NYC Restaurant Week® in Manhattan
Chef-owner Alfred Portale made his name with towering New American constructions, and though the menu doesn’t push any boundaries, the execution is impressive—as is the restaurant’s soaring, masculine space. It’s pricey, but Gotham delivers.
Not every talented cook can make the transition from kitchen lieutenant to restaurateur—especially if the skills don’t extend beyond the stove to crafting a menu and scene that diners will dig. Haute French vet Andrew Carmellini—who many moons ago executed classics under Gray Kunz at Lespinasse—has had no trouble hatching venues diners flock to, perhaps taking a page from his other old boss, Daniel Boulud, one of the city’s savviest CEO chefs. Since going his own way, Carmellini—along with partners Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom—has turned out crackling barn-burners in cuisines outside his training: Locanda Verde (raucous Italian) and the Dutch (an enlightened view of American). So his return to French food at Lafayette was rightfully anticipated: Heads would turn; fireworks would ensue. Yet Carmellini’s new Noho brasserie is more controlled burn than conflagration; you get the warmth and the glow, but not the stunning blaze. Everything in Lafayette glows: the blue-flamed rotisserie and wood oven, the soft lamps and candles, and the gently backlit bar. The large room enjoys a proper bustle, not a din. Lithe young things tilt their heads over glasses of Sancerre in that golden light at tables, and over at the bar, clutches of suits strain their necks to get the bartender’s attention. The menu, cooked by longtime Craft executive chef Damon Wise, is suffused with all sorts of food you’ll want to eat.
When you make your way inside, floral wallpaper, red-velvet booths and a giant portrait of Peter Rabbit (after all the restaurant is named after him) generate the feeling of being tucked away in the Marais district of Paris, aided even further by the haunt’s elusive location in a familiar neighborhood.
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 has returned with a new raw-fish restaurant divided into three concepts.
The James Beard–nominated Joseph “JJ” Johnson (the Cecil, Minton’s) headed just south of Harlem for his first solo venture, which takes its inspiration from the pan-African dishes of his childhood. Look out for house-made roti with eggplant-date puree and the “Afropot,” which is stuffed with king crab, shrimp, clams and Chinese pork sausage.
Dan Kluger doesn’t seem worried about backlash at his years-in-the-making solo debut, Loring Place, his first restaurant gig since shedding the security blanket of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC restaurant empire back in 2014. His vibrant Greenmarket riffs earned him a legion of locavore followers who have seemingly tailed the chef the 10 blocks downtown to his new dining room, a split-level, ABC-lite expanse of whitewashed walls and sleek neutrals.
It’s not easy to admit you’re wrong, which is why Floyd Cardoz, of Tabla and Top Chef Masters fame, deserves major props. If Paowalla was mild-mannered Stanley Ipkiss from The Mask, the Bombay Bread Bar is his frisky, cocksure superhero alter ego. Designed by the film-set decorator and Wes Anderson collaborator Kris Moran, the space is a circus for the senses.
At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought. This is not that restaurant, and it’s certainly not that bread. At High Street on Hudson, the day-to-night West Village sibling to the lauded Philadelphia restaurant, High Street on Market, head baker Alex Bois’s astonishing loaves—potent New World ryes, hearty German-style vollkornbrot, anadama miche enriched with molasses—obliterate the idea of bread as mere mealtime filler. Here, it is the meal.
At Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem bistro, global soul food takes center stage, artfully mixing Southern-fried, East African, Scandinavian and French flavors. The food is as relaxed as the setting itself: breezy and cheerful. The sprawling space is inviting and buzzy, the definitive place to be north of 110th Street. Doubling as a gallery space, the restaurant showcases oversize works by notable New York artists, including uptown residents LeRone Wilson and Philip Maysles.
The second outpost of this Greek/Mediterranean spot favors fresh fish and Hellenic home cooking, dishing out mains like wild black bass for two and char-grilled lobster with broccoli rabe and feta.