Because every New Yorker loves to eat, whether it's food truck or fine dining, we bring you Table Stakes: a series that answers man’s eternally recurring question (“Uh, what’s new?”), and recurs once every lunar cycle or so. Bon appétit.
The year 2016 might have left a bad taste in your mouth.
Thankfully, there were also plenty of meals on hand to wash that bad taste out.
Namely, the ones we found at the new NYC restaurants that made this year a delicious one.
From a hand-pulled pasta factory in Brooklyn to a French feast renaissance, here are the 10 best eateries we dined at since the earth last rotated the sun.
Dine on and drink well, fellas.
Fowler & Wells
Because we would follow Tom Colicchio into Mount Doom
Nestled in the handsome Beekman Hotel — a revival of a 130-year-old skyscraper — reigning NYC champ Colicchio reminded us why he holds the belt in the first place. A contemporary take on old-school New York, Fowler & Wells is hands-down the best all-around meal we had the pleasure of relishing in 2016. The service, the atmosphere and, dear God, the fare, are all superior. Each dish distinct and engaging, without all of that up-in-your-face contempo fusion. It’s simple and perfect. And the Sirloin? We literally wrote home about it.
LaRina Pastificio & Vino
Because pasta is a way of life
Fresh pasta is the 400 thread-count sheet of the culinary world. Once you have the real thing, you’re never going back. Brooklyn’s charming new mini pasta factory, LaRina, is then by definition the culinary verison of a night at the Waldorf. The Black Ink Bucatini knocks it out of the park, and they serve no less than five varieties of Negroni. Pasta can be ordered a la carte or in tastings of three, five or seven for sharing. Good for one of those dinners that accidentally lasts for four hours — but you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Le Coq Rico
Because there’s poultry, and then there’s this
When a three-star Michelin chef crosses the pond for the first time, we listen. Such is the case with French toque Antoine Westermann, of Le Coq Rico, with a Manhattan-by-way-of-New-York spot that specializes in hyper-local poultry. The menu is a meditation not just on chicken, but also duck, hen, guinea fowl, squab and more, all raised on small farms in the Northeast. Get a whole bird to share with the table — or just for yourself. It’s been a helluva a year, and you deserve it.
Because we got a fever, and the only cure is more pizza
An iteration from the Charlie Bird team doing what they do best: simple yet spectacular. The atmosphere leaves nothing to be desired, with air redolent of Neapolitan — or at least “neo-NY-style” — pizza coming from the wood-fired brick ovens set amid excellent, dance-in-your-seat-while-you-eat tunes.
Because we’re keepin’ it classy, New York
When powerhouses Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have an announcement, our chops begin to salivate. Their first New York project in 10 years, La Sirena is lively, yet elegant. The fare is elevated, yet playful. The kind of place you can take a date, a client, or a party time and time again and never tire of it.
Because Brooklyn is fancy now
From Chef Missy Robbins, an exploration into lighter side of Italian cooking. Warm and rustic with the ambience of a classic Italian dining room, it’s not the Bamonte’s of BK past. And the mark of any Italian must-visit, they simply nail the Cacio e Pepe.
Because they ignited a French fare revolution
Once buddies Taavo Somer of Freemans and Carlos Quirarte of The Smile unleashed some French New Wave fare, French this-and-that started popping up everywhere. The menu combines vegetable creations with heartier selects like Braised Oxtail with Mirepoix and Grilled Batard and Grilled Wagyu. And with house bread from Roberta’s, how could you go wrong?
Because, yes, Momofuku can do whatever they want
A name that hardly requires an introduction, David Chang blessed Chelsea with a Korean-Italian eatery — his first in five years. Don’t be fooled by the fusion. "If people want to call it fusion, well f*** you. It is fusion," Chang mentioned to Lucky Peach. "Tell me what food isn’t fusion?" Touché. Whatever it is, we’re sold.
Because Michelin stars still mean something
If you had the opportunity to partake in one of Fredrik Berselius’s three-hour tasting dinners at the previous iteration of Aska in Kinfolk Studios, you knew that when the dapper gent set up a permanent (and larger) shop on South 5th, we were in for something quite special. And so it came no surprise when the Nordic chef was awarded two Michelin stars within months of opening.
Because farm-to-table still means something — occasionally
Eating in New York can be so intimidating that you start to veer from the original concept: fresh food, prepared thoughtfully, served elegantly. But not here. Olmstead does farm-to-table with the help of a delightful on-site minifarm. Better yet, the fare is as affordable as it is fanciful. You will likely see one of us there.
Because WTF is on my plate?
It looks cool because it is cool. Llama Inn is an adventure in authentic Peruvian eats. You want a goat neck? They’ve got a goat neck. But if you want a rotisserie chicken and tangy ceviche — well, they’ve got that too. Chef Erik Ramirez is a first-generation Peruvian-American via New Jersey who has notched Eleven Madison Park and a few other buzzworthy eateries on his belt. But here, taste certainly takes the foreground to pomp and circumstance.
For the rest of our year-end content ...