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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

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Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

Laoma Malatang’s dry pot at New World Mall
Serena Dai/Eater

Welcome to your weekend planner, where Eater editors recommend restaurants, cafes, and bars — whether they’re new and hot or the old standbys. As always, please let us know if you’d like to see something specific.

February 28

For a cozy first date in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens: When entering the bar Bluebird, it might just look like a dingy den in someone’s college house, but head straight through to where the actual bar is located to find cozy vibes supplied by a functional fireplace. The drinks are simple but good, and the comfort food is easy to like. It’s a great spot for a first date, never too crowded to make it hard to talk but also humming with enough energy so that its not awkward. 504 Flatbush Ave., near Lefferts Avenue, Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For a little bit of Long Island in the West Village: Right at the quaint corner of Christopher and Bedford, right across the street from the fabled Lucille Lortel Theater, lies a new bistro called North Fork. It channels the North Fork’s agrarian roots with white bus station tiles, barnwood accents, and even a chicken wire fence. Which means a locavoric and seasonal emphasis that seems quaint at this point. The relentlessly meaty menu, with a few vegetarian things here and there, has one entrée section devoted to braised short ribs, shrimp risotto, a hamburger, and the like, while a second section highlights game with roasted quail and rabbit stew. Deciding which section to patronize is North Fork’s central dilemma. 122 Christopher St., at Bedford Street, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a daytime eating excursion: All I’ve wanted to do all week is eat Chinese food, after writing and thinking for weeks about Eater NY’s Chinese package that dropped on Monday. After reading it, you might be craving it, too. Out of all the places recommended in the massive, gorgeous guide, I’d say a Flushing food court crawl is the most ideal for this weekend. Saturday is supposed to rain, so spend it inside gorging yourself on noodle soup, dry pot, and dumplings at New World Mall. Just follow our guide to the best food there, and you can leave like we did on a recent Saturday: sated and primed for a late-afternoon nap. 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., at Main Street, Flushing — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For faultless roast chicken when you don’t feel like making your own: Whole chickens spinning on the rotisserie at El Gran Canario in Williamsburg beg for your attention as you’re crossing the street, the smell of them luring the neighborhood to this petite Dominican restaurant. The birds here are slow-cooked to perfection, crispy and seasoned to comforting levels, and moist throughout; all that for just under $11 with tax. One of the friendly staffers behind the counter will gladly cut your chicken up for you to take home and enjoy with a bottle of wine and the sides of your choosing. If there are tostones that day, get those, too. Note: El Gran Canario is closed on Sundays. 174 Borinquen Pl., at Keap Street, Williamsburg — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For the best Malaysian in town: Taste Good, a small place of sturdy wooden chairs and fluorescent lighting, is perhaps the best Malaysian restaurant in town and has been for a long time, especially since the city’s supply of Malaysian cafes has dwindled over the years. Consisting of a flaky flatbread and a small bowl of chicken curry, the roti canai are a notch better than usual, and one is well advised to order anything with eggplant, tofu, or okra. The curry assam fish head casserole is highly advised, and the mutton rendang and sambal squid are equally tasty. 82-18 45th Ave., between 82nd and 83rd streets, Elmhurst — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

February 22

For subterranean ramen in Chelsea: As the ramen season is winding slowly down, it might be a good time to visit a few noodle newcomers before summer arrives and hot ramen becomes repulsive. Located in a dark, walk-down storefront on the north side of 14th Street, Kogane Ramen is a place that benefits from over a decade of ramen-thought on the part of restaurateurs — the first location is in Brooklyn Heights. First off, the noodles are made on-premises and are especially firm and good. Second, there are a variety of pleasing broths available, of which the curry and the spicy red tonkotsu were instant favorites. Third, the menu fills out with all sorts of accessory dishes like broiled eggplant, mackerel filet, and hog jowl bao, so that you could visit and not bother with the noodles at all. 337 West 14th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Chelsea — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

To transport yourself to the Mediterranean: Greek tavern Kiki’s is consistently packed but during an odd hour or a night with particularly miserable weather, it’s not so hard to snag a table in the rambling Chinatown space. And on a slushy New York evening, why not imagine yourself on the Mediterranean? Grilled branzino drizzled with olive oil, imam baildi with a generous sprinkling of salty kefalotyri cheese, and lemon potatoes drowning in their sauce will help get you there. The best thing about Kiki’s is its reliability; it’s seemingly always bustling, and the unchanging menu of Greek staples is likely just as good as you remember. 130 Division St., at Orchard Street, Chinatown — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

To feel like you’re at an Oscars party: Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm is cooking at Beyonce and Jay Z’s Oscars party, so to feel like you’re kind of in on that action, I recommend a drink and some snacks at the NoMad Bar, my favorite of his venues. Unless you make a reservation to sit upstairs, you’ll likely be standing at the long bar in the middle of the room, which really isn’t so bad. There’s waiter service, and if you’re aggressive enough, you’ll eventually get a seat at the bar. I have yet to find cocktails in this city that top the ones there. 10 West 28th St., between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, Nomad — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For non-tipsy Chinese food in the Village: Once it was located in Soho, but now Tipsy Shanghai — a restaurant that claims to have been founded in 1905 — nestles near the NYU campus. Served in a very cheery dining room, the Shanghai fare is top-notch in most cases, including glistening Wuxi pork ribs, soup dumplings pan fried for a change, and particularly good Beijing style noodles with ground pork in bean sauce. But skip the Chinese-American fare like sweet and sour shrimp. 228 Thompson St., between Bleecker and Third streets, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For comfortable, affordable Vietnamese staples in Chinatown: Manhattan’s Chinatown, though better known for its Chinese restaurants, is also home to a slew of low-key Vietnamese restaurants with solid picks. Thai Son is one of them, with an expansive dining room and a long menu composed of pho, rice dishes, and juices. Service is attentive, and they let diners hang for as long as they want. Spring rolls and summer rolls are both worth ordering, and the entrees are portioned to share. But best of all is a coconut drink, which is far more satisfying than the trendy packaged stuff in bodegas and grocery stores now. It’s earthy and not too sweet, and it comes with a spoon to pick out chunks of coconut at the bottom. 89 Baxter St., between Walker and White streets, Chinatown — Serena Dai, editor

February 15

For a sit-down meal before a Broadway show: Don Antonio is always my go-to. The midtown pizza spot from the people behind Keste downtown and Naples pizzaiolo Antonio Starita serves consistently tasty wood-fired Neapolitan pies. Here, the signature is the Montanara, a pie with a lightly fried crust and all the traditional Margherita toppings. But if fried dough sounds too indulgent pre-show, there’s also a worthy menu of more typical Neopolitan pizzas, plus salads and even gluten-free pizzas for those who need them. Best of all, you can be in and out in under an hour, if that’s the kind of schedule you’re working with. 309 West 50th St., near Eighth Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For intimate and innovative Italian in Fort Greene: Occupying the walk down space that held French bistro Café Lafayette for 10 years, Fradei is an innovative Italian trattoria with a menu that changes frequently. The food offers a few spins on old favorites. The tri-corner ravioli called cappellacci, for example, come stuffed with amatriciana sauce instead of the usual veal or cheese, while a lamb shank comes dabbed with mushroom cream and pressed between two pieces of focaccia. Medium rare sweetbreads with a crispy rice wafer on top competed with a charcuterie platter turned out on a hand slicer for the favorite dish of the evening. 99 South Portland Ave., between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For perfect fish sandwiches: Devin’s Fish & Chips was already a decade old when it caught fire in 2014, and freaked everyone out by not reopening for three years. When it finally did, it was better than ever, offering one of Sugar Hill’s best whiting sandwiches, with all sorts of other seafood options. Whole porgies are equally as good, and you may go with the excellent skin-on fries as a side, or choose one or more of the perfectly steamed vegetables. Also on the menu: shrimp, scallops, and flounder, fried or steamed. The refurbished premises offers plenty of seating. 747 St. Nicholas Ave., between 147th and 148th streets, Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a simple Tex-Mex snack in Chinatown/Lower East Side: I once stumbled into the narrow Taco Recipes storefront when I needed a snack before going to a bar in the area, and it’s a surprising and wonderful place. Asians run the restaurant, and though the menu is mostly made up of Tex-Mex options like chili, fajitas, and hard or soft shell tacos, buffalo wings and lo mein are on the menu, too. The chicken quesadilla in particular will hit the spot when plotting a night of booze. They’re the kind that college dorm cafeterias might dish out — two tortillas filled with melty jack cheese and cubes of grilled chicken — and they were entirely satisfying. 23 Essex St., between Hester and Canal streets, Chinatown — Serena Dai, editor

For an alternative diner experience in Prospect Heights: While Tom’s is the most obvious choice for breakfast on Washington Ave. in Prospect Heights, there’s a lesser known but still solid diner down the street called Shane’s Brooklyn that’s well worth it for shaking things up or if the line is simply too long at Tom’s. It skews more Southern in its diner offerings, with dishes like chicken and waffles and fish and grits. There are more simple eggs and omelette options, and a very filling hanger steak with eggs. And the sweet tea is approved by this Virginia transplant! 794 Washington Ave., between Sterling Place and St. Johns Place, Prospect Heights — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

February 8

For very good chicken fingers: I’m on a mission to publish a chicken finger map, and this week I encountered some that will definitely make the cut. If you too are a chicken finger fiend, head to Upper East Side pub Merrion Square for a standout version alongside a ton of beer. The ones here are ultra-thin and ultra-crispy — I’m talking nearly flat, making them a little bit more about the breading than the chicken, which I’m not mad about. My only qualm is the french fries — which while available in waffle, curly, and sweet potato — don’t come in skinny, my favorite. 1840 Second Ave., at 95th Street, Upper East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For a jaunt on the PATH to praiseworthy global fare: Marcus Samuelsson’s Marcus B & P has been open a little over a year northwest of downtown Newark, and has established quite a following. It’s not a bad walk (or a cheap cab ride) from the PATH station to the comfortable restaurant that seems decades older than its actual age. The giant fried chicken platter is a tour de force, and even the cornbread, with its giant schmear of butter on the side, is praiseworthy. But the chef doesn’t stick to soul food. The dorowat rigatoni adapts the Ethiopian national dish, while a jerk cauliflower, hemmed in with lentils, provides a new take on a Jamaican dish. 56 Halsey St., between New and Bleeker streets, Newark, NJ — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For spicy Sichuan fit for vegans: Getting Sichuan food as a non meat-eater can sometimes be frustrating, given that many of the cuisine’s staple dishes almost always include meat. But at new vegetarian Sichuan restaurant Spicy Moon, nothing is off limits. Aside from the “Beyond Beef” in the dan dan noodles and a few other items, the dishes focus on actual vegetables and tofu, rather than faux meat replacements. The three-cup mixed vegetables include flavorful cauliflower, broccoli, and peppers; Brussels sprouts feature numbing Sichuan peppercorns; and vegetable wontons come floating in an actually spicy chili oil. Everything is served on disposable tableware — it’s unclear whether this is a permanent arrangement, or just an opening stopgap — but red mood lighting and an ’80s soundtrack make it fun. 328 East 6th St., between First and Second avenues, East Village — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

To test a popular cooking method: Right on East 23rd near Baruch College, Sous Vide Kitchen is a fast-casual spot that deploys a cooking method that was all the rage a few years ago. It refers to itself, rather absurdly, as a “virtual food hall.” Nothing virtual about it: The usual bowls and sandwiches are offered, with the meats, fish, and poultry done to a turn. Particularly good is a Vietnamese banh mi made with red curry beef, but other heroes have barbecue and Latin themes. There’s plenty of seating, and a coffee bar is implanted right inside the front door. Watch for daily specials. 119 East 23rd St., between Park and Lexington avenues, Flatiron — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For on-point fried chicken and Southern sides in Brooklyn: I was pleased to hear that one of my favorite New York fried chicken restaurants Peaches HotHouse duplicated itself closer to me, and thankfully for the numerous fans of the Bed-Stuy original, the Fort Greene outpost near Barclays Center is bigger and thus a little more manageable regarding wait times. The chicken — a take on Nashville-style hot chicken — is just as good here, with a non-greasy fry and juicy chicken. Garlic broccoli rabe, mac and cheese, and cornbread are also all wonderful and twist-free versions of themselves. Service, too, is warm; it’s a comfort food restaurant through-and-through. 87 South Elliott Pl., between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Fort Greene — Serena Dai, editor

February 1

For revelatory cupcakes, cookies, and scones: When Sunday rolls around, are you more interested in pastries than pitchers of mimosas? Off the beaten track, even for Bushwick, Buttah Bakery lies across the street from St. Aloysius Church, and an almost religious atmosphere prevails where cakes, cookies, and muffins are concerned, from owners and sisters Kristin and Stacy Viola. Just check out the blackout cupcake, featuring a day’s worth of chocolatey goodness, or if you’re in a savory mood, the mushroom, gruyere, and thyme scone (baked good selection varies). Coffee is available along with a few seats, allowing you to sit in the sunny, south facing windows. 377 Onderdonk Ave., at Stockholm Street, Ridgewood — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an incredibly inexpensive and filling lunch: Somehow Lower East Side Mexican restaurant Factory Tamal has managed to keep its tamales under $3 — despite how long it takes to make the handmade snack. They’re served hot, wrapped in a corn husk that traps the warmth in, making it an ideal winter meal. The chipotle chicken one comes with a mild spice kick, but the one stuffed with strips of chicken doused in salsa verde was my favorite. And at $2.50 a piece, nothing beats it as a quick, filling lunch. 34 Ludlow St., between Hester and Grand Streets, Lower East Side — Carla Vianna, reporter

For a laid-back cafe with excellent matcha: Kos Kaffe in Park Slope stays busy but is never too crowded to find a spot to cozy up with a book or notebook (note that not all tables allow laptops; a spot at the window bar is ideal for computer work). The matcha and espresso drinks are superb, and the food is good, too. Get the sausage and egg biscuit, served with boiled egg on a crunchy-on-the-outside/soft-on-the-inside cheddar-chive biscuit, alongside a light salad for a hearty but refreshing breakfast. 251 Fifth Ave., at Garfield Place, Park Slope — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For a sweet treat around Midtown: K-Town dessert and coffee shop Grace Street gets busy on the weekends, though not so much that it’s impossible to snag a seat when seeking a break in Midtown. A kaleidoscope of colorful desserts can be spotted on everyone’s tables, but the neutral colored ho-dduck — bouncy dough filled with melted brown sugar and cinnamon — is a stand-out. It comes with vanilla ice cream, and all together, the dessert is an ideal mixture of chewy, creamy, and sticky, without being overly sweet. 17 West 32nd St., between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, K-Town — Serena Dai, editor

For unusual taps south of a mighty park: If your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon is holed up in a dark paneled pub with amazing tap beers and exceptional but totally predictable bar food in large servings, Bronx Alehouse may be your place. Steps south of Van Cortlandt Park, the food menu runs to things like deep fried mac and cheese, Thai chile wings, smoked ribs, and burgers with names like drunken onion gorgonzola. There’s even a kale salad. The heart of this place is its beer list, including, at press time, local brews like Carton’s Carton of Milk from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey; and Industrial Arts’ Wrench from Rockland, New York. 216 West 238th St., at John M. Collins Place, Van Cortlandt Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

January 25

For North African Couscous in the West Village: A few months ago when Einat Admony’s Kish-Kash debuted on Hudson Street, it was thronged with customers making it hard to find a seat. Now that the crowds have subsided, you can go at 6:30 or 7 p.m. most evenings and get a table or seat at the communal table. The North African fare is even better than at opening, and the most desirable dishes include the chicken tajine couscous, and mafruma, a couscous that features a potato stuffed with flavored ground beef. Ask for the harissa, which is made on the premises. 455 Hudson St., between Barrow and Morton streets, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an indulgent, upscale meal in FiDi: Keith McNally’s Financial District restaurant Augustine recently brought on acclaimed chef Markus Glocker, and he’s already started putting Viennese touches to the menu. The room is still as warm and lovely as ever, but options like a Viennese wedding soup have been added. It’s on the pricier side — entrees range from $24 to $49 at dinner, $15 to $49 at brunch — so go when you’re feeling a little more luxe. 5 Beekman St., between Nassau Street and Theatre Alley, Financial District — Serena Dai, editor

For satisfying Asian food court fare and a grocery trip: Wandering around 99 Ranch Market in downtown Jersey City is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. The massive supermarket is full of harder-to-find Asian groceries from lotus root to trout roe to pork buns. There’s an entire aisle for tea, tons of frozen dumplings and soups, and most of the items I’m sort of unable to identify because they’re not in English. The entire experience ends in a food court, with various stalls for dim sum, ramen, boba tea, a bakery, and buffet stir-fry dishes, all for very reasonable prices. 420 Grand St., between Monmouth and Brunswick streets, Jersey City, New Jersey — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

To chew some cheese bread of the Caucasus: It might be time to revisit Georgian food, a wonderful cuisine that’s become known more recently in New York for the khachapuri. Georgian Dream in Bay Ridge is one of the best places to do it, in a charming room that looks like a village in the Caucasus Mountains. Thrill to the three brightly colored salads in phkali, the corn grits with butter (that remind you of our own Georgia), and, yes, the khachapuri, a cheese boat of bread with a yolk-busting egg in the middle. Could anything be richer? 8309 Third Ave., between 83rd and 84th streets, Bay Ridge — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For beer and an outstanding meat plate: Threes Brewing in Gowanus is a supremely chill place to day drink, and it’s a huge bonus to have Meat Hook food to eat alongside the beer. On a recent day, I particularly loved the charcuterie plate, loaded up with mortadella and an almost unbelievably smooth pate. Highly recommend grabbing some friends this weekend and doing the same. 333 Douglass St., between Third and Fourth avenues, Gowanus — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

January 18

For southern Indian vegetarian: This rainy weekend will be a great one to hop on the PATH train and go to Jersey City’s India Square. In the middle of the grocery stores, butchers, sari shops, paan sellers, and jewelers, find about three dozen eating establishments, about half of them vegetarian. One such is Sapthagiri, named after a hill with seven peaks in India’s Andhra Pradesh state. Dosas and their ilk are available, but so are many regional rice dishes such as curd rice and bisi bele bath, eggplant in peanut sauce, and pesarattu upma, something like a dosa with a mung bean wrapper and filling of spiced cream of wheat. 804 Newark Ave., at Liberty Avenue, Jersey City — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For brunch with a fluffy blueberry pancake: Petite but mighty Carroll Gardens restaurant Madcap Cafe — from chef Heather Fuller, who used to work at Per Se and Momofuku Ko — is a charming place for neighborhood brunch, particularly if you’re craving a pancake. The blueberry skillet one comes shaped like a dome. Blueberries top the pancake and lie underneath, and it’s an ideal for-the-table order. 387 Court St., near 1st Place, Carroll Gardens — Serena Dai, editor

For hummus that rises above the rest: I’ve truly missed Dizengoff’s hummus, and none has come nearly close in the time since its closing. But the best version I’ve encountered since is at Vish Hummus & Happiness, a vegetarian hummus shop in Greenwich Village. I didn’t love the other dishes such as Israeli salad, but the hummus itself was light and creamy, and the mushrooms I added on top added depth and umami. I’d take it to go and dip with a bread you love, because the pita is only OK. There are also locations in Williamsburg and near Columbia. 59 East Eighth St., between Broadway and University Place, Greenwich Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For excellent inexpensive burgers in Woodside: A burger joint joined to a butcher shop is not a bad idea, and that’s the case with F. Ottomanelli Burgers, no connection to the famous (or infamous) West Village butchers of similar name. This one is on a side street near the Long Island Railroad station, cooking up its hamburgers pink and juicy and serving them with twice-cooked Belgian fries. Though it was founded in 2011, the decor is calculated to make you think the place is much older. Beer is available. 60-15 Woodside Ave., between 60th and 61st streets, Woodside — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For pizza with a group: Danny Meyer’s thin-crust pizzeria in Nomad Marta is the ideal place to gather with a group. Get some bottles of wine, a few appetizers, and more pizzas than you think you need — like, almost one per person. For my group of eight, five appetizers and five pizzas was the right amount. It seems like a lot, but the pizzas are very light, and gratuity is included, so the total was still just $63 per person all in, and that’s counting three bottles of wine. 29 East 29th St., between Madison and Park avenues, Nomad — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

January 11

For flame-grilled Chelsea chicken: What the industry calls “quick-service restaurants” (QSRs) are blanketing Chelsea, replacing older, more traditional Chinese, Italian, and Latin sit-down, waiter-service establishments. One of the latest, and one with considerable merit, is Brine Chicken. A neon sign at the end of the room announces fire-grilled chicken, and a quarter bird consisting of a skin-on leg and thigh comes with a choice of two sides, which are bigger than you’d expect and frequently Greek. The chicken is quite good, and my beet salad with a cloud of tzatziki was even better. 106 Eighth Ave., between 15th and 16th streets, Chelsea — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For eclectic dumplings in the East Village: Is there anything that can’t be a filling for Chinese-style dumplings? People have seen some out-of-the-box dumpling fillings before, and the Dumpling Shop, a fast-casual restaurant in the East Village, continues to push the boundaries of tradition. The restaurant serves four specialty dumplings — Thai green curry shrimp, Jamaican jerk chicken, buffalo chicken, and Korean kimchi — and two traditional dumplings, one made with pork and cabbage and the other made with vegetables. Get the aromatic Thai green curry shrimp ones or the kimchi ones. The sesame noodles and dan dan noodles are also worth trying. 124 Second Ave., between East 7th and 8th streets, East Village — James Park, editorial assistant

For Middle Eastern brunch: Clinton Hill Middle Eastern restaurant Miss Ada only serves brunch on Sundays, but it’s well worth paying a visit during this weekly window. Unsurprisingly, the menu at the restaurant (named for the Hebrew word for “restaurant”) includes spreads, shakshuka, Israeli breakfast, and hummus bowls. But unlike other brunch spots serving similar fare, Miss Ada also offers a short list of satisfying Yemeni pastries, like malawach, a thick flatbread served with with egg, tomato, and shug. Note that while the drinks list is extensive, it’s heavy on cocktails and light on caffeine, so you’re better off getting that cappuccino before or after you go. 184 Dekalb Ave., between Cumberland Street and Carlton Avenue, Clinton Hill — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

To drink while laying on a waterbed: New Alphabet City bar Joyface is a bit trippy, but in a good way. The ’70s-styled space has various couches and cushioned seats around to chill out in, and one especially fun area: a waterbed. Playboy magazines, Archie comics, and other era artifacts are strewn about. It would all feel a bit much, if not for the fact that the drinks are pretty good and the crowd isn’t intense. There’s no food, so eat before or after — if it were me, it’d be at Superiority Burger or Somtum Der nearby. 104 Avenue C, at Seventh Street, Alphabet City — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For newfangled pizza in East Harlem: The faddish multi-grain Roman pizza called pinsa has gone uptown at Pinzza. This tiny and agreeable pizzeria, decorated with big swirls of red paint and possessing only a few seats, turns out a small range of Roman pies. The crust is crisp and airy and square, the sauce chunky, and the cheese is regular pizza cheese, making this pinsa a fascinating hybrid style. Only three varieties are available by pie and rectangular slice, or you can invent your own constellation of toppings. Really, give this pizza a try. 2310 First Ave., between 111th and 112th streets, East Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

January 4

For steak of the Pampas: La Fusta, a 45-year-old Argentine steakhouse flaunts its horse racing theme, with framed photos of jockeys mounted on winners and paintings of long forgotten horses and equestrians. The roster of steaks include favorites like skirt, sirloin, and shell, along with grilled short ribs, and such offal as kidneys, chitterlings, blood sausage, liver, and tongue, the latter in a vinegary salad that’s the perfect way to start your meal. 80-32 Baxter Ave., between Ketcham and Layton streets, Elmhurst — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For cozy cafe hangs on a rainy day: I found myself at Fairfax in the West Village on a rainy Saturday morning, which turned into a rainy Saturday afternoon. The space isn’t large, but it’s comfortable, with couches and private tables thrown about. It’s so comfortable that my group and I ended up staying for hours, ordering a few different dishes off the breakfast menu. The avocado toast with gravlax was fresh and savory, and the bacon was bursting with flavor. My favorite was the soft poached eggs and soldiers, a piece of toast coated in melted parmesan cheese and cut into slices, meant for dipping in the warm, soft eggs delivered in a tiny bowl on the side. 234 West 4th St., at West 10th Street, West Village — Carla Vianna, reporter

For a roast chicken hideaway near Penn Station: My current roast chicken go-to is Riko Peruvian Cuisine in Chelsea, always reliable and speedy off a Seamless order. The quarter- and half-chicken combos are an especially good deal — and allow for choosing white or dark meat only; shoutout to my fellow dark lovers — coming either with rice and beans or french fries and salad for just $10.50 or $12.50, respectively. The tangy and garlicky green sauce that comes on the side is truly addictive. One day I’ll make it to the actual restaurant, which looks like a pleasant, unassuming space to hide out from the chain mania surrounding Penn Station. 409 Eighth Ave., between 30th and 31st streets, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For comforting but still surprising bistro fare: Farm-driven restaurant Roman’s may just be Brooklyn’s quintessential bistro. The food might be described as Italian meets new American, on a menu that’s constantly shifting. A salad of bibb lettuce with walnuts and a creamy buttermilk dressing might precede a puree of fava beans bathed in olive oil. Next up, try a paccheri tubular pasta with squid ink, to be followed by a plate of porchetta or a smoked trout. The menu at this small and handsome spot never ceases to surprise and comfort. 243 Dekalb Ave., between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues, Fort Greene — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a standout French pastry in Bushwick: Tiny French bakery L’impremerie is a lovely Myrtle Avenue surprise, and well worth visiting in the morning for on-point pastries. Gus Reckel, whose bearded face is in the restaurant’s logo, makes everything in small batches daily, and whatever croissants he’s made for the day are an excellent choice. (If there’s an almond one, get it.) Other pastries are solid, too, and it’s not a bad idea to grab bread to take home for dinner. 1524 Myrtle Ave., between Linden Street and Gates Avenue, Bushwick — Serena Dai, editor

December 28

For a romantic French bistro in the Village: Lafayette and Frenchette have been harbingers of a French restaurant revival in downtown Manhattan. One of the latest examples is Petite Boucherie, offspring of a much larger Sheridan Square brasserie called Boucherie, where the gimmick is a butcher shop on the premises. Petite Boucherie’s menu reads like that of the former Pastis, with lots of meat and seafood, along with the usual charcuterie, salads, and pastas, and a drinks menu that favors absinthe. But the most memorable thing a friend and I ate was not meat, but a bowl of seared scallops, in a darkened room lined with leather banquettes that was a good place for a romantic date. If only they’d cut the throbbing dance music. 14 Christopher St., at Gay Street, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a last-minute New Year’s Eve dining plan: If you’re still looking for a chill New Year’s Eve plan, head to Joseph Leonard. You can walk in and eat off the regular a la carte menu, which includes dishes such as a radicchio salad with anchovy, breadcrumbs, and egg or roast chicken with fingerling potatoes, lacinto kale, and chicken jus. If there’s a major wait, try any of Gabriel Stulman’s other restaurants nearby, like Fedora, Fairfax, or Jeffrey’s Grocery, with similar vibes and a la carte menus. 170 Waverly Pl., at Grove Street, Greenwich Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For dim sum with a difference in Chinatown: New Shanghai Deluxe asserts a commanding presence on a quintessential Chinatown corner, specializing in Shanghai cuisine, which means braised pork shoulders, Chrysanthemum fish, and West Lake beef soup. But the restaurant is also a good place to go for weekend dim sum in that city’s unique style, including lots of dumplings sturdier than the Cantonese ones, cold buffet dishes like mock duck, raw crab with soy sauce, and aromatic beef — plus the expected Shanghai soup dumplings, with or without crab. 50 Mott St., at Bayard Street, Chinatown — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For rich new ramen in Park Slope: The neighborhood now has a formidable noodle soup contender in Ramen Danbo, a chain that has lush tonkotsu broth at customizable levels of richness. It’s a small and simple space, with most of the seats around a bar and chill vibes during the day — though the servers greet people in Japanese as they enter. The menu’s not long; duck in alone or with one or two other people. Just the ramen is enough. 52 Seventh Ave. between St. Johns and Lincoln Place, Park Slope — Serena Dai, editor

For massive cookies in a variety of flavors: In an obscured basement location on 18th Street sits City Cakes, a bakery that churns our custom cake orders. But walk on in and score some huge half-pound cookies, of which my favorite is the so-called sugardoodle (it’s a snickerdoodle). The hefty treats are almost cake-like in texture and often warm, with other options including good old chocolate chip and one stuffed with Nutella and macadamia nuts. 251 West 18th St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

December 21

For a satisfying vegetarian Indian meal in Kips Bay: Hailing from Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, Vatan is done up to look like a village, with buildings, a balcony, and a banyan tree spreading over all. The only thing available is a multi-course vegetarian feast that includes flatbreads, fritters, rice dishes, and vegetable curries with all the fixings. It makes an immensely satisfying (and filling) meal, and you may ask for more of anything you particularly like. 409 Third Ave., between 28th and 29th Streets, Kips Bay — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Korean and Korean-ish food for a date night in Brooklyn: Newly opened Korean restaurant Haenyeo is already attracting attention from locals, but not so much that it’s super difficult to grab a seat. It comes from the former chef at longtime West Village restaurant Do Hwa, serving more familiar Korean dishes like a seafood tofu stew alongside inventions, like a spicy rice cake appetizer that’s topped with chewy white Oaxacan cheese. Nearly every table will have an order of the grilled oysters with seaweed butter, and you should get one, too. Since it’s Park Slope, expect lots of families in the room, but somehow it manages to have a vibe that works for date night as well. 239 Fifth Ave. at Carroll St., Park Slope — Serena Dai, editor

For quality no-frills sushi and quick service on the UES: Sushi Seki on the UES offers a $100 omakase menu, but if you’re not in the mood to dish out 100 bucks for a single meal, and, like me, you’re just craving good sushi, order off the a la carte menu instead. There is a good selection of rolls that range from $7 to $15, like my personal favorite spicy tuna, plus plenty of vegetarian ones too. They come with the main ingredient only, and extras like cucumber or avocado can be added for $1 each. But the spicy tuna roll is just as good without the extras, each piece decently sized to fit in your mouth in one bite (I hate messy oversized rolls). Everything comes out really fast, so it’s a good place to go when you’re really hungry. 1143 First Ave., between East 62nd and 63rd Streets, UES — Carla Vianna, reporter

For homey Japanese food in Noho: On Bleecker Street in Noho, Bessou serves homey Japanese cooking in a comfortably low-lit space. The food is reliably soothing, and this week I discovered the restaurant is also great for groups when it was able to accommodate a large reservation just the day before dining. Aside from that clutch flexibility, Bessou has a menu that works for sharing, split into bites, small plates, and large dishes. Among them, there’s something to suit just about everyone, from chicken karaage to vegetable tempura udon to pork chashu. There’s also plenty of sake to drink, and for dessert, delightfully melty mochi. 5 Bleecker St., between Lafayette Street and the Bowery, Noho — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For retro French fare in the West Village: Corny name aside (Peter Rabbit may be regarded as a purely English invention), Bistro Pierre Lapin is a newish West Village restaurant that seems transplanted from the Upper East Side in the 1960s, via Harold Moore, the chef responsible for what used to be Harold’s Meat and Three, now just Harold’s. This restaurant has a menu twice as long as that of the usual West Village French bistro, with a few playful modern twists. A pork chop done shake and bake style has a prodigious amount of juicy flesh, while the matzo ball soup that’s a salute to the Lower East Side is improved with flecks of black truffle in a broth damn near perfect. Glasses of wine are expensive, but the pour is good. 99 Bank St., at Greenwich Street, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

December 14

For focaccia and gelato in the East Village on Friday: Superiority Burger is known for its tight menu of vegetarian dishes, but a strong move is to go when the tiny East Village restaurant serves a focaccia special. Tonight, chef Brooks Headley is doing just that — putting out 22 trays of bouncy, just-sweet-enough bread topped with whatever he wants. There will probably be a line, and you’ll probably have to take it out to eat on the street. But it’s phenomenal, and well worth trying at least once, though you’ll likely want to go again. 430 East Ninth St., between First and Avenue A — Serena Dai, editor

For laidback Peruvian in Long Island City: The serpentine layout of Jora offers a lounge-y vibe, with pre-Columbian pottery in niches and subtle, flattering lighting. This Peruvian restaurant also offers opulent takes on Peru’s most well-known dishes, including the national dish of aji de gallina (hen in a turmeric-laced sauce dotted with olives), and tiradito (a wonderful grouper ceviche in a sauce dubbed leche de tigre). And while there are lamb shanks and big seafood dishes, the long appetizer list offers some of Jora’s most satisfying fare. Don’t miss the pisco sour, Peru’s most famous cocktail. 47-46 11th St., at 48th Avenue, Long Island City — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a good old-fashioned Jewish deli experience: There are a few excellent newfangled Jewish delis sprinkled around NYC, but sometimes a classic experience is what you want. For that, head to Riverdale and slide into a booth at Liebman’s, open since 1953. There find perfect matzah ball soup, pastrami and tongue sandwiches, fat creamy fries, super salty and sour pickles, and all the rest of the traditional Ashkenazi spread. I’m a total fangirl, going every time I visit my godmother, who lives there — see proof right here as I’m caught in a 2014 Times slideshow that accompanies a profile of the place. 552 West 235th St., between Oxford and Johnson Avenues, Riverdale — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For quality farm-to-market fare: On a roll after his celebrity chef status was cemented at Gramercy Tavern, Tom Colicchio established Craft, his own hit restaurant not too far away. While the place is not as jammed up with customers as it once was, its farm-to-market take on food is still great, and the steampunk premises now reads as serene rather than odd. Some friends and I enjoyed a pork terrine, seasonal endive salad, medley of sautéed mushrooms, composed veal entrée, and orecchiette with a pork ragu. Yes, it’s expensive, but the servings are humongous, such that you could easily share a single three-course meal between two. 43 East 19th St., between Broadway and Park Avenue South — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a taste of Brazilian pastries: There’s a rotating selection of Brazilian pastries at Padoca Bakery on the Upper East Side, like mini chicken pies made with marinated pulled chicken known as empadinha de frango. But the one permanent fixture on the menu is the oversized pão de queijo, or cheese bread, which you have by itself, or stuffed with ham and cheese like a sandwich. It’s a savory tennis ball-shaped pastry that’s crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, and it pairs wonderfully with Padoca’s cappuccino. 359 East 68th St., between First and Second Avenues — Carla Vianna, reporter

December 7

For faithful Tuscan fare: “Tuscan” appears on Italian menus all over town, but rarely does the food live up to the tag. Founded in 1999 by Florentine ex-pats who once worked at the famed Florentine restaurant Cibreo, Pepolino continues providing an accurate reflection of Tuscan cooking. And the food is a revelation: Pappa al pomodoro is a jiggly soup of breadcrumbs and tomato (it helped give rise to the English word “pap”), while sformato is a spinach souffle that can be spread on bread. Then there’s fettuccine with braised rabbit and inzimino, a braised squid stew. Sit in the downstairs dining room; it perfectly resembles an Italian osteria. 281 West Broadway, between Sixth Avenue and Canal Street, Tribeca — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a full-service bagel and latke Hanukkah brunch: There aren’t many places to sit down and be served bagels at a place that specializes in them, but two happen to exist in Soho. One is fairly pricey, but Baz Bagel is a comfortable and casual luncheonette-like option. Though you can certainly walk in, last-minute reservations are relatively easy to score, which I highly recommend. There are tons of open-faced bagel sandwich options with endearing names — like the pretty in pink with nova, beet and horseradish cream cheese, and dill on a pumpernickel bagel — as well as latkes, matzah brei, pancakes, and salads. 181 Grand St., between Baxter and Mulberry streets, Soho — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For dependable tapas in a comfortable space: When it was founded 12 years ago, Boqueria was a large part of the tapas bar revival taking place in New York City. The single tapas bar turned into a chain with multiple branches here and in Washington, D.C. The restaurant remains a dependable and sometimes spectacular source of Spanish food in small doses, where you can get a plate of Serrano ham, pan con tomate, or gambas al ajillo washed down with a glass of wine, sherry, or vermouth. The Soho branch, with tables deep inside the premises and an open kitchen, is particularly chill. 171 Spring St., between Thompson Street and West Broadway — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an actually good breakfast meet up in FiDi: It’s not that there aren’t plenty of food options in the Financial District, it’s just that most of them are thoroughly mediocre or don’t really have a place to sit. So when some coworkers turned me onto Hole in the Wall, a stylish Australian cafe tucked into a FiDi side street, I knew it was going to become my new go-to for breakfast meetings. There’s great coffee, a menu that runs from avocado toast and acai bowls to mushroom bruschetta and a pulled pork benedict, and a good amount of seating. It’s often busy on weekday mornings, but it’s quiet enough to have a real conversation. 15 Cliff St., between John and Fulton streets, Financial District — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For interesting wines and seafood in LES: I’m all on board the wine bar-plus-food train, and Cervo’s on LES — with its warm tones and intimate seating — fits the bill perfectly. Simple but tasty dishes like prawns splayed out for easy eating or toast with spinach and cheese are worth ordering, as are the clams, whose sauce is worth soaking up with bread. It’s the same team as Hart’s in Bed-Stuy, and the famed lamb burger is available here, too. For drinks, obviously get wine. 43 Canal St., between Orchard and Ludlow streets — Serena Dai, editor