Sullivan Street Bakery founder Jim Lahey is one of the country's elite bread bakers, so when he decided to open a pizza place, it was huge news. Toppings at Co. (a.k.a. Company) are remarkable, like the fresh spinach on the three-cheese Popeye'a favorite of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's, one of Co.'s owners. But what people can't stop talking about is the crust: Made with Lahey's famous no-knead dough, it's both chewy and crisp, and ever-so-slightly tangy.
When chef Michael White opened Convivio, he worked extra-hard on the pasta. "Don't believe people who say pasta is simple," he says. "It's incredibly complex." White's is outstanding, and it's one of
the city's best deals: Diners can
get it on the $59 four-course menu. We loved: Tomato-pancetta tortelli with butter-pepper sauce.
Drew Nieporent has a habit of opening excellent restaurants on West Broadway. In 1985, it was the seminal Montrachet. Last year, he remodeled the kitchen for chef Paul Liebrandt's 6-foot-5-inch frame, and the pair launched Corton. Liebrandt's avant-garde French cooking is provocative and deliciousdiners might puzzle over how he smokes his truffle
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Enoteca at Del Posto
A New York Best Restaurant Value: Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's amazing wine bar next to Del Posto's fancy dining room serves lardo butter with homemade breads and earthy dishes like orrechiette with stewed rabbit. A five-course dinner: $52.
Almost two years ago, Michael Anthony (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) took over the Gramercy Tavern kitchen from Craft chef-owner and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio (a BNC himself, in 1991). Anthony obsessively sources ingredients for his New American menu from the nearby Union Square farmers' market. We loved: Smoked-to-order Spanish mackerel with brussels sprouts.
A New York Best Restaurant Value: The superb restaurant was already one of the city's best places to eat before überchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten made it virtually impossible to resist: The $28 lunch menu lists iconic dishes like scallops in caper-raisin emulsion.
A New York Best Restaurant Value:Michael Psilakis (an F&W Best New Chef 2008) relocated Kefi to a bigger space but still serves Greek specialties like succulent pork souvlaki ($14). He's added two key things: a reservationist and credit card machine.
Anyone who's eaten at this superlative restaurant won't be surprised by chef-owner Eric Ripert's philosophy: "We are completely obsessed with fish," he says. "Twenty-four-seven we think, cook, eat and create around fish." Also laudable is Ripert's environmental commitment: He won't serve overfished seafood. We loved: Kumamoto oyster tasting.
It's not easy to describe the greatness of Ssäm Bar to someone who's never heard of its owner, David Chang (an F&W Best New Chef 2006). Seating is at a counter
or at picnic tables, and the signature dish is bo ssäma roast pork butt big enough to serve 10. But when details about the brilliant, Asian-oriented, pork-centric menu emerge, the uninitiated are reassured. The bo ssäm, for instance, has been crusted with brown sugar and roasted until it's falling-apart tender. We loved: Pork-belly buns.
Über restaurateur Danny Meyer revitalized Madison Square Park in 2004 with the opening of this take-out kiosk serving Shack-cago Dogs with the works (including Rick's Picks relish and a sprinkling of celery salt), excellent burgers and extra thick frozen custards. The new Upper West Side outpost has all the same great offerings as the original, but shorter lines.
When the Pig opened in 2005, it was known mostly for its celebrity ownersJay-Z and Mario Batali, to name two. Now April Bloomfield (an F&W Best New Chef 2007) is famous in her own right for
her excellent Italian-inflected gastropub menu. She also cooks at the John Dory,
an elegant fish restaurant. We loved: Ricotta gnudi with sage brown butter. Insider tip: Go
for lunchthere's no wait and the midday menu has a terrific cubano sandwich.