Chris Cipollone was lured to Midtown East six years ago when he found himself a rent-stabilized apartment. The food options around him? Not so much. But the chef of the recently-opened Piora in the West Village says the neighborhood is constantly changing. There are parts he doesn't care for (i.e., the crowded frat bars during the weekends) but surprisingly, there's more of a neighborhood vibe the farther east you go. Sprinkled all around, though, are places worth checking out. Here are his favorite eats for Midtown East.
Pizza: Primavera Pizza for a New York slice. It's completely consistent, and it has that deli-like foldable consistency. I normally get a sausage slice and a plain slice, and I'm good to go. For a Neapolitan pizza: Angelo's. They have a couple around the city. There I get the pizza margherita all the way. It has a thin crust and good ingredients. It's just really good and done well.
Burger: P.J. Clarke's; it's a New York staple. It's always busy, it's always consistent. You get a burger and some tater tots. It's not gourmet, it's just an awesome burger. Usually I get a bacon cheeseburger with french fries and a side of Russian dressing.
Sandwich: Right on my block a new place opened called Treehaus. It's one of the huge Midtown lunch type spots. They have a huge list of sandwiches, and they're all good. They do this Korean bulgogi beef sandwich with pickled daikon on it. The beef is sliced nice and thin.
Coffee: I like Oren's, which is right next to Treehaus. I'm just a large iced coffee guy. In the winter I just go with a large hot coffee with half and half and no sugar. I like really strong coffee. For some reason, Oren's has this slightly bitter, almost robust flavor. Some people might not like it, but I do.
Bagel: Ess-a-Bagel. They're the perfect New York bagel. There's always a big line, but you can get them to go right at the counter if you get them to take home. An everything bagel or a pumpernickel are my favorite.
Bakery: There's Buttercup Bakery. They always have good stuff. I always go for those lemon bars or those carmelita bars.
Breakfast or brunch: There's a lot of options for brunch in my neighborhood. The Smith is always a great brunch. But I just go for my Morning Star Diner, between 50th and 51st on Second. It's always consistent, it's cheap, and fast. And they know me in there. Two eggs over easy, hash browns and bacon—that's pretty typical. I go maybe once a month.
Chinese: Café China. That place delivers to my apartment. That's my go to for Chinese food. It's not your typical Chinese takeout, though. The food has good kick to it and the quality is exceptional. I always get the dan dan noodles, fried dumplings, the double-cooked pork with tofu... so good.
Indian: Right across the street, down from where I live, there's an Indian restaurant called Amma. The owners have two units in my apartment. They've been there for years. They're extremely nice people, and the food is really good, especially the curries.
Ramen: Hide-Chan Ramen. It used to be a yakitori place, but the ramen is pretty good. Pasta is like my thing, so anytime I can get a good bowl of noodles, I'm all about it.
Bar: Stag's Head serves only craft beer. It's only on tap. They're always changing them out, too. The bar food is actually really good. My order depends on the season, if it's hot out, I might go for a nice crisp lager. If it's cold, I'll get a porter or stout, something heavier or richer.
French: La Bateau Ivre is a French restaurant open until 4 a.m. every day. It's great when I get out of work late. They have good wine. It's 100 percent a Francophile's restaurant. It's also the place for French fries. They're hand-cut, skin on.
Date spot: Sofia Wine Bar. My girlfriend sells wine. We go there and get some olives and some sparkling wine and hang out. It's a little bit dark. It's a really nice place.
A favorite: In the immediate area, there's no fine dining. One place we like to go to and it is sort of a chain restaurant is a Hillstone on 53rd and Lex. It's just plain old American food. It's really simple stuff. It's good, consistent food in a nice setting, and you can bring your own wine without a corkage fee. They have baby back ribs that are great. I bring my bottle of pinot noir.