Go List: New York City
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.
Photo © David Nicolas
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.
Photo © Melissa Hom
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 delicious—diners might puzzle over how he smokes his truffle pasta, or they might just devour it. We loved: Squab with spiced milk and chestnut crème.
Photo courtesy of Corton
Enoteca at Del Posto
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.
Photo courtesy of Gramercy Tavern
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.
Photo courtesy of Jean Georges
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.
Photo courtesy of Kefi
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.
Photo courtesy of Le Bernardin
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
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 ssäm—a 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.
Photo courtesy of Momofuku Ssäm Bar
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.
Photo courtesy of Shake Shack
When the Pig opened in 2005, it was known mostly for its celebrity owners—Jay-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 lunch—there's no wait and the midday menu has a terrific cubano sandwich.
Photo © Lucy Schaeffer