Torrisi Italian Specialties
From the lunchtime chicken parm heroes and roast turkey sandwiches that earn them lines down the block, to an insanely underpriced four-course $50 dinner menu that changes every night, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone not only manage to improve deli classics, they're changing the face of Italian-American food in this country.
So much more than a gin bar, this loosely Scandinavian restaurant wowed us with oxtail croquets and housemade pickles and spectacular seafood. We went expecting some sort of elevated, vaguely European-accented bar fare; we left with a renewed faith in New York's restaurants to produce something novel and exciting.
Simply put, it's some of the best Thai food we've had outside Thailand. Though very few of the dishes at Kin Shop could be considered "authentic" Thai fare, Dieterle seems to understand the concept of balance at the heart of the cuisine, deftly orchestrating Western cooking methods and ingredients with their Thai counterparts. It's not an easy rope to walk, but when it works, it comes together gloriously on the plate. And Kin Shop works very well indeed.
It only takes a sniff, upon cracking open the door of tiny Mimi's, to understand why we sent you there. Cumin and garlic and cinnamon, meat stewing and pita baking, mushrooms simmering and onions browning—it all hits you in one deep, rapturous breath. Though the menu is simple, hummus and eggs, soups and small plates, very little we've tried here has fallen short of spectacular.
ABC Kitchen may be more casual that Jean-Georges Vongerichten's other restaurants, but the food, from brilliant raw fish dishes to smartly composed crostini to a carrot salad we're still thinking about, makes it just as much of a destination. And the always-seasonal menu keeps us coming back again and again.
John Dory Oyster Bar
Chef-partner April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's upscale seafood restaurant is back, in a much more casual setting. They've opened the city's first oyster bar without an England/New England bent. The result is a startlingly original menu that, refreshingly, doesn't rely as heavily on the pork and bacon that dot the menu at Bloomfield's other spots.
Breakfast at Maialino
"The idea behind the breakfast menu was to have a little fun with our own adaptations of classic breakfast dishes by giving them a Roman or Italian accent," chef Nick Anderer told us. The result is a breakfast that's mindbogglingly good—even if it's like no breakfast you'd be served in Italy. We like lunch and dinner here, too, but breakfast is in a league of its own.
This Williamsburg Japanese restaurant impresses upon entrance with its maze of tables behind bamboo curtains, but the menu is just as enticing and improbable—whether you're ordering shark cartilage from the a la carte menu, or, our recommendation, the eight-course omakase. Rotating every six weeks or so, the seasonally driven meal is just $55. It's not just a deal; it's all but insane.