Food, Food Everywhere and Not a Dish to Miss

By Sean Frankel

 

You would need a lifetime to experience the multitude of cuisines in New York City. With over 20,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone, it is no wonder why the "city that never sleeps" is also the dining capital of the world. On these streets, you can enjoy a Four-Star meal, recline in the most fashionable décor or discover an emerging chef.

2005 YEAR IN REVIEW

Steakhouses were the main course on New York City’s restaurant scene. Flames, a top-rated steakhouse in Westchester, began searing dry aged meats in the Financial District while Le Carne Grill opened its doors in Midtown East. Wolfgang’s and Blair Perrone received instant acclaim from Midtown East guests. Guests order their favorite cuts at Dylan Prime, Tribeca’s latest "hot spot", and enjoy USDA Prime over lap dances at Adam Perry Lang's Robert's. Steak is the rave at Frankie and Johnnies, a former Theater District speakeasy and William Jack Degel's Uncle Jack’s serves world famous Kobe steak. For those who prefer French influenced grills, BLT Steak is ideal and live jazz is the perfect compliment at Marc Roth's Westside Steakhouse.

2005 also witnessed a more relaxed and tolerant dress code. From Four-Star establishments like Masa to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, restaurants now openly accept jeans or khakis, button down shirts and of course, Gucci loafers. Though some restaurant goers snicker at this youth inspired casual attire, most diners prefer eating their meals in self-selected comfort.

RESTAURANT GUIDE

With thousands of restaurants covering over 23 squares miles, New York City’s finest eateries are best previewed by neighborhood.

The Upper East Side is decorated with critically acclaimed restaurants such as Daniel, Café Boulud and Nino Selimaj’s Nino's. Chef Julian Medina directs the Mexican cuisine at Bobby Shapiro's Zocalo. Dynamic new-comers Amber and Spigolo are quickly making names for themselves.

Cross-town on the Upper West Side, 30 year old Terrace in the Sky offers expansive, unparalleled views of Central Park and superb Mediterranean/French fusion. Crowds still flock to Lincoln Center for Terry Brennan's Picholine while the father-daughter team of Tony and Marissa May treat you like family at San Domenico. Gennaro, arguably the best bang for you buck, fills your plate with family style Italian cooking. Onera prepares truly innovative Greek dishes and Cesca, the newest restaurant from renegade chef Tom Valenti, is one of the toughest reservations in town.Midtown East and Gramercy host Greek cooking and fabulous fish at Ethos, a warm escape from the 3rd

avenue bar scene and Avra, where every aspect of your meal is personally attended. Behind the scenes at March is one of New York’s most accomplished yet unknown chefs, Wayne Nish. With partner Joesph Scalice, they provide guests with an unequaled dining experience. Greeting patrons in his vintage tuxedos for 41 years, Georges Briguet, is as much a landmark as his beloved Le Perigord.

Theatre District dining has more Italian options than ever from Frankie No's Baldoria, Chef Michael Cetrulo’s Piano Due, ViceVersa and Etcetera Etcetera. Josephs by Citarella and Simon Oren’s Marsille, delight those seeking Mediterranean fare and fresh seafood. Local residents eagerly anticipate Kellari, opening in January 2006. Keep the wraps on a neighborhood favorite, the chili cart from Daisy May BBQ USA.

A visit to Flatiron must include a stop at Danny Ko’s MetroCafe & Wine Bar for one of their 103 glasses of wines. Though the wine list is extensive at Scott Bryan's Veritas, food is without doubt the kitchen’s primary focus. Engaging Chef/Owner Jay Shaffer walks the floor at his namesake Shaffer City while down the block Steve Tzolis, considered the father of Greek cuisine, heads up Periyali. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe turns twenty this year and his attention to customer service is a model for all restaurants.

Chelsea lays claim to the finest Cuban sandwich at Havana Chelsea, as innovative twists on traditional Mexican recipes arrive from Sue Torres’ Suenos. Gary Robbins offers unparalleled American fusion at the Biltmore Room while Red Cat is cool, classy and chic.

East Villagers know that Pylos, an upscale taverna, offers some of the best Greek dishes in the area and at Miracle Grill, customers rejoice in the spacious garden with excellent fare and mind-numbing margaritas. The Tasting Room is the brainchild of Colin and Renee Alvaras, a magical paradise in a studio apartment.

In the West Village and SOHO, Giorgione offers exquisite Italian fare and Alexandra is an unexpected welcome. For the freshest seafood south of 14th street, Aquagrill satisfies all appetites and Barolo maintains one of the most beautiful outdoor gardens in this famed shopping area. Guided by the sensitive hand of Gary Volkov, One if by Land, Two if by Sea continues to awe diners with its décor and inspire hundreds of wedding proposals each year. Former L'impero pastry chef, Heather Carlucci, now operates Lassi with northern Indian influences at very reasonable prices.

The Lower East Side, once considered a neighborhood more suitable for lunch pales, sandwich wrappers and push carts, now boasts such impressive establishments as WD-50, Petrosino, The Stanton Social, 71 Clinton and Libation, a former prohibition era hideaway. Jason Denton's latest wine bar and small plates eatery, Inoteca, is a special treat.

Surprising to many, Little Italy offers far more than spaghetti with meatballs. Standouts like Pellegrinos, Da Nico, and Il Cortile offer fine veal and chicken entrees. Tourists and locals should take note.

Tribeca is home to Bouley and Bouley Bakery where people can savor Head Chef David Bouley’s expertly prepared meals or learn firsthand from the master in his personally taught cooking classes. Chef Michael Cetrulo's Scalini Fedeli continues humming along, crafting dishes with delicacy while guests treasure the exquisite environment and fine food at Chanterelle. Diners also appreciate tremendous value at John Villa's Dominic and a fabulous wine selection at Marc Murphy's Landmarc. Other notable openings include Lo Scalco, Della Rovere, and Cercle Reuge and the second Mr. Chow's.

Home to every type of food imaginable, New York City also has no shortage of critics -from Andrea Strong to Zagat; Citysearch and Chowhound to Timeout and The New York Times, plus chefs, freelance writers and internet blogs.

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