Kate Krader shares new discoveries from the chef trail: Manhattan Mexican, Alabama comfort food and more.
Rubirosa in New York City

© Amina Hassen

New-School Italian

New York City: It isn't always easy to find good Italian food in Little Italy. Rubirosa is a great new exception. Angelo Pappalardo learned to make pizza at Joe & Pat's, his family's Staten Island place; here, he serves pies as well as dishes like gnocchi with mini meatballs and crispy brick chicken stuffed with ham and cheese.

Holland House in Nashville

© Mimosa Arts Photography

Cocktail Haven

Nashville: In East Nashville, it's hard to say what's better at Holland House: the cocktails from Jeremiah Blake or the New Southern dishes. I missed Monday's bourbon-and-burger night (each one is half price). Still, I was perfectly happy with a Kelso Cola #2 (apricot bourbon and cola with coffee-Guinness foam) and Kentucky fried catfish with a side of field pea hoppin' john.

Trattoria Centrale in Alabama

© Bradford Daly

Pizza Before Noon

Birmingham, AL: Friends told me the pepperoni and Three Cheeser pizzas were dynamite at chef-owners Geoff Lockert and Brian Somershield's new Trattoria Centrale. Still, I had doubts about the breakfast pizza (so gimmicky, I thought). I was wrong—topped with potatoes, bacon, sausage and a fried-to-order egg, it's excellent.

Recipe Picks Inspired by Kate Krader's Finds:

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni.
Take your chicken parm to the next level with delicious pepperoni.
| Credit: © Quentin Bacon
Classic Southern Fried Chicken
Pizza Vesuvio with the Works. Photo © Anson Smart
Credit: © Anson Smart

June Restaurant Tip Sheet

Kate Krader shares new discoveries from the chef trail: Manhattan Mexican, Alabama comfort food and more.

Pago in Salt Lake City, Utah

Pago's duck breast with fingerling potatoes. Photo © Ramin Rahimian.

Pago, Salt Lake City

A good wine list in Utah? My colleague Kristin Donnelly was very happy with the one she found at Pago; the 2008 K Vintners Viognier she ordered was one of 20 wines by the glass. "The place feels very Brooklyn," she says about chef Michael Richey's market-driven recipes, like roast quail with huckleberry sauce.

Local Three Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta, GA

Local Three's Todd Mussman, Chris Hall and Ryan Turner. Photo © Gregory Miller.

Local Three Kitchen & Bar; Atlanta, GA

With pig-themed art and velvet Elvises on the walls, this Southern comfort food spot has a fun vibe. The charcuterie section of the menu is labeled "Notorious P.I.G.," and at brunch, I got to walk into the kitchen and help myself to biscuits and gravy.

Ham and High in Montgomery, AL

Ham and High prepares occasional dinners at nearby Hampstead Farms. Photo © Kris Kendrick/KBK Photography.

Ham and High; Montgomery, AL

Located in an idyllic, sustainable planned community, this lovely restaurant is so close to a farm that chef Joe Wolfson can walk down the block to pick arugula for topping his house-made sausage pizza.

Alex Stupak of Empellon in New York, NY

Alex Stupak traded in his pastry tools to make excellent tacos. Photo © Gregor Halenda

Empellón; New York City

"Here's the story," Alex Stupak told me. "A pastry chef likes Mexican food, has never cooked it, but decides to do it anyway." I know Stupak for his avant-garde desserts at NYC's WD-50; now he's offering fantastic savory dishes like smoked plantain sopes (masa tarts) and tongue tacos.