Ever since Missy Robbins opened, restaurant reviewers have been raving that finally she's finally cooking pasta again. Born into a family of hosts, travelers and cooks, Missy Robbins brings the best of Italy to Williamsburg where wood-fired seafood, hand-crafted pastas, classic Italian cocktails and warm hospitality come together to create a casual dining experience. Robbins says she found her Italian soul in her five years as Executive Chef at Spiaggia in Chicago. While focusing her skills on fine dining Italian she found her true passion in cooking a deeper understanding of regional Italian cooking. If you come here and don't get the pasta, you're doing it all wrong.
There's something to be said for staying power, and Le Bernardin certainly delivers. Celebrity chef Eric Ripert has created a New York space that's romantic, refined and seductive, while still managing to infuse his French-Spanish influence into every corner. Le Bernardin, regarded by many as the best restaurant in NYC, has received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in the city, and holds four New York Times stars, in addition to three Michelin stars. The food, as you might imagine, is impeccable. Simple preparations and respect for the ingredients trump any type of frou-frou experiments, though the cuisine still manages to shine with creativity that can only come from years of intense love and attention-to-detail. If you love seafood, put Le Bernardin at the very top of your culinary bucket list.
When a past love re-enters your life, it can either go horribly wrong or beautifully right. At Union Square Cafe, the iconic Danny Meyer spot recently re-opened after a two-year hiatus, we're reminded exactly of why the good old days were so fantastic. The chef's reinstated classics including the burger and the ricotta gnocchi, pure and simple comfort food done exceptionally well. Unlike your most loved comfort food joint, however, you can't just stroll in and plop yourself down at a table. Reservations are tough to nail down, so it's best to plan ahead. Still, it's worth the extra leg work. Union Square Cafe is back – and dare we say, better than ever.
Unless it's freakishly low, or ridiculously lofty, a restaurant's ceiling probably isn't the first thing that draws your attention. At Keen's, it'll be all you can look at - that is, until they bring your meal. Keens Steakhouse - established in 1885 - is one of New York's oldest and most revered eateries. It also happens to have the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world literally hanging from its rafters. The tradition stems from the days when travelers left their delicate pipes at their favorite inns until they returned. Today, Keen's is well known for its mutton chop - a deep cut of meat so succulent you'll wonder why its popularity ever waned.
One of New York's most recognized restaurants, Gramercy Tavern is an old standby that functions like a delicious utility knife. You can dress it up or dress it down, visit on a random weekday or save it for a special occasion and it will mold itself to your exact state of mind. The NY Times Pete Wells awarded Gramercy Tavern three stars in 2016, nearly 22 years after it first opened. Why? For one, things here simply work. You know the service is going to be on par and the food irresistible. You also know that the kitchen will continue to innovate on everything from their $110 veggie tasting menu to their decadent desserts. An old dog can learn new tricks, and you, the diner, should reward (and relish) them.
Helmed by Executive Chef, Daniela Soto-Innes, a 27-year-old force to be reckoned with, Enrique Olvera's Cosme burst onto the scene leaving New Yorkers clamoring for a seat. Olvera's Chef's Table episode featuring his Mexico City joint, Pujol, certainly didn't hurt his appeal, but the food at Cosme has proven to stand on its own. Take the duck carnitas, for example. Salted and hung for three days before being roasted and then slow-cooked overnight in duck fat and Mexican Coke, these aren't your typical tacos. This is modern Mexican food at its best - cool and comforting, while still keeping a keen eye on what makes New York different from Mexico City. Is this the best restaurant in New York right now? It may be.
Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongrichten has a culinary empire that spans the globe, but his eponymous restaurant connected to the Upper West Side's Trump Hotel remains a gold standard for the chef's subtly Asian-inflected, French haute cuisine. His now-legendary tuna tartare and young garlic soup remain enormously popular with Harry Winston-wearing hotel guests, well-dressed ladies who lunch, and top-tier executives from the neighboring high-rise offices. Expect stalwart service and expense account-worthy cuisine while taking in the views of Central Park West and Columbus Circle from the dining room's floor-to-ceiling windows. Without interruption, Jean-Georges has held three Michelin stars since it opened its doors in 1997.
Upon entering Sushi Yasuda, one is immediately aware of the absence of art, decorations, or anything that might attract the eye. It is minimalist to the extreme with bamboo-plank walls and open spaces. This simplicity is reflected in Chef Naomichi Yasuda's cuisine as well. The fillets of fish are custom-cut for each order, as pre-cut fish begins to break down almost immediately, losing some of its delicate textures and flavors. The pure and clean dishes are built out of respect for tradition have helped this restaurant to earn a three star review in the New York Times, and numerous accolades on lists like these ones the city over.
In 2017, Eleven Madison Park underwent a major renovation, which still kept the building's original Art Deco details and expanded the bar to accommodate more regulars. On the food front, acclaimed chef, Daniel Humm, continues to shine in the wake of his place on the 50 Best Restaurants list. While the menu changes frequently, guests can expect innovative food, but without the pomp and pretension that's rampant amongst fine dining restaurants in the city. Grubstreet described the food as a move toward "hyperminimal" with Humm himself saying, "Today, it's (the food) much more about feeling – it's harder to explain how to make something look organic and beautiful."
In the cluster of craziness that's become the new Lower East Side, a few spots rise above the noise. One, in particular, is Wildair, the laid-back sister restaurant of neighboring Contra. Helmed by two of the most exciting chefs in NYC, Wildair is mostly a wine bar...albeit one that serves really, really good food and unique, never-before-tasted pours. Most everything is made in-house, including the freshly baked bread that's served with salted olive oil. The wagyu steak for two is also a star, but if you're not looking to drop a cool Benjamin on grub, stick to the steak tartare topped with cheddar, horseradish and brazil nuts.