Latest restaurant reviews in NYC
Many new bakeries are opening in New York this year—Ole & Steen, Bourke Street Bakery and Michaeli Bakery—but none excites us as much about carbo-loading as Pilar Cuban Bakery, which opened back in February. At the decade-old Pilar Cuban Eatery’s new Bed-Stuy sister spot, owner-chef Ricardo Barreras rethinks breakfast with underused-in-NYC Cuban ingredients. The casual menu is perfect for on-the-go bites. Or stay and nosh amid the kitsch of Miami cafés: an ’80s-style painting of a papaya, a fake marlin geometric pastel tiling and a spunky neon sign that displays the shop’s name. The pressed-to-order Cuban sandwich ($12) starts with slow-roasted pork in a sour-orange marinade, then adds smoky ham, just the right amount of gooey Swiss cheese, pickles and a coffee-infused mustard. The pastelitos, such as the ground-beef Spanish empanada ($4.50), could supplant a New Yorker’s go-to morning bagel: But while this pastry exhibits the same buttery, savory warmth, it’s dipped in house made cilantro or hot sauce. Try them alongside a café con leche ($4.50 with condensed milk)—so strong that one shot down the hatch induces caffeine jitters. Besides well-done classics, the daily specials include adulce de leche brownie, a guava crumb cake, a mojito cupcake and other modern treats. We opted for a slice of the tropical layer cake ($7); the sweet dessert was a bit too brittle, but the passionfruit buttercream, dollops of guava and coconut shreds gave it a little moisture.Taking its name fr
You're confront with two mouthwatering options upon stepping into Japan Village: Do you go to the popular Sunrise Mart, which has a trio of much smaller locations in Manhattan, filled with adorably packaged snacks and hard-to-find ingredients? Or do you hit up one of the 10 vendors that make up this food court within the sprawling Industry City warehouses along the Brooklyn waterfront? Eat first. If you go with a group, start at Shokusaido and order aspread of snacks, including the kakiage ($5), a Japanese-style fritter that comes out as a tangle of julienned vegetables studded with shrimp. Be sure to add a fish-patty skewer ($2.30) and a croquette ($5). The chicken katsu ($5), a breaded and perfectly deep-fried cutlet, is the size of a small pancake and large enough to share. If you’re feeling more adventurous, order Ramen Setagaya’s Mt. Fuji ramen ($14) for a whimiscal experience. Your task is to conquer a bowl of noodles in a rich pork-bone broth topped with a chili-tomato foam that cradles a heap of Parmesan cheese. While many of the dishes are ideal to pair with drinks—don’t miss Hachi’sokonomiyaki ($9) —the limited bar menu only offers beer and sake. After a drink or two, there may be moments that make you feel like you’re at a market in Kyoto, where chefs are known for specializing in a singular dish. At Shokusaido, chefs make their own bread crumbs; while the best part about Gohei’s ebi tempura udon ($15) are the springy noodles, which are made fresh in-house every ho
The location of HaSalon—underneath a Hell’s Kitchen motel—seems initially in discordance with its fine dining pedigree. But, upon closer inspection, it’s where a raunchy late-night atmosphere is able to fly under-the-radar. The new restaurant by celebrity chef Eyal Shani is an adaptation of his popular Tel Aviv party spot, where people are said to dance on tables and where gates roll down the windows to keep the mood discreet. Full disclosure, I could only get a reservation for the first seating at 6pm, where the vibe was playful, but more tame, with classical music humming through the speakers upon entrance. The Israeli restaurant’s cryptically-named dishes aren’t given much explanation, listed on the menu in Comic Sans (an atypical font choice for a menu where an entrée can cost more than $70). Our waiter knew the backbone ingredients of dishes but said that the menu changes daily, with presentations by whim of Chef. That was a concept I had never come across before in a restaurant: That tables ordering the same dish, might get different versions. Mysterious! There’s a buzzy energy that you’re in the presence of a mad genius; relinquishing yourself to the unknown, is what’s cool here. A white asparagus that looks like a dildo is listed with all-caps excitement: “ASPERGE BLANC: VERY PERSONAL.” And, as one staff member told me, it’s a dish that has been said to have been placed into customers’ mouths, when the restaurant livens up late at night. Bearing in mind that our
It used to be that any restaurant dubbed “Asian fusion” might as well hang a DO NOT ENTER sign. Chefs would often attempt to blend flavors that are foreign to many American diners, then tone them down and end up with something forgettable—or, as my dining companion likes to call it, “confusion cuisine.” Luckily, that’s changed. At Wayan, chef Cédric Vongerichten and his wife, Ochi, offer an ode to Indonesian food with French touches. However, when I stepped into this buzzy restaurant that’s decorated with teak carvings and antiques mixed with sleek, designer-looking leather chairs, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The seemingly straightforward chicken satays ($14) convinced me that the kitchen knew its way around fusion cuisine. The perfectly cooked skewers were paired with a rich peanut sauce that evokes flavors that you’d find in Bali. A Javanese oxtail soup ($19) was rich with beefiness and hints of cinnamon, lightened with herbs. I wish I received a bigger portion of the steamed black sea bass ($24) because the chili-calamansi vinaigrette on top made this simple dish pop with flavors. It’s also worth noting that the Vongerichtens live in the shadow of Cédric’s father, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Before Asian fusion became mass market (and quickly went south), the celebrated chef with restaruants across the world was one of the leaders in marrying fine dining with global flavors. In recent years, however, younger chefs like Cédric have shed fusion cooking’s bad reputation.
If location, location, location is key to a New York restaurant making it in a cutthroat market, Teranga is—at least metaphorically—in a perfect spot. Here, you’ll find West African–inspired dishes in a fast-casual café nestled inside the Africa Center, which is a cultural hub that’s “committed to an integrated approach for understanding all aspects of the African continent, including transforming narratives.” Look no further than chef Pierre Thiam’s food to tell the story. The Senegal-born chef draws on influences from Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire and other African countries but imparts a break-the-rules approach. Order one of the three seasonal bowls, and you’ll understand: The Jollof ($14) features roasted salmon topped with fragrant spices with sides of spicy fried plantains and a bright black-eyed-pea salad. While jollof, a ubiquitous West African dish, is usually made with rice, Thiam stews the ancient grain fonio in an herbaceous tomato broth.The gluten-free menu includes a market-plate section ($10–$14), which is perfect for exploring African food. You can fill your blue- and red-rimmed enamel dishes by mixing and matching a starch (don’t miss the fluffy, ruby-red Liberian rice) with a main ingredient, such as grilled chicken or the ndambe (a satisfying stew of sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas). Then add sides like the fufu, a spongy ball of pounded plantain that you’ll want to dip in the slightly sweet peanut sauce. While all our food was served lukewarm from this counte
You might not know what’s hidden inside a highly sought-after Art Deco building is one of New York’s hottest new restaurants
Growing up in Rhode Island, I drank coffee milk (think chocolate milk but with coffee syrup instead of Nesquick) alongside my school lunches in kindergarten, ate clam cakes (basically a savory beignet filled with chopped clams) by the half dozen on warm summer nights and grabbed a slice of pizza hot off the grill instead of fresh out of the oven. But, entering adulthood, I felt that Little Rhody wasn’t big and exciting enough for me, so I moved to NYC where I quickly learned that the Ocean State’s culinary creations are hard to find outside its 1,212 square miles. And so I was surprised to catch wind of Violet, an homage to RI cuisine in Alphabet City from the Pizza Loves Emily group. Just a guess, but such a concept was probably not the result of market research on the big bucks to be raked in from feeding expats of the country’s smallest state. No, this seems like genuine passion project for owners Emily and Matt Hyland, who attended school in Providence. But I, for one, was there to experience the comfort of home cooking. The place was buzzing like a five-year-old hyped up on coffee milk late on a weeknight. I tried to catch a “chowdahead” accent among the patrons, but I couldn’t identify any “swamp Yankees”; instead, a hip downtown crowd was getting what was perhaps their first taste of the grilled pizza that Providence’s Al Forno restaurant perfected. Here’s how simple it is to make: Slap the dough on the grill until it’s crisp, then flip it over and add toppings w
In New York City, nearby blocks can feel worlds apart. Case in point: “Curry Hill,” a traditional Indian food stronghold in Murray Hill, lies just north of Gupshup, a confident newcomer that is not only world’s apart from its mom- and-pop neighbors’ ambiance but also incorporates an international eclecticism right into its cooking. For example, you can flavor cracker-thin bread with some foie gras butter or wrap lentil chilla “pancakes” around pulled jackfruit, taco- style. As an alum of New Delhi’s posh Indian Accent, chef Gurpreet Singh is evermore relaxed in his bi-level digs, which resemble a colorful mansion of an imagined wealthy family in the 1970s Bombay. Here, black-and-white checkered floors and green velvet-cushioned booths evoke nostalgia, while a vibrant, bright-pink mural of a woman posing in a headdress and high heels brings a zeitgeist energy. On this fashionable stage, Singh ventures deep into fusion territory with small plates—think fluffy, street-style puchkas nestled in a curd-rice mousse flecked with nubs of lightly smoked salmon or a Mumbai-meets–Mexico City guacamole served with strips of spiced chips baked with chickpea flour. On the bread front, try a fragrant, caraway-seasoned kulcha: Filled with wilted garlic-coriander spinach, it can be spread with tomato-fennel chutney and fresh mint burrata and eaten like toast. Among the best of these freewheeling experiments is a Keralan-inspired rasam ramen that tangles wavy noodles with cubes of paneer chee
New York City is full of indoor kids. So it’s no surprise that Zauo, the Japanese fishing restaurant, makes the rugged sport as simple—and indoorsy—as possible for the state’s worst fishermen. Inside the multi-level, Finding Nemo–esque space—complete with a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling and an LED screen broadcasting underwater videos—the staff guides you to one of the many shallow pools teeming with your chosen fish (rainbow trout, flounder, lobster, salmon, among others). They bait your hook, give a brief explainer on proper technique and secure your squirmy pal into a net before letting you snap a pic of your moment of triumph. The whole thing takes a few minutes and ends with a team clapping and cheering and drum-banging for your very outdoors-kid accomplishment. It’s an everyone-gets-a-merit-badge event, which is refreshing in a city that requires Olympic-level competitiveness just to walk through Times Square in July. But the gimmicky part ends as soon as the meal begins. After you order your fish fried, grilled, sashimi’d or simmered in soy sauce (or you can have certain breeds prepared two different ways), the dishes arrive swiftly and elegantly plated, if you don’t mind staring at your victim’s head. The lobster tempura is tender and sweet with a light, crunchy batter, while the flounder simmering in soy sauce strikes just the right notes of full-bodied umami. But that same flounder is not to be sashimi’d, as the raw slices are too thin to be so chewy. And
Like most elitist things, Undercote plays hard to get. For instance, you can only make a reservation through email. And if you don’t receive a follow-up text, you should have known you haven’t been booked. But on a recent Thursday night, the hostess was able to “squeeze” us into the half-empty speakeasy. The T-shaped room beneath the Korean steakhouse Cote is dimly lit and all black but for the walls, which are adorned with vertical gardens, some set behind glass. It feels very reptile-house chic—you half expect to see a mounted placard delineating the origins of the poison dart frog. This Mother Earth theme extends to the peculiar, NSFW botany-book menu: Most pages don’t list drinks at all, but are instead illustrated with plants and made-up erotic nicknames. The spiky Begonia melanobullata is listed as “a.k.a. SPANK ME” (no thanks), while the leafy Peperomia puteolata is seemingly “RIBBED FOR HER PLEASURE” (how thoughtful). Sandwiched between these Georgia O’Keefe–esque pieces of art are the divine, but astronomically priced drinks. The Role Model and the Cola Nerve Tonic are $27 cocktails that are punched with whiskey, the former soothed by a smoky cocoa tinge and the latter imbued with herbal and floral notes. For sweeter sips, the Big Melons in Little Collins ($20) is rounded out with a nutty, sesame-seed–infused soju, while the juicy Raspberry Beret ($24) is reminiscent of a sour ale mixed with a melted fruit popsicle. But the drinks alone can’t save the night. You’
Seasons come and go, but some should just go. And not come back.
There’s no secret door or password to this self-proclaimed smokehouse speakeasy
Forget politics or religion: There may not be anything as divisive in NYC as one’s allegiance to a specific pizzeria