New York Restaurants and Bakeries

 

Here’s a round-up of places I visited recently in New York City. One happy change (which is also happening in cities elsewhere) is the proliferation of excellent bakeries making top-quality artisan bread, as well as bakeries with a global focus. While Americans don’t buy bread daily, as the French do, you can get terrific bread and pastries if you know where to look.

Restaurants

Bâtard

Bâtard is what modern French (and European) cooking should be, done with respect for tradition, but using it as a jumping off point, rather than strictly adhering to old formulas for the sake of whatever. It was hard not to wolf down the stellar housemade brioche buns topped with wisps of fleur de sel, but we saved room for seared scallops in saffron sauce, Arctic char with spring peas and favas, and finishing up with a soufflé (above, a riff off Salzburger Nockerl) baked over a confit of perfect strawberries that were so good, I scraped the dish clean. Kudos to pastry chef Julie Elkind for creating a dessert that has me thinking about it weeks later. The seedy bread they serve with the brioche, also made on the premises, was one of the best breads I’ve had. (239 West Broadway.)

Upland

It’s hard to say whether the sausage & kale pizza with young pecorino and stracciatella cheese, braised short ribs under a hillock of herbs and shaved asparagus, or shrimp marinated in tomatoes and garlic with jasmin rice was the top dish of the evening, but my cousin’s wife said the shrimp was “probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.” As memorable as the rest of the meal was, I’d have to agree with her. Named after the town in California that chef Justin Smillie comes from, each plate evokes a west coast passion for freshness of ingredients. The cookie plate for dessert was also an embarrassment of riches. Rumor has it that the cheeseburger at lunch is one of the best in the city. It’s on my docket for my next visit. (345 Park Avenue South.)

Via Carota

I’m wowed by the food at Via Carota every time I’ve eaten here. I always want to try everything, but the Cacio e Pepe pasta really stands out for its simplicity and is perfection in a bowl, so I usually go with that. (Nothing wrong with having good habits, right?) Everything here, though, is as close to perfect as it can get, including the deceptively simple green salad. I also like that they have small (25cl/1 cup) pitchers of wine, just right for sharing at lunch. One downside is the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so go for lunch or try it hit it at off-hours. (51 Grove Street.)

The team that owns Via Carota just opened Bar Pisellino across the street. I wandered in one afternoon while waiting for friends. They’re still finding their footing but once I got to the bar, I had an excellent White Negroni and munched on Cacio e Pepe-flavored potato chips. Using Italian aperitivo bars as a reference, the drink list offers several low-alcohol drinks.

Misi

Normally a tough reservation, Misi now serving lunch opens up entirely new possibilities, and tables, making it possible to get into this pasta hot-spot. Missy Robbin’s pastas are justifiably revered, and while I crave her deceptively simple rigatoni with spicy tomato sauce at her other restaurant in Brooklyn, Lilia, the Corzetti with mint, Italian broccoli, and pinenuts at Misi, is a favorite, as are the Spinach and Mascarpone tortellini in brown butter with dried ricotta and Buffalo-butter slicked Fettuccini with aged Parmesan. The Grilled baby artichokes, when in season, served with mint salsa verde are obligatory to order as a starter. Finish with housemade Mint stracciatella gelato, if you know what’s good for you, as my nonna (my decidedly non-Italian grandmother) used to say. (329 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Han Dynasty

I don’t always get excited about the Chinese food in Manhattan and Brooklyn, in spite of people passing on les bonnes adresses to me. But Han Dynasty usually delivers. This mini-chain offers up Szechuan specialties which include Dan Dan noodles, sauteed pea shoots (which Romain keeps asking why we don’t get them in Paris – if someone knows, please pass it on to me and I’ll tell him), and terrific wontons in chili oil. (You can skip the Kung Pao chicken.) Lunch is a deal. (90 3rd Avenue, check website for other addresses.)

Claro

This may be my favorite restaurant in the U.S. right now. If I told you that it has a Michelin star, you might be tempted to blow it off. But don’t. Mexican food is one of the great cuisines of the world, and the food at Claro! is rooted in Oaxaca. I started off with a mezcal-like cocktail made with Estancia Raicilla, which can’t be called mezcal due to geographic designations, but its similar smokiness lent an alluring backbone to my cocktail. The star dish of the night was the Yellowfin tostada (above) with Cara Cara oranges, kumquats, pasilla chile, and chicharrón (crunchy pork skin) on a housemade tortilla. The wild mushroom memela with goat cheese, epazoté and pasilla was also superb; the especially engaging waitress nodded vigorously when we ordered it. This isn’t a taco joint but it’s not fancy either, hence my apprehension about touting its Michelin star. Although it’s tempting to order everything on the menu, the food is quite filling so just remember, you can always go back. (284 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Maison Yaki

We hit this hotspot the first week they opened and it seems they’ve already hit their stride. Some of the restaurant is devoted to walk-ins, including the breezy outdoor space out back with a pétanque court which I’m sure will be put to good use come summer. The specialties here are French/Japanese mash-ups. Yakis (skewers) make up the main courses, but the firsts really blew us away. I didn’t know ducks rillettes could taste so good. (I was eating with a food writer friend and we both paused, and were like, whoa, these are good!) Lowly escargots are made a lot more interesting doused with herby shiso butter. (Sorry butter and garlic…) When I ordered the puffy Pommes Dauphine, the waiter assured me I made the right choice, and he was right. And the warm, house-made baguettes with yuzukosho butter I could eat every morning for breakfast. Nothing on the menu is more than $10, which is subject to change, but I hope nothing here does. (626 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Frankel’s

Some say the New York deli is dead. This family-owned deli in Greenpoint offers smoked fish, smoked and braised meat, all top-notch and served at a counter. I assumed people on Instagram that the well-piled pastrami sandwich I posted, I was sharing, to stave off any questions about how I seemingly eat so much. But if no one was watching, I’ll admit that I could probably polish off a whole one. (631 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Grand Army and Maison Premiere

These two bars are the best of the genre, with very, very good cocktails and bar food that matches the quality of the drinks. Both places have oyster happy hour, where fresh oysters are only $1 a piece, hours listed on their websites. Both places also have inventive cocktails, with those at Maison Premiere incorporating French spirits, so I always feel right at home. Grand Army takes reservations and I suggest you make them if you want to get a seat. (Grand Army: 336 State Street, Maison Premiere: 298 Bedford Avenue.)

Fornino

One of the great things about New York is that there are lots of places to eat outside. And since smoking is forbidden, you can enjoy your food en plein air. Romain always wants to eat overlooking the water, which isn’t always possible in New York but Fornino on Pier 6 in Brooklyn offers up wood-fired pizzas not far from the river. Warm weekends it gets quite crowded and it’s less pleasant than during the week, as the pizza oven (and the bar) get backed up. (Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park.)

M. Shanghai

I met up with Michael Rhulman, a ne plus ultra drinking and dining buddy, and his wife Ann Hood for drinks and dumplings. The wontons in spicy peanut sauce are a must-order. The Manhattans are pretty good as well. (292 Grand Street, Brooklyn.)

Bar Sardine

The website says Bar Sardine is “laid back” but when I went with my friend, spirits writer Brad Parsons, the place was hopping. Famous for their Bloody Marys, extra-friendly bar director Brian Bartels wrote the book on them, although we arrived at 10pm, so it seemed a little late (or early?) for one. After a cocktail tasting we attended beforehand at Momofuku, I went with orange wine, something uncommon in Paris, which was the right choice with the especially crisp pig ears with hot pepper jelly and deviled eggs with chickpea puree, which we followed up with Fedora burgers served with bbq mayo, smoked cheddar, and les frites. A good time was had by all. (183 West 10th Street.)

The Kunjip

While I like Miss Korea (warning: their website opens with music, which scared the kimchi out of me), and it’s fun to hit the salad bar-style Woorjip for a quick Korean bite, I think it’s good to mix things up in life, and hit The Kunjip for lunch. Lunch menus in Koreatown offer bargains and my Kalbi beef (above) was $19 and came with six banchans, soup, and an overly generous bowl of cold buckwheat noodles. The young woman next to me, who was also dining alone and wasn’t familiar with Korean dining, was startled when the server came over with a tray overloaded with side dishes, soup, etc. just for her, protesting she didn’t order all those things, until they explained that they were included. She didn’t eat as much as I did. I finished everything. (32 West 32nd Street.)


Tip: A number of people on social media asked about getting into high-demand restaurants. Restaurants that are on RESY allow you to set a notification and will send you a text if a table opens up on the date and time(s) you’ve requested. I was on the notification list for a lunch table at Misi, which was completely booked the day I wanted to go. Within a few hours, I got several notifications of dining times that opened up, one of which I jumped on. Some places also hold back reservations from online booking services so you can sometimes call or walk in (due to no-shows), although best to have a back-up if you decide to just show up, as that strategy may not yield seats.

Bakeries and Sweets

Stick with Me

I was in New York to tape a few television shows and in the green room, other guests on the show insisted I stop in at Stick with Me. When I looked at the website, I wasn’t so sure: colored chocolates don’t usually do it for me. But I had to admit, once in the shop, the chocolates were gorgeous and perfectly presented, and made me want to try them all. Each chocolate made by Susanne Yoon (former pastry chef at Per Se) was creamy inside, but had the intensity of its intended flavors, from guava-passion fruit to peanut butter & jelly, as well as bourbon-maple pecan and my favorite, kalamansi meringue pie, with a tangy kiss of citrus. (202A Mott Street.)

Supermoon Bakehouse

Supermoon Bakehouse is my happy place in New York City, a whimsical pastry wonderland with boldly-flavored croissants. They weren’t baking the “Everything” croissants the day I was there, which are filled with cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, topped with a multitude of seeds, but there were Reuben croissants rolled up with pastrami, housemade mustard, sauerkraut and topped with a cornichon. You’ve got to hand it to Ry Stephen, the owner and baker; no one can dial up a croissant like he can, especially his chocolate ones (above) filled with dark chocolate pastry cream and cocoa-laminated dough. But even if you’re not interested in fillings or frostings, his standard croissant laminated with French beurre d’Isigny, is one of the best croissants you’ll have anywhere. I had a scoop of his sweet corn ice cream with freeze-dried corn, which was amazing. Rumor has it the soft serve croissant butter ice cream is also a winner. (120 Rivington Street.)

L’imprimerie

I loved meeting French baker Gus Reckel, aka: Monsieur Gus, who starts baking at 4am to prepare a line-up of breads that beat many of the bakeries of his homeland. His Chocolate Chip Cookies have won kudos for being contenders for the absolute best in the city, beating the locals at their own game. My friend (and chauffeur) Nato and I tried his new vegan version, which was also absolutely delicious. (1524 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Bourke Street Bakery

The fine folks from this popular bakery in Australia have opened up in New York, causing such a buzz that when it opened, it was hard to squeeze in. Many were Aussies, scarfing down their legendary sausage rolls with chili sauce, or the famed custard tart with spicy ginger and a brûléed crust. I came for the bread, which was as good as I remembered. (15 East 28th Street.)

Ole & Steen

This American outpost of a Danish bakery serves up open-faced sandwiches and Scandinavian pastries. My chocolate-covered marshmallow puff, on a crisp shortbread, was light, fluffy…and sweet. The rugged bread that was a solid mass of grains was hearty and filling. Open from breakfast through dinner. (873 Broadway.)

Michaeli

The former chef at famed Breads bakery, a transplant from Tel Aviv, presents his own babkas, available in chocolate, poppy seed-hazelnut, and cinnamon, plus kugelhopfs and rugelachs, as well as a selection of burekas; bite-size Middle Eastern pastries. The feta-filled puff pastries treat we had would have shined brighter if hot from the oven, but it was nice to sit in the modern room and munch on flaky chocolate rugelach. Next time I want to try one of the pretty alfajores cookies. (115 Division Street.)

Fabrique

Sweden has also planted a bakery flag in New York at Fabrique. The knotted cardamom rolls (above) were delicious but I was really into the granola bar; a solid block of seeds and grains, with dried cranberries providing some tartness. A little off-the-beaten-track, with a line up of nice-looking breads and croissants (shown at the top of this post), this is exactly the kind of bakery you want in your neighborhood. It’s no secret, though; according to Eater, they have 20 locations in Stockholm and five in London. (348 West 14th Street.)

Donut Pub

My search for a great Black & White cookie led me here. (There’s a recipe for them in my book, Ready for Dessert.) AT the Donut Pub, doughnuts are made with everything, from salted butter caramel to bacon, which lined the shelves and are featured in the window. But I was there for the Black & White. The cookie was HUGE; literally big enough to feed four. It was quite thick, and a good one. But if they made them thinner, which would tilt the ratio of icing to cookie more in favor of the frosting, I probably could have finished it off by myself. A big plus was the terrific salesperson, who kept calling me “honey.” (203 West 14th Street.)

Ciao Gloria

My friend Renato, who founded Baked bakery (who kindly squired me around for a few days), is striking out on his own with an Italian-accented cafe and bakery in Brooklyn. They’re still building the venue, but you can follow their progress on their Instagram feed, and I’ll see you there when they open. (550 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn.)

Pizza

When in New York, I always get a pepperoni square at Prince Street Pizza, but also discovered Scarr’s Pizza on the Lower East Side, a compact pizzeria meant to replicate an old-style New York pizzeria. (Well, old for the 1980s.) Another favorite pizza in town is the Roni Supreme at Emmy Squared, a Detroit-style pie with pepperoni, smeared with Calabrian chili paste.

I also discovered D. Coluccio & Sons in Bensonhurst. (If you’re in that area, you might want to check out Kerekes baking supply company. I didn’t make it, but if you’re a baker it might be worth a stop in there, too.) Dom Coluccio and his family have been importing foods from Italy for generations and while there, a number of Italians were doing their shopping, which a few that I spoke with, said they’d been doing there for decades.

Being an importer, prices are less than elsewhere. There are too many items to mention, but I picked up a bag of “smoked wheat” pasta, which pasta expert Maureen Fant told me a few days later over dinner, was a holdover from the days when poor people would use the sweepings of the pasta factory floor to make noodles, toasting the wheat first. I also found salted Sicilian sardines (a large tin, which packed nicely in my suitcase), the tiniest Bialetti moka pot I’ve ever seen (because I can’t resist anything in miniature), and a few sandwiches to share with my friends made from their inviting selection of salumi and fromaggi.

Other New York Addresses and Posts

City Bakery

Mansoura

La Newyorkina

Ovenly

Ice & Vice

Doughnut Plant

Republic of Booza

New York City Dining and Travel Notes

Eating Out and About in New York City

Eating Around Queens

All New York City posts (archives)

 

 

 

 

New York Restaurants and Bakeries

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30 comments

  • Rochelle Fox
    June 6, 2019 1:08pm

    Thank you for this list! I live in Manhattan and I feel like there’s a new Bakery opening up every day. It’s hard to know which ones are worth trying.

    One bakery that I love is Runner Street bakery and it’s across the street from Claro. I completely agree about Claro. The food is truly mind blowing and the mezcal isn’t bad either!! Everyone should go there!! Reply

  • June 6, 2019 2:13pm
    David Lebovitz

    Rachel: Yes, there are so many bakeries opening in so many cities across the U.S. (I keep seeing lists online for other cities.) It’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? I like Runner & Stone a lot, especially their Rye Ciabatta bread although I didn’t get to go on this trip. Claro is great but some of my stubborn Manhattan pals won’t make the trip – but it’s worth it, isn’t it? Reply

    • Rochelle Fox
      June 6, 2019 4:48pm

      It’s so worth it! The tostada is absolutely divine. Hard to imagine people being stubborn to go to Brooklyn for excellent food. The subway is fairly close and easy. I just heard there’s a great new Vietnamese in Park slope from the cooks from the Slanted Door in San Francisco. Gonna try that next.

      Runner & Stone is at USQ farmers mkt every Saturday. They make an excellent pretzel and I love the almond chocolate croissant.

      I found your blog easy to read and yes ads pop up, but they do on everyone’s blogs. Reply

  • tim
    June 6, 2019 3:58pm

    David,
    Not sure if it is possible, can you start linking the locations into a mapping program. Might be easier for people who don’t know NY and visiting. I am sure it is the same for paris.

    You can have a globe with the points and they could link to your articles.

    I only say that because some people how no idea what it takes to get to some places in brooklyn when visiting. Reply

    • June 7, 2019 12:47pm
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Tim, I don’t know how to do that but I did add addresses because when I travel, I use Google Maps and you can tap the address and it’ll tell you how long it’ll take to get there, and the best way to do so by walking, driving or taking public transit. I know that there is a way to make your own map of addresses on your phone (or computer) using Google Maps, but I don’t know how to do it. Reply

  • Monique
    June 6, 2019 4:07pm

    Wonderful list! We live in SF (across the street from Susie T!) but our son is starting his 2d year at Pratt in Brooklyn in the fall so look forward to adding these to our list of faves in NYC (adore Via Carota!).
    Merci, Monique
    PS Is there a button you can add so we can email your articles? It may be there but it’s hiding in plain sight if so… Reply

    • June 6, 2019 4:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, Via Carota is terrific although I went on a Friday afternoon at 3:45pm and all the tables were filled! They recently won a James Beard award so got some extra buzz. There’s no button to email an article but you can cut and paste the URL of a post into an email and send it that way. (Say hi to Susie for me!) Reply

    • KIMBERLY
      June 11, 2019 7:44pm

      Hi Monique
      very close to Pratt, you should try a few other places on Fulton St – Emily’s Pizza and Sisters. Also in the area Aita and Locanda Vini & Olii (its in an old drug store) Reply

      • Monique
        June 11, 2019 8:01pm

        Thanks Kimberly! We’ve actually eaten at Emily’s and at that wonderful Locanda Vini & Olii – just fortuitously stumbled on that one. Aita is definitely on our list after we walked by it on our last visit, and will check out Sisters. Reply

  • Luc Brissette
    June 6, 2019 4:11pm

    I also enjoy going to Amy’s bread either on 9th or at Chelsea Market. Reply

  • June 6, 2019 4:47pm

    I’m always happy when you come back to NYC. Your list of restaurants a bakeries expands my repertoire of places to eat. We fell in love with Supermoon Bakery last year after your visit to the 92nd St Y.

    Next time you are here you might try PRINT. It is in the INKHotel Building at 48th and 11th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen. It is a farm to table place with great food and is rarely full. The rooftop bar is on the 16th floor and offers great views on all directions. I think you will like it. Reply

  • Stuart Itter
    June 6, 2019 5:16pm

    Great list David. Via Carota is on the best lists. Samin Nosrat just published an article on Via Carota’s salad which she considered the best. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/magazine/best-green-salad-recipe.html Jody Williams has perfect taste. It made Buvette which is even in Paris now. People go to her places because they appreciate that taste. Pete Wells wrote a review attacking her diners for visibly valuing her precision. Pete is big on place pinochle players are at home. Reply

  • jen
    June 6, 2019 8:32pm

    if i wasn’t a member of the group called “citizens for a lesser queens” i’d advocate for you to take a trip out there, so never mind Reply

    • June 6, 2019 11:15pm
      David Lebovitz

      I did a whole post on Queens (since there’s so much diversity there.) I added it to the list of links at the end of the post. Reply

  • June 7, 2019 12:25am

    Great list! A friend served the Via Carota salad at our book club meeting the other day, and it was amazingly delicious. Thanks for the link to the recipe! I love anything with shallots. Thanks for your post, David. Reply

    • stuart itter
      June 7, 2019 12:47am

      Funny how shallots have emerged as the great ingredient of French salads. For many years, those salads were defined by garlic, mustard, tarragon, chervil, and parsley. Reply

    • June 7, 2019 12:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you liked the salad. Some scoff at ordering a green salad at a restaurant, reasoning they can make it at home, but it is a very (very) good green salad. Nice of Samin to share the recipe! Reply

  • Gavrielle
    June 7, 2019 2:50am

    Great list for my next New York visit!

    “strictly adhering to old formulas for the sake of whatever” – I recently saw this described as “peer pressure from dead people”:). Reply

  • Elizabeth
    June 7, 2019 8:27pm

    Thanks for sharing! I live in Brooklyn and have been to many on this list, but get lazy about trying new places.

    Love Claro, so was almost disappointed by its Michelin star, because now it’s even harder to get into! I agree it’s worth a trip to Bk. Haven’t been able to get into Maison Yaki, only reservations available have been so late :(

    Runner & Stone makes a delicious seeded miche you may like (I remember you posted seeded muffins recently!)

    If you’re up for a pizza adventure, I’d recommend the grandma pizza from L&B Spumoni Gardens. It’s probably another 20 minutes deeper into Brooklyn than D. Coluccio. Reply

    • Erin
      June 12, 2019 7:17pm

      Runner & Stone produces some of the best bread and pastries in NYC and since moving to Queens (not LIC) after living a few blocks from it, I have not found its equal. The buckwheat baguette <3. The kouign amann. The croissant.

      Excuse me while I weep. Reply

  • Phyllis Dickler
    June 9, 2019 2:06pm

    Sorry to say, the cheeseburger at Upland was no better than one at 5 Guys. 2 thin patties instead of a nice, thick, juicy, medium rare burger. At 24$ it was barely acceptable. Added avocado should not have made it so expensive. The cookies I bake are much better than the 16$ basket at Upland. There were about 5 cookies in the basket. The ambiance was very nice but I do Not think it is an outstanding restaurant. Reply

  • Susan
    June 9, 2019 8:17pm

    Perfect timing! Our daughter starts college in NYC this year. My husband and I are looking forward to having an excuse to visit NYC and just spend a few days eating! Reply

  • Lury
    June 10, 2019 6:25pm

    David,
    Thank you for sharing all of your beautiful finds, but next time you have to place a warning label on the title.
    I am currently sit at my desk with a puddle of drool in front of me… I am so hungry I think I will need to take an early lunch.
    Do you write notes to employers for early lunch excuses.
    Again thanks for sharing
    Lury Reply

  • Kristen
    June 11, 2019 2:21am

    Thanks for sharing this well written and lengthy post on your NYC food adventures. Reply

  • Yulia
    June 12, 2019 1:03am

    D. Coluccio has small package of ready to cook risotto, many flavors available. They are my absolute favorite! Perfect for anyone who doesn’t cook Italian often but occasionally wants to throw an Italian fare.
    Their cheese selection is also amazing. Reply

  • jan
    June 13, 2019 6:49pm

    Great post as usual but what in the world is the 2nd photo of? It looks delicious whatever it is and I’d like to know. I wish your photo’s were captioned, even invisibly with a hover title would help.

    Also, that tostada tho, …wow Reply

  • June 13, 2019 9:01pm
    David Lebovitz

    jan: That was the soufflé at Bâtard. It was really good!

    Yulia: Yes, they have some amazing things, including their cheese selection. I bought an aged Parmesan that was excellent. Reply

  • Dina Brown
    June 14, 2019 9:37am

    Any bakery still making Jewish Corn Bread. It’s some what like a dense smooth rye type of bread. Also where can you get those wonderful Italian pastries filled with a sourish tasting cream. Reply

  • Mel
    June 17, 2019 12:17am

    Is the mozzarella pictured from D. Coluccio & Sons?

    The next time you’re in Gowanus, check out Baba’s Pierogies if you haven’t been. Thanks for the post! Reply

    • June 17, 2019 9:10am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it is. I’ve seen that pierogies shop but have never been in. (I still miss the Kiev in Manhattan!) But will stop in on a future visit… Reply

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