Rockmeisha: If you’re a food writer, you may sometimes forget entirely about your favorite places for months at a time, as the kaleidoscope of new openings and random discoveries hogs your attention. Thus it was with my favorite izakaya in town, Rockmeisha. Located on a side street off of Sheridan Square, and unprepossessing of interior, apart from a few frowzy wooden booths and a monitor tuned to 60s Japanese vs. American wrestling matches, the place is a downtrodden wreck. Which is really just a pose. The food, beer, and sake are fantastic — and cheap, especially for the neighborhood.
The menu is long and jokey, with things like cheesesteaks and pig toes, but it also offers such bedrock drinking snacks as maki rolls, American potato salad, tempura-fried chicken, and one of the city’s best and richest (and most compact) bowls of ramen — so there’s no foolish scratching your head and figuring out which bowl of ramen to get. Japanese draft beers come in two sizes, bigger and biggest ($7 and $9), with the second at least twice the size of the first, deposited in a stein so large you need two hands to hoist it. Well, a few days ago I reacquainted myself with Rockmeisha, and now I’m trying to figure out how I can find the time to drop by every week. — Robert Sietsema
La Pecora Bianca: Walk into La Pecora Bianca at any given time and you'll immediately notice half of the diners in the white washed restaurant to be unhurriedly sipping some type of Spritz — be it the more traditional Aperol sort or one flavored with the Italian liqueur, Dimmi. With a seasonally-rich, vegetable-heavy menu, La Pecora Bianca tastes like Los Angeles by way of Italy, and the place itself channels a welcome sunny, fresh, laid-back feel thanks to high ceilings and tall windows. A selection of great lighter eats and drinks makes it the perfect place for summer — all I ask for is outdoor seating. — Kat Odell
Nix — It feels weird to walk to Nix. You have to get through the hoopla of Union Square, and you walk by what's basically peak NYU — not exactly the atmosphere you want before throwing down $60 a person for vegetarian food. But the restaurant manages to feel like an oasis from it all. It's beautiful! It's really lovely and warm and pleasant and adult. The food itself felt adult, too. The "lighter" dishes, like the jicama, were delicate and bright. The "bolder" dishes, even a piece of fried bread, were balanced and clean. It's unquestionably a bit of a sticker shock to pay so much for a meal without meat, but the sophistication of chef John Fraser's food makes a pretty good argument on why you should. — Serena Dai
Cafe Altro Paradiso: I ate here the same day Pete Wells published his review, which is to stay I had a couple things on my radar. Don't sleep on the mussels. Do ask for a second piece of grilled bread so you can soak up the perfect broth. The carpaccio is packed with so many texture and flavor combinations I never even thought about but luckily Altro did. I'm also glad my eats-everything friend pointed out the beef tongue crostini with capers. That's the dish I'll be going back for again and again with a glass of wine at the bar. — Patty Diez
Reservoir Dogs: Some stories never end, and even though the piece about Chicago hot dogs has been published, I’m still looking everywhere for a good red hot. Thus it was after I visited a sushi bar on Crown Heights’ Franklin Avenue, I decided to drop by the new frankfurter stand Reservoir Dogs, a few blocks north. (By the way, if you haven’t visited Franklin lately, you’re in for a formidable surprise. It’s become one of the city’s most thronged restaurant strips.)
The place is the size of a closet, and the clerk is also the cook. This is yet another of those upscale hot doggeries that seem to be going out of business lately (Bark is only the most recent example.) Priced from $3.75 to $7, the franks are high quality and available in nearly a dozen varieties, including kielbasy, andouille, cheddar brat, and a breakfast link. Naturally, I went for the "Mr. Chi-Town," the place’s take on the Chicago dog. The bun was split-top, like you might find on a lobster roll, and the pepper was a banana pepper, but the other components were all in place, and the thing was delicious. Is $5.75 too much to pay for such a beauty? You decide. — Robert Sietsema
Superiority Burger: My guilty secret for months and months was that I'd never been to Superiority Burger. I do not live or work anywhere near the restaurant, and it operated on a schedule — four hours of service six nights a week — that completely clashed with my dining habits, especially during the wintertime. The restaurant expanded its hours to include lunch service a few weeks after my son was born. This was a period when I wasn't going to many restaurants unless they had room for a stroller and were located within two miles of my apartment. But miraculously, I finished up a work-related project in the East Village at 4 p.m. on a recent Friday, and the opportunity to go to Superiority Burger finally presented itself.
The place was almost empty, but Brooks was expediting and the kitchen was super busy. I was totally amazed by how many people were working the line in what looked like a very organized and efficient little space. It reminded me of some two and three-star kitchens I've seen around the city.
I got the food to-go, but it all fared very well after an hour in the bag. The Superiority Burger was tiny, but perfect, and I loved the greaseless patatas bravas-like potatoes. My ultimate favorite item was the Superiority Wrap. The rice, tofu, and vegetables had some spring to them, and although the wrap was the size of a Nalgene bottle, it didn't weigh me down. It's a terrific weirdo burrito, and I look forward to sneaking one of them into the movies someday soon. — Greg Morabito