What Chefs Eat in New York City
You could spend a lifetime restaurant-hopping in New York City and never have the same meal twice. But finding the truly standout spots is harder than it seems: Online review sites aren’t always reliable, knowledgeable friends may not have veered off the beaten path, and the tried-and-true places are so mobbed you’re lucky to snag a reservation three months ahead of time. So how’s a hungry traveler supposed to track down the best eats? Easy: Ask the pros.
It’s a given that chefs know great food, but even better, when your job involves a steady stream of amazing meals, you’re less likely to be blinded by hype or high price tags. We civilian food lovers might get so caught up in the pomp and circumstance of a pricey tasting menu that it’s easy to overlook less-than-stellar cuisine, but chefs can recognize greatness whether it comes expertly plated on bone china or hastily scooped into a takeout carton.
The New York City Wine and Food Festival brings some of the best culinary minds in America to five boroughs, so we polled the pros to find out which dishes they can’t miss in New York City. Read on for great Szechuan noodles, unmatched Italian food, and the deceptively simple chicken dish that two top chefs can’t stop thinking about.
“Pressed Cornish hen at I Sodi in the West Village, and a negroni classic to match.”—Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York, Tokyo, and London
“New York is my hometown, so this is a tough one. I live in a new neighborhood and I’m currently obsessed with Café China. They have authentic Szechuan cuisine that’s addictive—the dan-dan noodles and smoked duck fried rice are dishes I could eat daily!”—Amanda Freitag, host, American Diner Revival
“Any dish at Gramercy Tavern, which to me is the most iconically important American restaurant. Michael Anthony is also the most wonderful chef and a gem of a human who cooks with passion and skill every day of his life.” —Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten and The National, Athens, GA; Empire State South, Atlanta; The Florence, Savannah, GA
“Chicken sausage and sticky rice at Kuma Inn on the Lower East Side.”—Marc Forgione, Restaurant Marc Forgione and American Cut, New York City
“Go to Via Carota and have the Smoked Ricotta Ravioli with Caramelized Onions. Yum!”—Alex Guarnaschelli, Butter, New York City; judge on Chopped
“You would be remiss to miss Jonathan Waxman’s simple roast chicken at Barbuto.” —Geoffrey Zakarian, Lamb’s Club, New York City; host, Cooks vs. Cons
“Hands down, I’d never miss the JW Chicken at Barbuto.” —Aarón Sánchez, Johnny Sánchez, Baltimore and New Orleans; co-host, Chopped
"Roasted marrow bone with oxtail marmalade and rock salt at Blue Ribbon. It’s old school but still one of my favorite dishes New York—a true classic and would make a marrow bone lover out of anybody!"—Anne Burrell, Phil & Anne’s Good Time Lounge, New York City; judge, Worst Cooks in America
“The watermelon pickle and crispy pork dish at Fatty Crab.”—Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner, Duck Duck Goat, Chicago