March 2017 marched on with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Women’s History Month tributes and, of course, a new crop of restaurants budding all over New York. Last month saw food-and-drink additions including a new outpost of one of the city’s best bakeries, a midtown sibling to one of New York’s most acclaimed Mexican restaurants and a vegetable-focused dining room from one of the world’s most famous chefs. From Japanese hand rolls to fancy French fare, these are the best new restaurants that debuted in New York this March.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best new restaurants in NYC
Best new restaurants in NYC that opened in March
Alex Stupak’s inventive Mexican empire invades midtown. For the fourth iteration of the Empellón brand (Cocina, Taqueria, Al Pastor), Stupak & Co. has decked out this two-story, 8,000-square-foot space with carved wooden ceilings, ceramic pieces from Ukrainian potter Biata Roytburd and wall-spanning murals by U.S. painter Sylvia Ji. A tortilleria in the basement provides fresh rounds for the kitchen—overseen by executive chef Colin King (Oyamel in Washington, D.C.)—which are used for tacos like hash brown with tomatillo ketchup and falafel with grasshopper hummus. Other dishes include wagyu steak fajitas, crab nachos and a salsa flight.
It’s been a long time coming for this vegetable-focused dining room from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the third piece of a restaurant trifecta (with ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina) inside Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home. Murmurings of ABCV first hit the food scene back in 2013 and now, four years later, rumor’s become reality. Situated around the corner from its siblings, the plant-based project is a bright, airy stretch of a dining room, with cheery pops of neon, myriad chandeliers and banquettes upholstered in Andean textiles. A bar is dedicated to vegetable- and fruit-filled juices and tonics, while the open kitchen—helmed by chef de cuisine Neal Harden (Pure Food & Wine)—turns out dishes highlighting organic ingredients. Breakfast items include morning shakes and health-food bowls (sea buckthorn with persimmon and whipped macadamia milk; lunch plates are more composed, with options like tofu custard with crispy yuba.
The Upper East Side can add one more ritzy restaurant to its roster. This French eatery inside the five-star Lowell Hotel is named after early-20th-century painter Jacques Majorelle and comes courtesy of longtime La Grenouille maître d’ Charles Masson. With that kind of pedigree, the spot is appropriately elegant. Masson oversees lush touches like an all-season garden, water fountains and a working fireplace. Francophiles can lap up dishes from former La Grenouille sous chef Mario Fortuna, including foie gras with warm apple delice and thyme-roasted chicken with potato mousseline. And what could be more classically French than an oven used solely for soufflés?
The NYC import of the Sushi Nozawa group’s wildly popular L.A. sushi destination, Sugarfish, has incited four-hour lines since debuting in November 2016. Now a second Nozawa fish concept is heading to the East Coast: KazuNori specializes in temaki, sushi hand rolls that are offered a la carte or in fixed-course options (three, four, five or six hand rolls), in varieties like blue crab, bay scallop and toro. (As with Nozawa’s maki, the rolls are made with specially harvested nori and warm rice.) The sparsely dressed room, which features a 24-seat counter, is first-come, first-served, so gear up for Sugarfish-level lines.
Chefs Club, which spotlights signature dishes from lauded chefs around the world, became the city’s least-surprising success when it opened its Nolita doors in 2015. Now the gastronomic hit introduces a little-sister restaurant with a similar concept but more wallet-friendly prices. The “fine fast” eatery from founder Stephane De Baets and business partner Louise Vongerichten (daughter of Jean-Georges) turns out morning meals from the likes of Alvin Cailan of L.A.’s hit Eggslut: Look for egg sandwiches piled with smoked salmon and fromage blanc or mushrooms and cheese. The lunch and dinner casts have yet to be announced, but expect the team here to snag just as talented a culinary crew as at the original.
Venue says: “Congratulations to Team SATSUKI for being awarded 2018 MICHELIN STAR!”
Fortunately, Toshio Suzuki wasn’t gone for long. A year after shuttering his 30-year-old Sushi Zen in midtown, the New York sushi icon returns with a new raw-fish restaurant divided into three concepts. There’s a 10-seat omakase counter, where Suzuki prepares a seven-course dinner that includes seasonal dishes like steamed monkfish liver and horsehair crab for $250 per person. Three Pillars, an Imperial-style cocktail bar and lounge, sees cocktail “alchemist” Alex Ott pouring Japanese drinks with “healing” powers, like the gin-and-yuzu Seishun No Izumi, which is said to act as an age reverser and PMS remedy. The third prong, opening in April, is the chef’s namesake kaiseki restaurant, which seats 56 people and is helmed by Sushi Zen alum Takashi Yamamoto, who was formerly a private chef for the Japanese consulate.
The old-school butcher shop gets a fresh face-lift in New York. First, there was April Bloomfield’s White Gold Butchers. Now chef Adam Harvey (Union Square Café, ABC Kitchen) and general manager and beverage director Ennio Di Nino (North End Grill) open a butchery-restaurant in Gowanus. The 50-seat space boasts a whole-animal butcher counter offering grass-finished beef, pasture-raised lamb and pork, free-range chicken and house-made deli meat and sausage during the day. Once dinner rolls around, diners can expect meaty dishes like a barbecue beer-can chicken for two and a steak of the day. Despite its focus, there’s no beefy kitsch throughout the space; instead, the modern room features a copper dining counter and 1980s NYC street photography by Steven Siegel.
Some foods, from double-tortilla–wrapped tacos to dirty-water dogs, are well suited to eat while standing. Steak isn’t usually thought to be one of them—until now. Ikinari Steak, a Tokyo-based restaurant chain with more than 100 locations throughout Japan, is a standing-only steakhouse. (Okay, there are 10 seated tables for the lazy.) Customers can order steak by weight in three different cuts—rib eye, sirloin and filet—which the chefs slice and cook over an open fire. The resulting chop is served in a sizzling cast-iron pan with a side of corn and delivered to one of 40 communal standing stations, which are set with accoutrements like the restaurant’s signature soy-based J-Steak sauce.
Sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen changed the New York pie scene when their Gowanus bakery opened in 2009. Now they’re expanding with a 10-seat counter in Prospect Heights. Along with well-known favorites (Salted Caramel Apple, Black Bottom Oat), diners can expect new flavors like a Buckeye Pie (peanut-butter filling with chocolate ganache) and Coconut Custard (coconut-milk custard with coconut flakes), as well as savory goods like hand pies. The biggest change from the original, however, is the addition of booze: low-sulfite wine, Bad Seed cider and local beers like Other Half.
What came first: the treat or the social-media craze? On the heels of raw-cookie-dough phenomenon DŌ comes another Instagram-friendly dessert shop. Wowfulls has previously hawked its ice-cream-filled Hong Kong–style egg waffles at events like Governors Ball and Smorgasburg, and now the operation takes permanent residence on the Lower East Side. The shop offers the colorful street-food sweets in four varities—original, chocolate, matcha and flavor of the month—with scoops like cotton candy Pop Rocks and Oreo Captain Crunch. The storefront also features a rotating art wall: Graffiti hearts by neighborhood artists James Goldcrown are on view for the opening.
It’s not a hotel, motel or Holiday Inn; instead, the rookie restaurant from the team behind the Commons Chelsea is partially a punchy ode to 1960s motel culture, decorated with nostalgic touches like a deep-blue lacquered bar, chenille banquettes and all-pink bathrooms. In the kitchen, executive chef Bill McDaniel (the Red Cat) trades standard roadside fare for more elevated American plates like tuna crudo with green papaya and Fresno chili oil, grilled brook trout with broccoli rabe vinaigrette, and charred octopus with Chinese sausage and preserved lemon.