Josh Ozersky, meat aficionado, Brooklyn hater, and newly-appointed restaurant editor for Esquire lets loose a few details on the magazine's 2014 list of best new restaurants, which will be revealed in full at an awards ceremony tonight. For the past 30 years, this list has been in the hands of Ozersky's predecessor, John Mariani, and it sounds like Ozersky is out to stir things up.
At the top of the list is The Cecil, the Harlem restaurant helmed by chef Alexander Smalls and Eater Young Gun J.J. Johnson. The Cecil has certainly enjoyed some critical love in the past year, but the move is still a surprising one. Ozersky tells Food Republic that it's partly his way of moving the list away from the "more formal" restaurants Mariani gravitated towards. He also picks the Cecil for its success at attracting all the residents of a neighborhood he describes as "one of the most polarized places on earth."
But here's the real shocker (at least coming from Ozersky): Take Root, the tiny tasting menu-only Brooklyn restaurant, also makes the list. This is a vegetarian-leaning restaurant that Ozersky himself describes as "the consummate Brooklyn restaurant," and as a specialist in "tweezers food," all things Ozersky has been known to vehemently oppose. And yet, he says, it almost made the number one slot. But why didn't it? Because "it was too Brooklyn, too twee, too New York." There's the old Ozersky we know.