Best changing of the guard: Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Cafe



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OTHER NOMINEES: Michael Citarella, Freemans; Amanda Freitag, ; Ryan Skeen, Irving Mill

A classic restaurant is much more than the sum of its signature dishes. Chef Carmen Quagliata, who gracefully took over the kitchen from Michael Romano, beautifully executes the 23-year-old eatery's customer go-tos (tuna fillet with wasabi mashed potatoes, lobster shepherd's pie), but it's his additions—buoyant ricotta gnocchi, a cold-smoked shell steak—that made this perennial favorite No. 1 all over again. Union Square Cafe 21 E 16th St between Fifth Ave and Union Sq West (212-243-4020)

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