were a melting pot, wouldn’t the patchwork menus of its German, Korea, and Chinatowns and myriad “Little” enclaves (India, Italy, Manila, Pakistan, Odessa, etc.) have morphed into a flagless, homogenous “New York cuisine” years ago?
They haven’t, and they won’t, because New York thrives on identity—or rather, on an ensemble of identities, plus Starbucks, living side by side in (uncomfortably) close quarters. And this is nowhere more obvious than the world of food, which is why more and more chefs and pastry chefs are reaching for this very New York commodity—identity—as much for authenticity of culinary expression as to help them bubble to the surface of the great urban goulash.
So whether it’s ethnic and regional cuisines unabashedly celebrating their pantries, fine-dining outposts putting microscopes on every layer of tradition and technique, chefs going as hyper-local as they can go, sommeliers bringing everything but the actual terroir to the table, or eclectic American cuisine coming into its culinary own, New York in 2011 is loaded with well-articulated, pan-patriotic flavors. It’s a hearty stew, and we’re bibbed and ready to eat.
A Voce Madison is practically an archetype of culturally self-aware contemporary Italian. Done up in comfortable neutral and earth tones, the relaxed elegance of the interior neither lives up to nor distracts from the culinary experience it houses. Rising Star Chef Missy Robbins prefers simplicity and technical perfection to complexity for its own sake and deftly explores the terrain of the modern Italian milieu. Wine Director Olivier Flosse, who oversees the sizeable wine lists at both A Voce’s, can pair a pleasantly puckering Aperol-laced cocktail for one dish and wax poetic on Sicilian Chardonnays for the next.Recommended:
Nearing the end of its fifth year at the St. Regis, Adour proves once again that Alain Ducasse is synonymous with culinary luxury. What comes out of the kitchen of Adour is nuanced, sophisticated modern French cuisine, laced with a few winks to the unapologetically fabulous—thanks to Chef de Cuisine Julien Jouhannaud. Desserts from 2008 New York Rising Star Pastry Chef Sandro Micheli follow the elegance with thoughtfully executed whimsy, as in his ever-evolving Strawberry Composition. The interior of the restaurant is similarly subdued, rejecting the grandiose and decorative for a softer, viticulture-inspired update on classic luxury.
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:
A posh Basque eatery by way of Chelsea, with a Hawaiian chef at the helm, Bar Basque marries more than a couple disparities with notable success. Although the long, dark bar, wide-open dining room, and glass ceiling might give the impression of a “scene” more than of cuisine, Chef Yuhi Fujinaga creates plates that showcase both Basque culinary heritage and his own bold palate; a flash-fried farm egg swimming in Idiazabal cheese broth is like haute Basque soul food. Pastry Chef Celeste Reyes offers even more warmth to heat up the big space, with belly-loving desserts like a tender tres leches and an organic egg yolk flan.Recommended:
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:
French bistro by way of Park Slope, Belleville is Chef Fabian Pauta’s homage to the classic, simple cuisine that inspired him to become a chef. Flickering lights, tile floors, burnished mirrors, wooden banquettes, and long windows—through which the feral hipster children of Park Slope will stare at you—set the scene for the chef’s array of bistro classics (read: classy comfort food). Duck confit comes dressed with salty pancetta, sweet balsamic, and bitter arugula; potato salad gets the Provençal treatment with warm goat cheese, black olive and herb vinaigrette, and micro greens.Recommended:
Bosie is a tea parlor for the West Village set. Rejecting the typical frou-frou parlor aesthetic of frills and quaint bric-a-brac, owner (and certified Tea Master) Kiley Holliday goes for a more pared-down and open feel, with bare tables and enough shelf space for the 80 loose-leaf teas on offer. And even though Bosie doesn’t dress itself in the old-school garb, old-school favorites, like the tea service tray, are on hand. Pastry Chef Damien Herrgott, who’s worked in Paris, Italy, and lately at Bouley Bakery in New York, keeps the service sophisticated and fresh, with classic French pastries and tea sandwiches to accompany more complex (and often tea-infused) sweets like his Darjeeling torte and chamomile-infused strawberry éclair.Recommended:
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.
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.
The wide (or wider) open spaces of Tenth Avenue means more natural light can flood into Chef Marc Meyer’s Cookshop, apt for a restaurant that pays aggressive, and refined, homage to the natural roots of cuisine. “Farmers are the original chefs,” or so says the Cookshop website, a testament to Meyer’s efforts to bridge the gap between those overall-ed proto-chefs (and their artisan, cheesemonger-ing brethren) and his own fast-paced modern kitchen. A wide open space of its own, Cookshop is a sleek corner restaurant softened by tall windows, tea lights and earth tones—and anchored by a massive oven and mouthwatering rotisserie. Pastry Chef Amanda Cook compliments Meyer’s craftsman-farmer adulation with gently rustic desserts that dabble in nostalgia and pop with the bright acidity of market fresh fruit (like the white nectarines and blackberries in her changing Market Fruit Galette).Recommended:
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.
Tom Colicchio’s masculine, mod-industrial house of ingredient-driven cuisine, Craft, has proven itself a reliable breeding ground for industry greatness (just ask 2010 Rising Star Chef James Tracey).Recommended:
In the world of Tom Colicchio, seasonal, simple food doesn’t mean under-examined—and Craftbar, casual sister to restaurant Craft, is no exception. A long bar and a sleek red-splashed dining room create a kind of masculine-chic setting for Chef Lauren Hirschberg’s ingredient-driven cuisine. Although Hirschberg’s career has taken him to Vermont, Jersey, and even the Virgin Islands, the chef draws inspiration from the Craft family, Colicchio and former Craft Chef Damon Wise. And Hirschberg’s cuisine—market-fresh sophistication with elegant contours—is exquisite proof of his food-family heritage.Recommended:
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.
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.
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.
It’s clear upon entering The Fat Radish that white brick walls, flickering tea lights, and varnished wooden tables are all the décor this softly-industrial British restaurant needs. That’s because co-chefs Nick Wilber and Ben Towill are more focused on redefining “British” cuisine on American shores. While their menu isn’t strictly British, at least in the territorial sense, it does a wonderful job mixing many of the marquee flavors and products of the British pantry with local, seasonal produce and refined technique, resulting in a menu that’s lighter and far more nuanced than anything New York’s tasted of UK cuisine in years.Recommended:
Hurricane Club lives up to the tropical (but thankfully not the destructive) in its name—a luminous cosmopolitan space with carved wood, natural colors, and white-jacketed waiters create an urban twist on Polynesian chic. In the midst of the scene is Lawrence Knapp, a chef with experience ranging from Park Avenue under Craig Koketsu to Florence’s Ristorante Ricchi—which is why Knapp is comfortable playing with Hurricane Club’s border-crossing pantry, whether he’s giving his Shanghai Lobster an Italian finish or judiciously dousing proteins with jet-setting flavors like coconut, guava, Thai basil, and sriracha sauce.Recommended:
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.
Chef Masato Nishihara is neither a Buddhist nor a vegetarian, but you couldn’t tell by eating his shojin cuisine at Kajitsu, with its exclusively vegetarian pantry built on the principles of Zen. With the kind of quiet modesty that belies intense focus, Chef Nishihara creates kaiseki dishes out of each season’s bounty. The result is both a gift to the diner and a revelation of seasonal identity. What differentiates Chef Nishihara, who learned the art and craft of kaiseki in his native Japan, from other chefs is his ability to create compositions that are both elemental and unified. The whole dish transcends the sum of its parts, but each element—whether it be a fried mountain yam or a chilled piece of nama-fu—is distinctly essential to the harmony of the whole.
Even in the sleek, art-deco demure of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, with its muted lighting and angular intimacy, Pastry Chef Salvatore Martone’s sense of play and imagination shine. Martone is a Robuchon veteran (with previous posts at Joël Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas), and he works within the confines of the chef’s vision, all without sacrificing a bright—and technically girded—sense of whimsy and beauty. His desserts have an Alice and Wonderland-like quality to them; Champagne sabayon is encased in a golden bubble, and banana cotton candy forms a “rabbit hole” down which the rich components of the simple-sounding “La Banane” can be discovered.Recommended:
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.
Diving straight into homage territory is a risky business. But Lyon, “New York’s first true bouchon” doesn’t imitate so much as gently update, bringing the rich, rustic, familiar culture and cuisine of its certified (really) Lyonnaise forefathers into ever-so-slightly more exotic relief. Waiters decked in authentic garb skirt around the restaurant space, which is cozy and inviting, with warm woods, chalkboard specials, and low—romantically low—golden lighting. Chef Chris Leahy completes the homage with reserved twists on the culinary culture he loves, carefully incorporating new dimensions (and wisely abiding by some key traditions) into classic (and decidedly anti-Nouvelle) bouchon cuisine.Recommended:
If you’re Midtown-bound and looking for an even healthier alternative to take-out sushi, Mai (Sushi My Way) has a perfectly serviceable answer—a Japanese deli. Helmed by Chef Miki Willis, who likes to push Japanese flavors well beyond their traditional borders, the deli (and sister restaurant) are driven by a dedication to nutritional transparency. So whether you’re looking for a quick sushi fix or want to sit down to an omakase sushi plate, Mai has fresh, eco-friendly options.Recommended:
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.
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:
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.
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:
At New York Central, a characteristically polished hotel restaurant space overlooking the urban twinkles of the east 40s, New York native Chef Christian Ragano does chic comfort cuisine with a twist. From the house-made freeze dried (and then fried) corn that is part of the multi-tiered flavor-structure in an unbelievably smooth—and dairy free—summer corn soup, to the Mediterranean touches given to a spot-on shrimp and grits, Ragano is just beginning to flex his creative muscles.Recommended:
Niko is what happens when serious sushi meets Soho. Owner Coby Levi eschews traditionally restrained Japanese décor for a busier urban chic, will tall leather banquettes, a second floor loft, and walls of metal and wood. Where the atmosphere is trendy, Chef Hiro Sawatari keep the sushi precise, top quality, and most often green, in accordance with the standards of Monterey Bay Aquarium. James London and Marina Schulze share ownership of hot entrées—injecting sophistication with enough fun (think beef jerky with short ribs) and a mix of flavor profiles. In one dish, Japan meets the South by way of smoky collard greens and sansho-glazed pork cheek.Recommended:
After inheriting Northeast Kingdom from its owner (who built the funky, chunky wood and vinyl interior with his own hands), Chef Kevin Adey has worked hard at transforming it into a culinary destination, and an anchor of the growing neighborhood (stop by Kings County Distillery for some after-dinner moonshine). Adey’s food does the kind of smart, rustic American turns you’d expect of a Brooklyn outlier, with more than enough polish to assuage lost Manhattanites. Mixologist Brooke Hoffine keeps diners fortified for the journey home with a cocktail list steeped in fresh fruit, spices, and a lighter, naturalistic take on the boozy-bartending trend.Recommended:
He might have training in French and Japanese culinary techniques, but 2011 New York Rising Star Adam Schop is making his mark on New York City with his passion for South America. And he’s not going small-scale, either. Nuela is a big, bold space, with long communal tables and a deep red and black motif—a chic setting suited to Schop’s flavor-packed, large-format dishes. French training sings in dishes like Arroz con Pato, where a triple-threat-serving of duck steals the show (thanks especially to confit treatment and a rich dose of foie gras). But Schop really shines when he spikes an addictive, smoked Peruvian chicken with creamy Peruvian huancaina sauce.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:
The southern-twanged follow-up to ultra trendy Freeman’s, Peels swaps its brother restaurant’s manly cabin feel for an airy two stories of high ceilings, light woods, and natural green accents. The culinary complement to this atmospheric hospitality comes courtesy of chefs (and life partners) Ginger Pierce Madson and Preston Madson (who do double duty at Freeman’s). They pay apt homage to the south without diving belly-first into comfort food. Charcuterie is house-made, along with the jalapeño jam you spread on it. Mixologist Yana Volfson works as comfortably in spirits-driven as farm-to-bar mixology, delivering the final touch to Peels easy-livin’ with cocktails like the deliciously bitter Perfect Old Pal.Recommended:
Quattro Gastronomia Italiana is as sleek and formally correct as you’d expect a Trump Hotel restaurant to be, with two floors, pine green brick columns, and white tablecloths weighed down with heavy silver. For such a power-lunch-ready atmosphere, which Chef Matthew Oetting meets with full confidence, Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour is surprisingly soft spoken, working quietly to create sweet finishing touches to the restaurant’s seasonal Italian menu. He’s especially strong with fruits, which he incorporates into light, texturally contrasting desserts full of color and flavor.Recommended:
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.
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.
There are lots of reasons to go to Vandaag. One of them is the space, where a funky, sleek modernism feels like what “futuristic” meant to 1960s Holland. Another is the bacon-apple-potato heaven that is “Hete Bliksem (Hot Lightning).” And still another, and extremely compelling reason, is the drinks menu. Compiled by seasoned Mixologist Katie Stipe, who’s done turns at Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge, among others, the menu complements the restaurant’s Northern European theme, like the Beef Short Ribs with Savory Poppy Granola from (now departed) Chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark. Stipe’s list of genevers and akvavits might frighten the caraway and juniper-wary, but she uses the spice and structure of her base spirits nimbly, variously calming and playing up the heat, licorice, and pine to convert non-believers to the camp of Skol. If you don’t feel like going full force with a horseradish and dill-infused aquavit, try something like the Spice Tree, which plays up the earth and heat of aquavit with ras el hanout, and softens the whole thing with lemon, apple syrup, and egg white.Recommended:
Dining at Veritas is like a slick, Flatiron version of dining in your own (extremely well-supplied) wine cellar in Nice. But with a new set of faces behind the burners, including Chef Sam Hazen and Chef de Cuisine Alexander Williamson (who join head Sommelier Ruben Sans Ramiro), the Veritas experience is evolving. Pastry Chef Emily Wallendjack fits right into the mold, with pastry that embraces both elegance and simplicity without delving into modernism. She excels at sophisticated hominess, as in her lighter-than-air peach cobbler and a satisfyingly smoky chèvre cheesecake with charred strawberries.Recommended:
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.
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:
While Western chefs explore the Japanese pantry like so many knife-toting kids in a candy store, chef-owners George Ruan and Jack Wei of the East Village’s Yuba are busy incorporating Western staples, like foie gras, truffle, and even sweet corn, into their self-described “Nouveaux Japanese” cuisine. Between 20-year veteran Wei and ambitious newcomer Ruan, the menu is as inventive as it is meticulous, whether the chefs are upping the savory ante with rich foie and an umami-rich kombu dashi or playing up the sweetness of meaty toro against the briney pop of sturgeon caviar. Earth tones, paper lanterns, and a clean wooden design create a scene-setting, palate-whetting quiet anticipation.Recommended:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Because Gilt is the home of two previous Rising Stars (Christopher Lee (2007) and Paul Liebrandt (2006) Chef Justin Bogle had big culinary shoes to fill—and he did, earning him the 2010 New York Rising Star Chef Award. Bogle creates high-concept dishes that reflect a Michel-Bras-inspired naturalism. The space is luxurious and historic, where Bogle’s aptly lauded technique with the foie gras with kumquat mostarda or the Middle Eastern-inspired lamb loin with vadouvan and preserved lemon.
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:
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.
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.
The opulent purple and red interior of Le Cirque announces the restaurant's unabashed commitment to the formal, pampered dining experience. Having spawned such culinary greats as Daniel Boulud, Rick Moonen, and Alain Sailhac (ancestors of the New York dining scene) the kitchen at legendary Le Cirque is now home to 2007 Rising Star Chef Craig Hopson. Le Cirque is among a precious few holdovers from a lost age in New York dining, owing largely to renowned restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, and is now among the standard-setting institutions of New York. Wherever a diner finds his or her place in its 16,000 square feet of space, Le Cirque is likely to return the favor in culinary turns of emphatic indulgence. Hopson has been at the helm of the establishment for years now, and with dishes like escargot with gruyère gnocchi and foie gras au torchon with strawberries and balsamic, he demonstrates his handle on the legacy of gourmet finesse for which Le Cirque is known and loved.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recommended by Chef Michael Garrett of Red Rooster
Recommended by Chef Chris Leahy of Lyon
Recommended by Chef Lauren Hirschberg of Craftbar
Recommended by Chefs Ginger Madson and Preston Madson of Peels
Recommended by Pastry Chef Shuna Lydon of Peels
Recommended by Chef Vikas Khanna of Junoon
Recommended by Chef Hillary Sterling of A Voce
Recommended by Chef Ryota Kitagawa of Wasan
Recommended by Chef Chris Jaeckle of Ai Fiori
Recommended by Pastry Chef Damien Herrgott of Bosie Tea Parlor
Recommended by Pastry Chef Christina Lee of Recette
Recommended by Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni of Tulsi
Recommended by Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni of Tulsi
Recommended by Chef Kakusaburo Sakurai of Wasan
Recommended by Pastry Chef Amanda Cook of Cookshop
Recommended by Chef Aaron Chambers of Boulud Sud
Recommended by Chef Jesse Schenker of Recette and Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle of Corton
Recommended by Pastry Chef Jenny McCoy of Craft
Recommended by Chef Hemant Mathur of Tulsi
Recommended by Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni of Tulsi
Recommended by Chef John Mooney of Bell Book & Candle
Recommended by Chef Mike Camplin of Mulberry Project