The soulful Italian plates served at Via Carota, the first joint effort from chef power couple Jody Williams and Rita Sodi—at once rustic, sophisticated and heart-swelling—proves simple food can be anything but basic. The glass-fronted Grove Street gastroteca (named after the Tuscan thoroughfare where Sodi once lived) is a chestnut’s throw from West Village charmers Buvette and I Sodi, where, respectively, Williams and Sodi took the reins as downtown’s doyennes of comfort food done excellently.
Over the past decade, Jody Williams has established a serious food-industry following. At the tiny, Gallic-themed Buvette, she's got just enough space to feed a neighborhood following. Her self-consciously retro cooking is a showcase not of the chef's creativity but of her very good taste. Buvette is the sort of place where you pop in for a glass of wine and a snack and three hours later realize you've stayed for dinner.
At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought—baskets of chalky, uninspired dinner rolls shuffled out with chilled, foil-wrapped butter. 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 chef Eli Kulp and Ellen Yin’s lauded Philadelphia restaurant, High Street on Market, head baker Melissa Weller bakes astonishing loaves of bread and pastries. Here, it is the meal.
King feels a bit like London's River Café—a landmark restaurant known for its seasonal Italian fare—in front and back of the house. In the kitchen, River Café alums and chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt focus on cooking that's not overly precious: a vegetable-heavy menu complements the meat and fish courses; you'd be just as happy with a salad as you with the baked fish (the carta di musica, a crackly flatbread, is also irresistible). The simply-designed space is filled with natural light during the day, and at dinner, the ambiance is sophisticated yet relaxed. The menu changes almost every day and that's just one reason to come back again and again.
Last we saw Daisuke Nakazawa, he was toiling over egg custard as the modest apprentice in the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, humbled by the rigors of an 11-year stint under the world’s most distinguished sushi chef, Jiro Ono. The pupil is now the teacher at this sleek West Village sushi bar. For his daily changing omakase, Nakazawa swiftly sets each of the 20 or so perfect pieces on your plate in succession.
Matt and Emily Hyland hit it out of the park when they opened their thin-crust, wood-fired pizza spot, Emily, in Clinton Hill in 2014. Three years later, they opened their first Manhattan location, taking over the former Blue Ribbon Bakery space in the West Village. Here, the Detroit-style grandma pies, as well as New York and New Haven styles are fired in a century-old wood-burning oven.
Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman is an A-list impresario with a trio of hot eateries—including Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey's Grocery—clustered within a three-block West Village radius. Fedora, is the most chef-focused of the bunch, matching Stulman's trademark hospitality with destination-worthy cuisine. The food is eccentric, yes, but not so extreme you couldn't, or wouldn't, want to eat here twice a week.
One of the first questions you’re asked upon entering Takashi—a restaurant that focuses on yakiniku, Japan’s interpretation of Korean barbecue—is whether you eat beef. It’s smart of them to inquire, because if you don’t, you’ll probably want to leave—most menu items hinge on cattle. Despite the carnivorous focus, the meal is balanced, refined and surprisingly light, thanks to modest portions and impeccably sourced, sustainable beef.
RedFarm is indeed groundbreaking: an interpretive Chinese kitchen whose high-end ingredients and whimsical plating have helped pack the dining room since opening night. The restaurant is an Ed Schoenfeld joint, building on the work he began with head chef Joe Ng over at Chinatown Brasserie. Buzzy RedFarm feels like a return to those boom times, a stab at bringing some of that old energy back.
This hidden Italian-food gem is overseen by former fashion executive Rita Sodi. The toque’s homey menu favors simple dishes like a delicious lemony artichoke salad with shaved Parmigiano or the popular cacio e pepe. Be prepared for a long wait but once you're in, it's worth it.