Best of the rest
= Cheap (or a really good deal)
Mon Dec 8 2008
PIZZA, BURGERS AND FRIES
Burger at Irving Mill
Chef Ryan Skeen’s spectacular reprise of the burger he perfected at Resto is even more decadent here. The wildly juicy, loosely packed handful of aged flap meat is made all the richer with beef cheeks and, yes, lard. Enveloping it all: a veil of Irish cheddar.
116 E 16th St between Park Ave South and Irving Pl (212-254-1600). $15.
Duck-fat fries at the Harrison
These are as addictive as crack and nearly as bad for you. The super-luxurious nibbles arrive swaddled in a napkin-lined bowl with lemony mayo for dipping. Order more than one mound for the table to avoid battling over the last golden bits.
335 Greenwich St at Harrison St (212-274-9310). $8.
Pizza with pepperoni and hot peppers at Lucali
When neophyte pizzaiolo Mark Iacono opened his pie shop in 2006, some called him a Dom DeMarco wanna-be. In his defense, he was good back then, but he’s come into his own since. Lately, he’s been toying with hot peppers—order them with pepperoni (from neighboring Esposito Pork Store) for a circular aria of sweet and zesty flavor.
575 Henry St at 1st Pl, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-858-4086). Eighteen-inch pie for $25.
Sliders at Little Owl
This West Village favorite serves a burger that trumps Shake Shack’s: Prime, juicy La Frieda beef topped with gooey cheese and crisp bacon is perched on a pliant, unrisen-pizza-dough bun.
90 Bedford St at Grove St (212-741-4695). $15.
CARBS (AND THEIR FRIENDS)
Cold noodles at Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop
Despite the ho-hum name, these handmade noodles are a toothsome collision of nuts and crumbled pork, rounded out by cilantro, chilies and a vinegar-soy broth.
775A 49th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (718-633-3090). $4.25.
Muhammara at Tanoreen
If hummus is pita’s best friend, then this mash of walnuts, pomegranate and red peppers is its red-hot lover.
7704 Third Ave at 77th St, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (718-748-5600). $7.50.
Paella Valenciana at Socarrat Paella Bar
If there’s a finer paella in New York City—a plumper bead of rice, a more marvelously caramelized crust—we’ve yet to make its acquaintance. Socarrat’s version features chunks of rabbit and pork rib both beautifully roasted, snails still in their shells and seasonal vegetables.
259 W 19th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-462-1000). $22.
Linguine con le sarde at Convivio
In a perfect world, linguine con le sarde would have the ubiquity of spaghetti carbonara. But in our imperfect world, Michael White’s heaping bowl of sardines, fennel, bread crumbs and golden raisins, mixed with impossibly tender pasta, is perfection in and of itself.
45 Tudor City Pl between First and Second Aves (212-599-5045). $22.
Rosemary raisin bread at Falai Panetteria
A thick, chewy crust protects this bread’s ethereal spun-sugar consistency. Its inspired sweet-earthy combination of raisins and rosemary is a gift that keeps on giving: If you can restrain yourself from eating a loaf in one sitting, it makes absolutely wicked toast.
79 Clinton St at Rivington St (212-777-8956). $4.
Golden nugget potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm
Don’t cut or peel these marble-size beauties; just boil or roast them whole, dress them with butter or olive oil and discover the joy of making each one pop between your teeth.
Union Square Greenmarket, 14th St at Union Sq West (cenyc.org/greenmarket). $6 per pound.
Tarte flambe at the Modern
This typical Alsatian dish may provoke a yawn from the French, but here it sends Americans into rapture. The thin-crust tart with crme frache, onion and applewood-smoked bacon packs flavor into a crisp, creamy package.
9 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-333-1220). $14.
Lychee foie gras at Momofuku Ko
Praising chef David Chang is akin to gilding an already gleaming lily, but indulge us: This floral, fatty dish, which quickly became a signature at Ko, is among the most revelatory things we tasted this year. Succulent lychees rest in a riesling jelly with shards of pine-nut brittle. On top, a mound of frozen foie gras is grated to a feathery dust.
163 First Ave between 10th and 11th Sts (momofuku.com). Served as part of a $100 prix fixe.
Miso-baked bone marrow at Double Crown
Brad Farmerie’s bone marrow is a standout among this restaurant’s many excellent small plates. The chef splits a marrowbone sideways, smears it with sweet miso paste and roasts it. We like the hot, sticky shmear slathered on warm brioche with a sweet-tart dollop of blood-orange marmalade.
316 Bowery at Bleecker St (212-254-0350). $13.
Sweetbreads at James
At stylish, seasonally influenced James, gobstopper-size sweetbreads are pan-crisped and plated with a mlange of fragrant truffles, squash and a port-wine reduction.
605 Carlton Ave at St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-942-4255). $12.
Cherry religieuse at Le Cirque
The double-decker clair filled with cherry custard from former Cirque pastry chef Vincent Jaoura inspired our religieuse devotion. It’s no longer on the menu, but we’ll always worship it.
151 E 58th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-644-0202). $10.
Panna cotta at Union Square Cafe
Chef Carmen Quagliata toys with his panna cotta’s cream base by adding fresh robbiola, a tart and creamy soft Italian formaggio. The result is a velvety dessert with a depth of richness that goes all the way to your toes. Its perfect mate: wild-huckleberry compote.
21 E 16th St between Fifth Ave and Union Sq West (212-243-4020). $9.50.
Pie in a box, Park Avenue Winter
At first glance, this minimalist-in-appearance white-chocolate cube doesn’t say “mama’s pie.” But the first taste tells a different story. A carefully constructed mlange of apple compote, shatteringly crisp pie crust, airy whipped vanilla mascarpone, Medjool date puree and spiced sponge cake somehow delivers all of your memories of what an apple pie should taste like. Someone bring in the Proust reference, stat!
100 E 63rd St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-644-1900). $24 (serves two).
Peanut butter bomb at Cake Shop
Two parts moist chocolate sponge and one part fluffy peanut-butter filling add up to a mouth-jamming, craving-inspiring piece of cake. The fact that it’s vegan allows you to feel smug, not gluttonous.
152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-253-0036). $5.50.
Pretzel-covered sea-salted caramels from Bespoke Chocolates
Chocolate-covered pretzels and salty caramel get married in this brilliant bonbon from chocolatier Rachel Zoe Insler. Oozing, Maldon-salt--spiked caramel is coated in 66 percent dark chocolate, then rolled in Martin’s crushed pretzels. It’s a pairing meant to last.
6 Extra Pl off of E 1st St between Bowery and Second Ave (212-260-7103). $2.25 each.
Rainbow cake at Vegas Diner
The Vegas Diner’s sizable slab—touting five layers of chewy almond-flavored cake—comes covered in ganache and streaked with raspberry jelly. There’s a ton of food coloring, but we challenge you to find a better use for marzipan.
1619 86th St between 16th and 17th Aves, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (718-331-2221). $4.45.
Dumplings at Handmade Noodle Shop
Zheng Lanzhou, the new king of dirt-cheap dumplings, boils pork-and-chive pot stickers till plump, then serves them steaming with ginger-spiked soy sauce.
144 East Broadway between Pike and Rutgers Sts (212-566-6933). Eight for $2.
Ezquites at La Superior
These fat corn kernels are coated with fresh lime juice, crumbly cotija cheese and Mexican mayo, creating a gooey, diet-be-damned indulgence.
295 Berry St at South 2nd St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-5988). $4.
Jerk pork at Boston Jerk City
It’s a Caribbean rarity mastered: fatty jerk pork, burnished deep brown with peppery seasonings and served with a slice of mop-it-up white bread.
1344 Utica Ave at Foster Ave, Flatbush, Brooklyn (718-629-3002). $9.
Sage socca at Nizza
This provenal chickpea flatbread is as delicate as a crpe yet packs a filling punch when sprinkled with onions, sharp pecorino cheese and coarsely chopped sage.
630 Ninth Ave between 44th and 45th Sts (212-956-1800). $8.
Papri chaat at Indus Express
Homemade chips, mango, garbanzo beans, cilantro, potatoes and lentil dumplings are spiked with fiery spices, and balanced by cooling mint chutney and yogurt.
48 W 48th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-221-7952). $4.95.
Pickled veal feet cemita at El Paso Taqueria
The flavors and textures make this Puebla import of vinegary veal, smoky chipotle, Oaxaca cheese, creamy avocado, onions and lemony papalo (a leafy herb) on a sesame bun our new cult sandwich.
1642 Lexington Ave at 104th St (212-831-9831). $7.95.
Cassoulet at La Sirene
Chef Didier Pawlicki’s notorious pride is most visible during the ceremonious portioning of his pristine cassoulet. It’s worth the pomp: Plump white beans provide an unctuous pedestal for fennel-rich pork sausage, savory duck confit and slab bacon, all topped with a crunchy bread-crumb crust.
558 Broome St between Sixth Ave and Varick St (212-925-3061). $28.75.
Crossabaw pork pt at Momofuku Ssm Bar
Crossabaw pigs—a prized hybrid breed—are what give this pt its rich flavor. Pistachios add texture and complement the swine’s inherent nuttiness, while ramp marmalade cuts through the fat and adds a garlicky bite.
207 Second Ave at 13th St (212-254-3500). $14.
Duck at Savoy
Pennsylvania duck is a fitting canvas for chef Peter Hoffman’s Greenmarket sensibility. The baked fowl—bright pink flesh in a slightly crunchy salted skin—is paired each season with a harvest-appropriate condiment. Right now it’s tart quince compote with oatmeal risotto and cinnamon oil.
70 Prince St at Crosby St (212-219-8570). $29.
Elysian Farms lamb with feta puree, Thai basil and watermelon at Momofuku Ko
You’ll have to sit through the city’s most extravagant lunch to get your hands on David Chang’s delicious, Greek-inflected, tender lamb entre.
163 First Ave between 10th and 11th Sts (momofuku.com). Served as part of a $160 prix fixe.
Goat at Cabrito
Marinated in sour orange and garlic, the succulent slow-roasted goat arrives on a banana-leaf platter with tequila-juiced salsa borracha, diced onion, cilantro and warm flour tortillas. Wash it down with Negra Modelo from the bottle for the full roadhouse-cantina effect.
50 Carmine St between Bedford and Bleecker Sts (212-929-5050). $24.
Mahogany stew at Fatima
At no-frills Guinean restaurant Fatima, peanut butter’s the base of a soul-satisfying, goat-rich mahogany stew, presented with a fluffy Mount Everest of rice and lip-scorching peppers.
789 Franklin Ave between Lincoln and St. Johns Pls, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (718-221-8679). $7.
Pickle pork soup at Hing Won
At Chinese mess hall Hing Won, the grand Mandarin Soup No. 11 does alchemical wonders with three humble ingredients: pig, pickles and pasta. Chewy pork and tart pickle shards swim in a scorching, murky broth chockablock with superwavy noodles. 48 W 48th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-719-1451). $6.50.
Wagyu shabu-shabu at Matsugen
Matsugen’s entre may be the most extravagant do-it-yourself dish in New York. For $132, you get a glistening platter of top-of-the-line Wagyu from Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture—the finest raw beef money can buy, and so richly marbled with fat it needs just a few seconds in the bubbling broth to cook. Now if only we could find an employed banker willing to spring for the bill.
241 Church St at Leonard St (212-925-0202). $132.
FROM THE SEA
Corn and crab chowder at Petite Crevette
One of chef Neil Ganic’s best works is also among his simplest. The buttery chowder of sweet corn and fresh, meaty crab makes a luscious meal. With a hunk of bread, who needs an entre?
144 Union St at Hicks St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-855-2632). $8.
Herring salad at Cafe Katja
A one-dish PR campaign for herring, this is comfort food at its best. Tangy, creamy and wholly satisfying, it transports an undeservedly maligned fish from the old world to a brave new one.
79 Orchard St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-219-9545). $8.
Whitefish-salmon gefilte fish at Russ & Daughters
Long considered the redheaded stepchild of the Passover seder, gefilte fish gets its groove back courtesy of Russ’s variation. The fat, tender little logs are to the jarred stuff what the Ritz is to a Motel 6, and, in fittingly miraculous fashion, they will make you wish it were Passover all year long.
179 E Houston St between Allen and Orchard Sts (212-475-4880). $3.49 each; available Passover, the High Holidays and (special for TONY) Thu 11--Wed 17.
Octopus mosaic at Felidia
Lidia Bastianich takes a surprisingly conceptual approach to the cephalopod. Octopus is pressed into a gelatinous terrine, then sliced thin. Its cross section is a visual masterpiece of creamy ivory flesh rimmed by a pinkish edge, layered with just-firm rounds of potato, mild burrata cheese, dots of chive oil and a few crisp curls of charred tentacle.
243 E 58th St between Second and Third Aves (212-758-1479). $18.
Seafood sausage at Chanterelle
Sausage fiends may raise an eyebrow at this porkless link, but they shouldn’t. This classic combines chopped shrimp, lobster, scallops and sea bass in a traditional casing. A hint of brandy lends a slight oaky flavor, and beurre blanc complements it like mustard to a bratwurst.
2 Harrison St at Hudson St (212-966-6960). Served as part of a $98 prix fixe; la carte at lunch $16.50.
Sturgeon salad at Ouest
A generous mound of thinly sliced, silky, house-cured sturgeon is piled over a runny poached egg, which in turn rests on an aioli-slathered crouton. Add to that a garland of frise with a creamy mustard dressing and an ultragenerous sprinkling of hunky lardons, and stifling moans while eating suddenly becomes impossible.
2315 Broadway at 84th St (212-580-8700). $16.
Rouget at Allegretti
Alain Allegretti’s postcard-perfect stand-in for the French Riviera features slivered baby zucchini, a tapenade smear and four crisp-skinned rouget fillets sauced tableside in a saffron-infused broth.
46 W 22nd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-206-0555). $34.
Falafel at Olympic Pita
Fresh-fried orbs are arranged on a forearm’s length of fluffy laffa bread, then adorned with 20-plus toppings, including pickles, tangy salads and—yes, please—fries.
58 W 38th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-869-7482). $6.50.
Fried pork sandwich at Sophie’s
Fried pig, plantains, pickled onions and mayo are mashed on pressed bread, creating a duet of sweet and meat.
Various locations; sophiescuban.com. $6.95.
Lamb sandwich at X’ian Small Delights
Located inside an underground food court, X’ian Small Delights serves cumin-kissed shredded lamb topped with numbing chilies, jammed inside warm, wonderfully chewy bread.
Golden Mall, 41-28 Main St between Sanford Ave and 41st Rd, Flushing, Queens (no phone). $2.50.
Marinated white-anchovy sandwich at ’wichcraft
When tangy white anchovies are paired with a slightly oozing soft-cooked egg, beautiful music is made. When they’re joined by roasted onions and salsa verde, it’s an ode to joy.
Various locations; wichcraftnyc.com. $8.95.
Panelle at Ferdinando’s Focacceria
At this century-old Sicilian eatery, carnivores and vegetarians alike crave the semolina roll stuffed with fried chickpea fritters, sharp pecorino and creamy ricotta.
151 Union St between Columbia and Hicks Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-855-1545). $5.
Bloody Beer at Blind Tiger Ale House
Necessity breeds invention at the liquorless Blind Tiger, whose Bloody Beer mixes tomato juice, horseradish and black pepper with rotating dark suds, crowned with olives, pickles, peppers and cheese. Move over, Mary.
281 Bleecker St at Jones St (212-462-4682). $7.50.
Dirty Martini at PDT
At PDT, the lethally smooth Tanqueray martini, blended with gold-standard Noilly Prat vermouth, is as cool and briny as the liquor off an oyster, and goes down almost as easily. Served in a chilled coupe glass with three Manzanilla olives, it’s as lovely to behold as it is to drink.
113 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A (212-614-0386). $13.
Fresh-pressed Concord grape juice from Buzzard Crest Vineyards
The grape growers at Buzzard Crest press New York State Concords (and nothing else) for this potent, tart yet fragrant elixir. It’s no exaggeration to call this at once syrupy and astringent, remarkably energizing beverage the nectar of the gods—if the gods drank juice.
Available Saturdays Sept--Nov at Union Square, Grand Army Plaza and Borough Hall Greenmarkets, year-round at the vineyard (barringtoncellars.com). $7 per half gallon, $4 per quart, $2.50 per pint.
Liquid Gold beer at Bierkraft
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company struck the mother lode with its Liquid Gold beer. The Belgian-style pale ale’s fruity, orange-banana bouquet leads to an eminently drinkable, effervescent swirl of honey and spice.
191 Fifth Ave between Berkeley and Lincoln Pls, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-230-7600). $10.95 for a growler.
BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH
Dim sum at Pacificana
Armies of cart-pushers efficiently dispense steamed rice rolls, fresh-tossed clams and shrimp dumplings as gently priced as they are delicious.
813 55th St at Eighth Ave, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (718-871-2880). $1.95--$7.75 per item.
Grafton cheddar omelette at Egg
Edible proof that simplicity is a virtue: The cheddar is sharp and luxurious, the eggs are cooked to such feathery perfection that they could make the most hardened French chef weep, and broiled tomatoes lend the whole thing a sweet, acidic punch.
135 North 5th St near Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-5151). $8.
Pecan sticky bun at Amy’s Bread
This nut-stippled hunk of yeasty goodness appeals to our basest instincts. Swirled with butter and cinnamon sugar, and coated with gooey caramel, one gargantuan treat could last you all day—which doesn’t mean you won’t want seconds.
Various locations; amysbread.com. $2.75.
THE DAIRY SECTION
Gelato at Sant Ambroeus
Italophiles and Met Museum regulars swear there’s no better treat in town than this luscious, flavorful scoop. No wonder: The recipe has its origins in the first Sant Ambroeus in Milan. People go nuts for the pistachio, but don’t overlook the ripe banana, strawberry or mango flavors...or the vanilla with a fresh-pulled shot of espresso poured over it.
1000 Madison Ave at 77th St (212-570-2211); 259 W 4th St at Perry St (212-604-9254). One scoop $3.
Hudson Valley Fresh milk
The ultimate mate for our afternoon cookie: thick, lush milk produced by Hudson Valley Holsteins. Minimal pasteurization means it has to get from beast to bazaar in less than 36 hours—that translates to fresher milk that needs to be consumed quick (which shouldn’t be a problem).
Available at Whole Foods; various locations (wholefoods.com). $4 per half gallon.
Hungarian cream cheese at Hungarian Meat Market
Caf Boulud’s executive chef, Gavin Kaysen, tipped us off to this coral-hued farmer’s-cheese spread, a savory condiment densely speckled with paprika and fortified by pieces of lightly sauted onions. It’s the perfect bagel-topping alternative for the schmear-weary.
1560 Second Ave at 81st St (212-628-5147). $7.49 per pound.
Grass-fed whole milk, lemon oil, maple syrup and live cultures are the deceptively simple elements responsible for this zingy (and healthful) treat. We like to savor the cream on top, then dive into the custardy yogurt below. Available at Marlow & Sons,
81 Broadway at Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-384-1441). $2.25.
Menodiciotto gelato at BuonItalia
Imported from Turin, this gelato is smooth and dense. It has an almost chewy consistency, flavored with exceptional ingredients like hazelnuts from Piedmont and Guatemalan coffee.
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave at 16th St (212-633-9090). $2.50 per small cup.
Written by Joshua M. Bernstein, Jay Cheshes, Zachary Feldman, Gabriella Gershenson, Daniel Gritzer, Stacey Harwood, Kate Lowenstein, Rebecca Flint Marx, Jordana Rothman and Robert Simonson
NEXT: Meet the guy who ate everything»
It can be done! We talk to Eric Grode, the Bronx resident who ate everything (almost) from last year's 100 Best list.
SEE THE COMPLETE GUIDE