New York’s most famous borough is already home to some 19,000 restaurants—but there’s always room for more. From old-school Italian to modern French, these new spots are a must-visit on any culinary tour of the Big Apple.
By Natasha Dragun
With his destination diner WD-50 celebrating its 10- year mark, forward-thinking chef Wylie Dufresne has turned his attention to his new East Village eatery, Alder. The pared-back dining room—white brick walls, timber floors—belies a menu that shines with signature Dufresne whimsy. Classic pub fare is reinvented in dishes such as Pigs in a Blanket (Chinese sausage, Japanese mustard, sweet chili sauce) and Dufresne’s noodle version of the Reuben sandwich: rye pasta with shaved pastrami, mustard sauce, and pickles. The cocktails are just as fun—try the Applethy, a mix of vodka, horseradish, and green apple (157 Second Ave.; 1-212/539-1900; aldernyc.com).
Hospitality veterans Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick know a thing or two about the restaurant business, and their experience shines through at this Italian-American newcomer. Waiters glide between tables in vintage Zac Posen tuxedos delivering perfect plates of veal Parmesan, off-the-menu meatballs, and a marsala-spiked tiramisu made sweeter by complimentary shots of grappa and limoncello. The dining room’s decor blends modern-day Italy with a touch of American humor: floors tiled to resemble a scene from The Godfather, midnight- blue walls, and abstract Renaissance-inspired art (181 Thompson St.; 1-212/254-3000; carbonenewyork.com).
Done up with chandeliers and lipstick-pink chairs, Jean-Georges Vongericht-en’s industrial-chic ABC Cocina —the celebrity chef’s ninth New York restaurant—doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to style. There’s plenty of substance here, too, revolving around Spanish- and Latin-influenced sharing plates: mescal-cured salmon with cucumber-yogurt relish; mushroom tacos with mole, kale, and lime; beef tenderloin “burnt ends” with chimichurri. The cocktails are daring—it’s not often that you see rhubarb and banana paired together, but with a good measure of Owney’s gin the muddle proves the ultimate daiquiri (38 E 19th St.; 1-212/677-2233; jean-georges.com).
Josh Pickard, Luke Ostrom, and Andrew Carmellini (the team behind Locanda Verde and The Dutch) unite again at this modern French bistro and bakery. Chef Damon Wise takes tried-and-tested Gallic favorites and gives them a twist in dishes such as tripe bourguignon and rabbit casserole with pommes paysanne; onetime Per Se chef James Belisle, meanwhile, tackles the organic breads, viennoiseries, and pastries. A stellar selection of French aperitifs and wines complement the food, served up in an intimate, ma-hogany-floored room appointed with toffee-colored banquettes (380 Lafayette St.; 1-212/533-3000; lafayetteny.com).
New York has its fair share of raw, vegan, and vegetarian restaurants. Feast is none of these things, although it does deliver an impressive meat-free menu: smoked goat’s-cheese tart with forest mushrooms and kabocha squash agnolotti with gingersnap crumble are among the standout dishes. The farmers’ market offering is one of three multicourse “feasts” here—the other two focus on scallops and nose-to-tail cookery—crafted by chef Christopher Meenan, who teams up with local purveyors for seasonal inspiration. Family-style dishes are available à la carte (102 Third Ave.; 1-212/529-8880; eatfeastnyc.com).