The West Village restaurant scene still maintains its charm despite being surrounded by a city filled with more chain stores than ever before and a new expensive condo development popping up every other day. For diners, whether we're looking to dine outdoors or a weekend brunch with friends, the neighborhood feel of the West Village continues luring us downtown. We can as easily enjoy cheap eats or one of the best Manhattan restaurants.
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Best West Village restaurants
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.
This sequel to the popular dell’anima strives to deliver more than its precursor, with buttoned-up Ralph Lauren–inspired decor and pristinely presented small plates like beef carpaccio. The upscale trattoria's larger dishes offer a homey quality, including a comforting bowl of garganellis pasta with mushroom ragu. Sip from the pages-long wine list or snag a bottle of the fan-favorite house wine, which puts all other table reds to shame.
Kurt Gutenbrunner still delivers his best Austrian fare at this airy West Village corner perch that feels like a neighborhood hangout despite walls filled with Julian Schnabels. His seasonally influenced menu hasn’t evolved drastically, rotating between haute takes on Austrian standbys—soft lemony spaetzle mashed up with corn, morels and rabbit; Wiener schnitzel with an eggy shell that peels off like a bread blanket; apple-walnut strudel—and more unusual fare (a hot, minty, creamless pea soup; a strudel-take on cod; strawberry granite with elderflower mousse). The wine list stands out for the city’s best selection of the pride of Vienna’s vineyards: Grüner-Veltliner.
Three Owls Market is the West Village's newest eatery, joining the growing number of all-day cafes in New York. Fans of Fairfax, Dimes, Gertie, Golda, Hunky Dory and Ole & Steen will rejoice at the concept inspired by New York delis and European markets. The space was designed by James Beard Award-winners The MP Shift, the studio brainchild of Anna Polonsky and Amy Morris (Ferris, Golda, Mimi Cheng's and Colonia Verde are also clients) who make many of New York's most Instagrammable eating destinations. The menu—which pulls from Italian, Mediterranean and French pantries—includes 40-60 items for sit-down, with 25-30 prepared food options. In the morning, you can find grain porridge with barley grits, amaranth with herb oil, crispy millet and an almond pesto; yogurt with citrus, fennel seed, nuts; egg whites, peppadews, arugula; and on the weekends, a special Montecristo with egg-dipped bread, turkey, gruyere, grain mustard and jam. Pastries change daily at the to-go counter (morning glory muffin and lemon poppy seed version will be available starting on Monday), as well as to-go sides like beets with orange and juniper, cauliflower with pickled currants, spicy honey and almonds and cacio e pepe snap peas. In the afternoon there's a fancy grilled cheese with gruyere, shallot jam and pullman among other sandwiches and rotisserie meats. At night, the 24-seat space also functions as a bar, with a roster of natural wines and bar snacks (such as a petite chickpea panelle and st
Executive chef Garrison Price turns out health-focused plates like tahini-topped cauliflower steak and chickpea spaghetti tangling with seasonal vegetables and herbs. The concepts of healthful and delicious pair together like peas and carrots.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten has brought his trademark virtuosity to one of the Richard Meier’s gleaming glass towers on the edge of the Village. The sleek, minimalist space fronting Hudson River Park is cast in luminous whites and neutral tones that focus attention where it belongs: on the food. The menu, overseen by Jean-Georges's son Cédric, features playful and innovative variations on seasonal favorites.
On the ground floor are tatami-style rooms; on the mezzanine are re-creations of a living room, dining room and library of a Japanese home from the Meiji Era. But the main dining room is where the action is: Diners sit at tables around a small pond under high ceilings. The menu changes frequently with seasonal specials. Try the sake and shochu flights (or wonderful original cocktails) and you’ll get an authentic Asian buzz, too.
This convivial, New England–style joint was a forerunner of the city’s fish-shack trend. The outstanding lobster roll—sweet, lemony meat laced with mayonnaise on a butter-enriched bun—is Pearl’s raison d’être, but more sophisticated dishes fare equally well: A bouillabaisse features briny lobster broth packed with mussels, cod, scallops and clams, with an aioli-smothered crouton balanced on top—a great value at $20.
It’s getting hot in New York’s Neapolitan pizza scene, and not just because of the blazing hearths: The man behind Kesté, Roberto Caporuscio, carries a big name. President of the U.S. branch of the Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers, Caporuscio introduces New Yorkers to his pie expertise in an intimate, 46-seat space, with pizzas that range from the classics to original creations.
Joseph Leonard owner Gabriel Stulman sowed the seeds of a burgeoning West Village mini empire with this grocery store and casual eatery. The homey corner space has wooden floors, exposed brick, and distressed-wood shelves. Stock up on farm-raised meats, house charcuterie and domestic cheeses, or eat in at the 12-seat lunch counter in back.
This casual Italian restaurant packs of cult following of neighborhood locals (including the occasional celebrity) The spacious dining room with high ceiling spanning to the rooftop garden echoes with conversations making for a lively atmosphere. Don't miss the gorgeous Italian fare including a line of handmade pastas that will have you making repeat visits.