New York City Restaurants
945 Madison Ave., Midtown
On the ground floor of the still-buzzy Met Breuer (the contemporary art annex of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, several blocks away from the main building), Flora Bar is the latest project from the team behind downtown favorites Estela and Café Altro Paradiso. But here’s the real reason it’s great: Flora Bar is the opposite from the sterile, often mediocre restaurants that are typical at many of the big museums. The space itself is striking: soaring ceilings, huge windows that overlook the expansive outdoor seating area and the modest garden. The menu is a mix of Japanese- and Spanish-influenced tapas, like scallop crudo with Asian pear and ramps, snow crab with miso mayonnaise, and lamb ribs with yogurt and mojo verde (a mixture of garlic, cumin, cilantro, and olive oil).
Pier 6, Brooklyn Heights
When Grand Banks opened on a 142-foot wooden sailing ship on the Hudson River in 2014, it became an instant warm-weather hit, as much for the novelty factor as for the oysters and lobster rolls. Last summer, the same team (brothers Alex and Miles Pincus) brought their concept to Brooklyn, on a 140-foot 1924 schooner docked just off Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the famous bridge and all Lower Manhattan. Like its sister ship across town, Pilot offers everything you’d expect: In addition to the oysters and the lobster roll, there is a softshell crab po’boy, a tomato and watermelon salad, and a big selection of refreshing cocktails. Try the Life at Sea, a house cocktail of vodka and bitter lemon syrup.
43 Canal St., Lower East Side
Portuguese and Spanish vibes take center stage at this cozy Lower East Side spot from restaurateur Nialls Fallon and chef Nick Perkins, partners known for their Bed-Stuy restaurant, Hart’s. The menu is simple but satisfying, with a seafood bent: cockles with Vinho Verde and garlic; Maine scallops with endive and Basque peppers; a whole Boston mackerel with aioli; platters of Cape Cod and Washington State oysters. And the dishes pair well with a glass of unfortified white from the Iberian peninsula. There’s also a juicy grass-fed lamb burger and a roasted half chicken with asparagus and paprika. For the true Portuguese experience, come for Sunday brunch, when Cervo’s serves a classic fisherman’s breakfast, consisting of sardines, house-cured trout, and pickled red peppers on toasted sourdough.
227 Mulberry St., Nolita
This joint venture between By Chloe founder Samantha Wasser and chef Eden Grinshpan (of the Cooking Channel’s Eden Eats) feels like a groovy version of Marrakech (or, at least, Palm Springs), with decorative neon palm trees and camels, cacti, and geometric motifs sprinkled throughout. The fast-casual Middle Eastern–style salads and mezze are the kind of flavorful, healthy food you can come back to often without getting bored, and the bowls (harissa curry shakshuka; Moroccan lamb meatballs with preserved lemon, date couscous, and cilantro) make convenient on-the-go lunches, not to mention satisfying Instagram fodder.
Una Pizza Napoletana
175 Orchard St., Lower East Side
Anthony Mangieri is considered the king of Neopolitan pizza in NYC. This new and improved version of his former East Village restaurant comes with an impressive slew of desserts—a tiramisu that uses lemon sponge cake instead of the traditional lady fingers, and strawberry panna cotta—by Wildair and Contra chef Fabian Von Hauske Valtierra. There are also a few appetizers now, the best of which include burrata with tomatoes in lobster oil, and marinated white asparagus with bottarga and cured egg yolk. The pizza, of course, is still the main draw, and Mangieri hasn’t lost his touch at this new space: Perfect, simple margherita, bianca, and marinara pies are unbeatable.
Bombay Bread Bar
195 Spring St., Soho
Chef Floyd Cardoz grew up biking around Mumbai, India. It follows that he became an expert in Indian street food. His new SoHo restaurant celebrates the foundation of so many of these snacks—namely, the puffy, buttery, herby kulcha flatbreads slathered in spicy chutneys. We loved the Indian version of a panini, with spiced lamb, cucumber raita, and mustard mashed potatoes pressed between two slivers of toasted naan (he calls it the lamb naanini). But there are also plenty of less carb-y options, like the Bengali banana-leaf-wrapped halibut. The interior, meanwhile, was dreamed up by Kris Moran, a member of filmmaker Wes Anderson’s creative team who worked on The Darjeeling Limited. As you’d expect, it’s a whimsical collection of Pop Art, citrus-patterned oilcloths, and entire walls covered in Bollywood-inspired murals by artist Maria Qamar.
241 W. Broadway, Tribeca
Balthazar and Minetta Tavern alums Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson got together and decided to redo the idea of the French brasserie. What they came up with is Frenchette in Tribeca. The proof is in delicious if unpronounceable dishes like the brouillade—a buttery, garlicky scrambled egg and escargot dish. Technically, it’s an hors d’oeuvre, but who cares about technicalities? This could easily stand in as an entrée (especially with a side of charred carrots with labneh). And while ordering roast chicken at a restaurant might seem like a cop-out, Frenchette’s is perfectly roasted and presented on a bed of croutons that soak up all the drippings, along with a little pot of puréed potatoes. The biodynamic wine list, meanwhile, is a departure from the usual and a very welcome one.
Studio at The Freehand
23 Lexington Ave., Flatiron
Although restaurateur Gabe Stulman has five restaurants under his belt in the West Village (including Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery), this is his first venture into hotel dining. Studio is located on the second floor of the cool-kid hangout of the moment, the Freehand (which also has outposts in Miami, Chicago, and L.A.), in the Flatiron district. The theme is an homage to Stulman’s Jewish-Moroccan background, with influences drawn from North Africa and the Middle East. You could make a meal out of the small plates here, and we’d go for the spring pea hummus, served with a side of lamb merguez and pita; the berbere shrimp with fennel and blood orange; and the eggplant mirza with roasted tomato. The space itself resembles a private club more than a traditional restaurant, full of low-slung, sheepskin-covered leather chairs, cozy banquettes, and a soothing palette of warm browns and dark blues.
802 Ninth Ave., Hell's Kitchen
After chef Julian Medina scored a hit in Astoria, Queens, with his Mexican cantina Tacuba four years ago, he opened this outpost in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, with a bigger menu and more seating, two years later. The concept is classic Mexican with a few creative twists thrown in: chili rellenos filled with quinoa, mushrooms, and kale, chili-dusted fluke tacos with a kohlrabi-habanero slaw, and carne asada with a side of bone marrow fried rice. The atmosphere is generally boisterous, thanks in part to a big cocktail menu (we’re partial to the frozen tamarind margaritas), as well as the mezcal and tequila selection (there are hundreds—really, hundreds—of bottles on offer).
177 Chrystie St., Lower East Side
A partnership between Taavo Somer (Freeman’s) and Carlos Quiararte (The Smile), the French-inspired food at Le Turtle is supposed to be great, but people are really coming for the experience: the wild interior (two-way mirrors, shiny surfaces, neon lights, and so on) seems like a sight to be seen.
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