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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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Mining the latest dining gems NYC has to offer

The old-school, deli-like exterior of Win Son, with a pedestrian crossing in front of the restaurant
Win Son
Photo by Gary He

The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying, yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.


May 29

Molleja, chorizo, y morcilla at La Esquina Criolla
Molleja, chorizo, y morcilla at La Esquina Criolla
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Molleja, chorizo, y morcilla at La Esquina Criolla

Corona’s long running La Esquina Criolla is the city’s foremost budget parrilla, a bare bones barbecue joint that specializes in the grilled meats of Argentina and Uruguay. Those meats are grilled over charcoal right in the front window, drawing you inside like a magnet. Therein you’ll find glass cases with neatly arranged empanadas, pickled appetizing dishes including veal tongue, and a glass meat case with a dozen cuts of steak. The mixed grill that includes a chorizo, an especially plump blood sausage, and more sweetbreads than one person could eat clocks in at $18.90 with a giant side dish (pick the roast potatoes), and constitutes a great deal. 94-67 Corona Ave., at Junction Boulevard, Corona — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Mortadella amuse bouche at Frenchette
Mortadella amuse bouche at Frenchette
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Mortadella amuse bouche at Frenchette

I hated bologna as a kid. Those thick slices of Oscar Meyer were no competition to my favorite deli meat, cured Polish ham. But as an adult I’ve grown to appreciate mortadella, the (often) pistachio-speckled bologna from Bologna. At Frenchette, they serve it as a small appetizer ($7), and it’s a study in lightness: From brioche bun to pink petal thin slices of mortadella to snow-like shavings of pecorino to specks of black pepper, the whole thing probably weighs less than two dimes. All of that lightness belies a burst of salty, fatty flavor, pungent with cheese and pepper, with an aftertaste that’s pure pork. It’s probably the best bologna sandwich this side of the Atlantic. 241 West Broadway, between Walker and White streets, Tribeca — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Ice cream at Van Leeuwen
Ice cream at Van Leeuwen
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Ice cream at Van Leeuwen

Here’s my brief primer on frozen desserts in the city: I take my soft serve at Milk Bar, my gelati at Grom or Superiority Burger, and my ice cream at Van Leeuwen. This week, I found myself close to Van Leeuwen, so that’s where I ended up. I did three scoops for about 10 bucks: vegan horchata, regular mint chip, and Earl Grey. The horchata had a bit of a coarse mouthfeel; the mint chip had a brilliant herbal sting; but it was the Earl Grey that really knocked it out of the park. That scoop flaunted a distinctly citrus tang from the bergamot, followed by a solid dose of black tea oomph. My only complaint is that the East Village location is now cashless, which is a bummer for, say, a high school student who rolls up with a few bills for a cold summer ice cream. 48 East Seventh St. near Second Avenue, East Village — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Fried eggplant at Win Son

Our entire meal at Win Son — marinated cucumbers, stinky tofu, big chicken bun, lu rou fan, and a popcorn chicken special — was exceptional, but my favorite dish was the fried eggplant. The $9 dish combines the fried nightshade with kefir cheese, black vinegar, spiced cashews, and herbs, and the result is savory and creamy and somehow vegan. My friends and I fought over the last few bites. 159 Graham Ave. at Montrose Avenue, Williamsburg — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Small pepperoni pizza at Archie’s

The proliferation of fancy pizza in New York is incredible, but I gotta say, as delicious as it often is, my favorite way to eat pizza is still out of a box, late at night with a bunch of friends and with a six-pack of beer from the bodega. On a visit to Bushwick over the weekend, though pizza favorite Ops was delightful and affordable, the thing I will crave again is the pizza I had later that night from Archie’s. A small, thick pie with crisp edges and tiny curly pepperonis ($13.50) hit the spot in my soul saved for pizza, the one I developed as a kid. 128 Central Ave., between Troutman Street and Willoughby Avenue, Bushwick — Serena Dai, editor

May 21

Bulleit Train cocktail at Straylight
Bulleit Train cocktail at Straylight
Photo by Stefanie Tuder

Bulleit Train cocktail at Straylight

Ever since writing about the wacky room and considered cocktails from Dorothy Elizabeth at Straylight, below Juku in Chinatown, I’ve been striving to go. I finally did last week, and very happily drank the Bulleit Train cocktail ($18), a mixture of Bulleit bourbon, sesame oil, matcha bitters, cacao nib, ginger honey, and oloroso sherry. It’s a bit of a mind-bender; the sesame oil makes the drink smell savory, but a sip of it is warming and sweet, with a depth from the brown liquor and fermented wine. The bitter matcha and cacao nibs stop it from becoming cloying. 32 Mulberry St., near Mosco Street, Chinatown — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Wok-fried hog hoof jelly with pepper at Le Sia

I went to Le Sia again last week, and thankfully, it’s just as good as the first time I tried it. The dish that gets me every time is the hog hoof jelly ($16.95), a big and pleasingly unphotogenic pile of chopped up pig’s foot stir-fried with diced pepper. It’s the right level of spice, and the gelatinous bites of pig feet have just the right amount of give to the texture to make it addictive. Little bits of char here, along with the crunch of the pepper, balance the mouthfeel out. It’s like snacking on a savory version of a gummy bear, and it’s amazing. 11 East Seventh St., near Third Avenue, East Village — Serena Dai, editor

NAFTA poutine at UpNorth
NAFTA poutine at UpNorth
Photo by Robert Sietsema

NAFTA poutine at UpNorth

It’s not exactly health food, but it sure does taste good. Facetiously named after the North American Free Trade Agreement, this bar snack ($11) combines elements of the three treaty signatories: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. From Canada comes poutine, but with American tater tots substituted. The dish also resembles Mexican nachos, with its toppings of cheese sauce, sour cream, flavored ground beef, and pico de gallo. Find it at UpNorth, a new Quebec-inspired bar; wash it down with Canadian beers in bottles and on tap. 17 Wyckoff Ave., between Jefferson and Troutman streets, Bushwick — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Madeleines at Daniel
Madeleines at Daniel
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Madeleines at Daniel

For nearly five years, pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira has been leading the sweet kitchen at Restaurant Daniel, one of the city’s most luxe French dining rooms. Her desserts, which change seasonally, make luscious use of fruit and chocolate, weaving texture with flavors that dance from sweet to tart to salty to floral on the tongue. I ordered her whole dessert menu recently with a small group of pals and every single one was exquisite. (I highly recommend ordering the whole dessert menu, in general!) But I was also pleased to see that the restaurant’s signature petit fours — freshly baked madeleines — were still presented to each table in an origami napkin basket. Like puffs of sweet lemon-scented steam they evaporate on the tongue, leaving behind the flavor of good butter. They’ve been a feature of the restaurant since its opening. May some things never change. 60 East 65th St., near Park Avenue, Upper East Side — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Canotto salato at Sullivan Street Bakery
Canotto salato at Sullivan Street Bakery
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Canotto salato at Sullivan Street Bakery

Last week, when I wrote about the stunning egg sandwich at the renovated Sullivan Street Bakery in Hell’s Kitchen, I also snuck in a few quick words about the canotto salato ($4.25), a slab of mascarpone-stuffed brioche baked with a layer of crispy prosciutto and gruyere. Let me give that dish a more proper Sutton love song here (with a photo to boot): It is one of the city’s best riffs on a ham and cheese, particularly due to the unexpected sweetness; the sugars in the bread and mascarpone make the bun feel equal parts lunch staple, equal parts pastry. I’d happily eat it for dessert any day of the week. Who wouldn’t want ham for dessert? 533 West 47th St., near 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

May 14

Joe & Pat’s clam pizza
Joe & Pat’s clam pizza
Photo by Robert Sietsema

White Clam Pizza at Joe & Pat’s

The debut of revered Staten Island pizzeria Joe & Pat’s in the former Lanza’s space was a welcome addition to the East Village’s massive pizza smorgasbord, and an early look at the pies didn’t disappoint. Foremost is the white clam pie ($26), a 16-inch circle of dough browned to a turn and covered with minced clams. Unlike its New Haven counterpart, this pizza also features cheese. 168 First Ave., between 10th and 11th streets, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Avocado toast is topped with lemon, cheese, tomato, egg, and black sesame seeds
Hole in the Wall avocado toast
Serena Dai/Eater

Avocado toast at Hole in the Wall

Yeah, yeah, yeah, avocado toast is kind of overdone and can be obnoxiously trendy, but it’s also delicious — especially when a restaurant doesn’t phone it in for the sake of having it on the menu. Australian coffee shop Hole in the Wall, located on the ground floor of a residential high-rise in FiDi, is a well-manicured little cafe with a particularly thoughtful avocado toast ($12). The toppings don’t fall off in droves with every bite, instead delivering a surprisingly easy to eat specimen with both the lovely saltiness of feta and the tartness of tomatoes. The iced coffee is a must-have, too. 15 Cliff St., between John and Fulton streets, FiDi — Serena Dai, editor

Wedge salad at Donohue’s
Wedge salad at Donohue’s
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Wedge Salad at Donohue’s Steak House

I’ll never pass up a wedge salad: The combination of crisp, watery iceberg lettuce, creamy blue cheese dressing, and bacon is almost never bad. But at Donohue’s Steak House, one of the Upper East Side’s oldest steakhouses, it nears perfection ($8.50). A third of a head of lettuce sits atop an oval plate and under a thick blanket of cold dressing. Chunks of mild blue hide under the creamy sauce, but the restaurant adds more, finer crumbles to the top and then sprinkles on a generous handful of freshly fried bacon shards. They aren’t as meaty as the lardons on Peter Luger’s version, but they’re much more crisp than the faux, forgettable bacon bits that Smith and Wollensky uses. Donohue’s nails the genre. Don’t miss owner Maureen Donohue-Peters holding court at one of the near booths, and do say hi to Johnny if you sit at the bar — he’s one of the best bartenders in the city. 845 Lexington Ave., between East 64 and 65th streets, Upper East Side — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Scallion goddess salad at Fuku

On the off days I don’t bring my lunch, I look forward to the fried dark chicken bites ($3.50) at Fuku, covered in a thick, crunchy crust that’s laden with salt and flavorful spices. To make myself feel vaguely healthy, I pair them with a salad, which now that it’s spring is the scallion goddess version ($11), served with greens, green cabbage, radishes, asparagus, chopped egg, pickled red onions, wasabi peas, and scallion green goddess dressing. It used to be kale, which was a little unwieldy, but this version is a bit more refined, and the wasabi peas add a satisfying crunch and heat. 110 Wall St. at Front Street, Financial District — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Chicken Soup at Empanada Mama

Perhaps one day I’ll write a 1,000 word essay describing how there’s no chicken soup in the city like the one they serve at Empanada Mama. For now I’ll speak in more practical terms: I was sick with a respiratory infection recently; I wanted hot broth help me clear out my chest; and Empanada Mama was just a few blocks away. The Colombian-style soup ($9.50) is studded with fragrant cilantro and the broth is so rich with chicken collagen it turns to jelly in the refrigerator. No noodles here; the appropriate starch is a side of rice, which you throw into the soup to make it a proper stew. I’ll have to try this sometime while I’m healthy; I bet it’s even better! 765 9th Ave. near 51st Street — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

May 7

squid ink pasta
Spaghetti nero at Fausto
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Squid Ink Pasta at Fausto

A colleague dragged me to an early dinner on Friday; she insisted on Joe Campanale’s Fausto, an Italian restaurant in the old Franny’s space where I’ve had some uneven meals over the past few months. But this time the food, by chef Erin Shambura, was on more even footing! The highlight of our short, snack-ish meal was the spaghetti nero with rock shrimp, soppressata, ramps, and breadcrumbs ($22). The pasta had a toothsome, al dente bite; the rock shrimp packed a distinct maritime tang; and the sausage added just a touch of salty funk. I’ll be back! 348 Flatbush Ave., between Sterling and St. Johns Place, Park Slope — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Asparagus fritto at Pheasant
Asparagus fritto at Pheasant
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Asparagus Fritto at Pheasant

Brooklyn has become paved with ambitious neighborhood bistros adept at justifying their prices with scintillatingly fresh ingredients prepared in sometimes astonishing ways. Nothing could be more early summery than this jarring plate of fried asparagus, cold smoked ham, and little poofs of whipped potato and leek, further flavored with fresh dill. At Pheasant, this juxtaposition ($11) is counterintuitive — and totally right. 445 Graham Ave., between Frost and Richardson streets, Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Yuzu shoyu ramen at Mr. Taka Ramen
Yuzu shoyu ramen at Mr. Taka Ramen
Photo by Stefanie Tuder

Yuzu shoyu ramen at Mr. Taka Ramen

Before a trip to Tokyo earlier this year, I had never heard of yuzu-infused ramen, in which the bright citrus fruit is added to broth to brighten and lighten. I tried and loved the style at Afuri, a local Tokyo chain that I’m frankly surprised has not yet opened here, and so when I saw it on the menu at Mr. Taka Ramen on the Lower East Side, I pounced. It was not quite as good as what I had in Japan, but it was still very good and sufficiently filled that void for me. The chashu pork was also among the best I’ve had in NYC, with properly rendered fat, tender meat, and a nicely charred exterior. 170 Allen St. between Stanton and Rivington streets, Lower East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Alambres at Chavela’s
Alambres at Chavela’s
Photo by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Alambres at Chavela’s

At just $8.95, the alambres on the lunch menu at Chavela’s is almost too good to be true. The tortillas came out extra hot, piled next to a heap of thin strips of steak, sliced peppers and onions, and gooey Oaxaca cheese. Sides of refried beans and thick, spicy guajillo sauce round out the stuffings. Load it all into the tortillas for a filling, meaty lunch. 736 Franklin Ave., at Sterling Place, Crown Heights — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

Knafeh at Tanoreen

I finally made it to Tanoreen, the lovely Palestinian and Middle Eastern restaurant in Bay Ridge from Rawia and Jumana Bishara, for a friend’s birthday, and while the savory courses were all a delight, the winner of the night was a juicy slice of knafeh, cut from a large version ($20) that came to the table with a single candle. The syrupy pastry with crispy noodles on the outside and a soft white cheese inside was just the nutty ending necessary to the meal, and far better than any birthday sheet cake. 7523 Third Ave., at 76th Street, Bay Ridge — Serena Dai, editor

April 30

Eggs benedict at ABC Kitchen
Eggs benedict at ABC Kitchen
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Eggs benedict at ABC Kitchen

Eggs benedict is often one of the worst dishes on the classic brunch menu, and the culprit is usually the hollandaise sauce. This emulsion of egg yolk, melted butter, and lemon juice is invariably too thick and profuse, and is often broken (separated) or slightly rancid. At ABC Kitchen, though, a perfect example of the dish ($20) includes designer ham rather than the usual Canadian bacon, and the yellow hollandaise is perfectly rendered, and poured with a restrained hand. 35 East 18th St., between Broadway and Park Avenue South, Union Square — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Beef tongue sandwich at Liebman’s

My personal claim to fame is being pictured eating at Liebman’s in Riverdale in a 2014 Times profile of the place. It’s one of my absolute favorite Jewish delis. I go about twice a year to the family-owned institution, open since 1953, and it is comfortingly always exactly the same. The no-frills, luncheonette atmosphere offers a typical deli menu with pastrami, corned beef, knishes, hot dogs, pickles, cole slaw, and more. I usually get the overstuffed corned beef sandwich, but this time I opted to try the tongue ($20.45), and I just might have a new go-to order. The thinly sliced meat was extra tender and mildly cured for a both sweet and salty flavor. If you go, don’t skip the thick-cut fries. 552 West 235th St., between Oxford and Johnson avenues, Riverdale — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Tempura scallops at The Pool
Tempura scallops at The Pool
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Scallops at The Pool

On Friday, I treated myself to drinks and small bites at The Pool, the half of the old Four Seasons space that’s not The Grill. I awarded two stars in my review, though on this particular occasion I was hanging out at The Pool’s cocktail lounge, where I ordered a pile of tempura fried scallops for $23. They were spectacular. The marshmallow-like mollusks were cool and medium rare within, with a greaseless exterior that yielded a distinct but not overwhelming crunch. A tart, verdant dipping sauce on the side kept all the maritime sugars in check. I’ll be back for these, and for Thomas Waugh’s righteous cocktails. 99 East 52nd St., between Lexington and Park avenues, Midtown East — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

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Olmsted’s butternut squash bread

On a sunny Sunday last week, I made it back to Olmsted after some time away and was pleased to see that my prediction that the restaurant would shine during the daytime was correct. Lots of the brunch fare is delightful; a standout was the orange-colored butternut squash bread, which came out warm to a seat in the garden. The bread was soft, steaming, and utterly moist, and somehow managed also to be surprising with a swab of Harbison cheese clotted cream. It was a bit salty, and perfect. 659 Vanderbilt Ave., between Prospect and Park places, Prospect Heights — Serena Dai, editor

Grilled cheese and tomato soup at Forrest Point

Forrest Point in Bushwick has the cutest outdoor seating area. Its fried chicken sandwich, unfortunately, is just okay, but the classic grilled cheese with mortadella is on-point. It’s upstaged, however, by the creamy tomato soup that comes alongside it. Thick and more of a dark orange than red thanks to generous amounts of cream, it’s ideal comfort food. Skip some of the heartier sandwich options for this $14 combo. 970 Flushing Ave., near Forrest Street, Bushwick — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

April 23

Frenchette’s Spanish tortilla with trout roe
Frenchette’s Spanish tortilla with trout roe
Photo by Serena Dai

Frenchette’s Spanish tortilla with trout roe

Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson’s first solo restaurant in Tribeca is as charming as people have been saying. It’s lively and warm, filled with stylish people and business folk and also just normies like me. Everything I ate was fantastic, but I was most impressed by the Spanish tortilla trout roe. A dish that’s made primarily of egg and potato sounds like it could be a heavy start to meal, but Frenchette’s version of the dish is light and packed with the umami of smartly incorporated trout roe. It’s addictive, and in this day and age, it felt like a steal for $7. 241 West Broadway, between Walker and White streets, Tribeca — Serena Dai, editor

Assorted vegetable dough drop soup at Le Sia

The spicy seafood boils are obviously the main attraction at new East Village Chinese restaurant Le Sia, but this tomato-based, vegetable-loaded soup ($12.95) with ribbons of egg and soft, small free-form dumplings has swiftly become my go-to comfort food in the city. It’s rich but not overwhelming, and it comes in a massive bowl, easily big enough for two. 11 East Seventh St., near Third Avenue — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

Macarons from Maison Laduree
Macarons from Maison Laduree
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Macarons from Maison Laduree

I tend to champion homegrown restaurants and chains over underperforming international luxury brands (like Robuchon), but my main gripe with the Paris-based Maison Laduree, with locations in Soho and on the Upper East Side, is that there isn’t one closer to my apartment. I’ve yet to have a better macaron in New York, and I developed a nasty hankering for the rose variety recently. The creme-filled confection, three for $8.40, collapsed in my mouth with a gentle flick of the tongue, while the astringent aromas of the namesake flower provided a quick shot of perfume. 398 West Broadway, between Spring and Broome streets, Soho — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Minestrone at Rosemary’s
Minestrone at Rosemary’s
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Minestrone at Rosemary’s

I know minestrone is supposed to have beans, but the version at Rosemary’s ($18) doesn’t. There’s elbow macaroni, though not a lot of it. Instead, there are all sorts of root vegetables and starchy spuds in a roasted vegetable broth that’s unforgettable, and not just because it’s poured tableside. Lots of other vegetable driven dishes are on the menu, too, including a kale and celery Caesar, linguine with preserved lemon and parmigiana, and a fine Sicilian eggplant caponata. 10 Greenwich Ave., at 10th Street, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Spicy crawfish at Le Sia
Crawfish at Le Sia
Stefanie Tuder/Eater

Crawfish at Le Sia

After a few jealous weeks of hearing my coworkers rave about Le Sia, I finally made it over to the new East Village Cajun-Chinese restaurant. Following a spicy crawfish feast, I can happily report that I, too, am a fan of the ocean insects doused in an umami-laden sauce. Aprons and gloves lend a playground vibe to the meal, which was also very affordable at $15 per pound of crawfish. I will say, though, to skip the skewers and focus on the main event — but do order some cooling cucumbers on the side. 11 East Seventh St., near Third Avenue — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

April 16

Ravioli Di Mare at Cent’anni

It’s not always on the menu, but any time the ravioli di mare ($22) shows up on the specials sheet at Crown Heights neighborhood Italian restaurant Cent’anni, it’s a must-order. Filled with salty-rich mixed seafood and covered in a creamy tomato sauce, the pasta dish is a hearty, filling meal that pairs great with a glass of montepulciano. It’s unfussy comfort food that’s easy to share. 742 Franklin Ave., near Sterling Place — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

Nargis Bar & Grill
Salad platter at Nargis Bar & Grill
Photo by Gary He

Assorted mixed spreads and salad platter at Nargis Bar & Grill

My colleague Ryan Sutton digs the meat kebabs at Nargis Bar & Grill, an Uzbek restaurant in Park Slope, but my favorite thing there was the assortment of vegetable-based dips and spreads ($17). The long platter comes packed with hummus, red cabbage, pickles, kimchi, and other savory and pickled delights. A carrot salad was particularly enjoyable, as was an incredibly garlicky eggplant-based dip. Tack on an order of bread, and that’s a meal. 155 Fifth Ave., between Douglass Street and Lincoln Place, Park Slope — Serena Dai, editor

The tuna among other crudo
The tuna among other crudo
Photo via Legacy Records

Tuna belly at Legacy Records

I swung by Legacy Records, the newest restaurant from the Pasquale Jones folks, half-wondering whether anyone would show up for dinner near 10th Avenue and 38th Street. And then I walked in, and the host told me about the very serious wait! I’ll save my comments on the overall meal for the formal review but for now, I’ll say this: The tuna crudo was damn good. For $21, service-included, I got a few pink squares of raw belly meat, lightly dressed in heady colatura and salty cured lemon. The fish wasn’t overchilled like it so often is, which meant the maritime fats expressed themselves with near perfect clarity. It was precisely the type of clean, simple, well-executed dish I was craving after a long week of writing. The daiquiri helped too, though. 518 West 38th St. near 10th Avenue — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Chorizo taco at San Antonio Farm & Grocery

From the outside it looks like any combo greengrocer and bodega, with vegetables, meats, and packaged goods prominently displayed. But persevere to the tiny steam table in the rear on any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, to discover a makeshift taqueria at San Antonio Farm & Grocery. It displays onion-flecked cecina, chicken tinga, and a roast pork pernil that isn’t really Mexican but makes great tacos anyway, and wonderful sliced chorizo, the very best choice. The bright red sausage is made in Corona, Queens, and flavored with fresh jalapeños, which give it added kick. One taco will set you back $3, almost a meal in itself. 85-25 37th Ave., at 86th Street, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Deep dark chocolate gelato at Bucket & Bay

Jersey City gelato shop Bucket & Bay takes its gelato very seriously, trucking in grass-fed cow milk from an Amish farm in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. And even in the deep dark chocolate gelato, available as a single, prepackaged takeaway portion for $6 at a nearby bodega, you can taste the creaminess and pungency of the milk. The chocolate flavor doesn’t mask the flavor of the milk itself, so the two flavors coexist in a very rich, satisfying way. 150 Bay St. between Marin Boulevard and Provost Street, Jersey City, New Jersey — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

April 9

Spaghetti squash kufta at Rahi
Spaghetti squash kufta at Rahi
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Spaghetti squash kufta at Rahi

Greenwich Village’s Rahi is one of a spate of new and ambitious Indian restaurants that rework familiar dishes with new ingredients, via chef Chintan Pandya. Thus kofta, normally a ground meat dish, is reformulated as a vegetarian recipe, shaping various squashes into globular fritters and then immersing them in a rich butternut squash puree, punctuated with little dabs of whipped paneer. The effect is surprising and unforgettable, and the cost is $26. 60 Greenwich Ave., between Perry and 11th streets, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Chicken tikka masala and naan at Taco Mahal
Photo by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Chicken tikka masala and naan at Taco Mahal

I’m naturally weary of places that go too hard on the Indian fusion angle, but despite its somewhat silly name, Taco Mahal serves solid fast-casual Indian food. The name’s a bit misleading: These aren’t really Indian “tacos” so much as familiar Indian entrees served atop Indian breads — choice of naan or roti — similar to the style of the popular Kati Roll Company. The chicken tikka masala is rich with spice, the naan soft and buttery. It’s $7 and makes for a satisfying lunch. 73 Seventh Ave., near Bleecker Street, West Village — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

Chocolates at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolates
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Chocolates at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolates

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolates, a spacious shop next door to Gabriel Kreuther, the restaurant, is quietly making some of the best chocolates in the city. In fact, based on variety, quality, consistency, and flavor balance alone, I’d call these the very best. Square paves of infused ganache, molded, molten caramels, and layered fruit chocolates ($2 to $4 each) stand out from the hard-shelled, saccharine Godivas of the world. Each filling, from vanilla ganache to more unique pairings, pairs perfectly with the chocolate that enrobes it: Aleppo pepper tames the tropical flavors of mango and passionfruit with a slight smokiness; peanut salted caramel tastes like the best peanut brittle, turned liquid; and apricot bergamot, with its chewy fruit layer, feels like the days when summer turns into fall. One last note: Don’t miss the crunchy, salty macadamia nut toffee ($16), either. 43 West 42nd St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, Midtown East — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Almond apricot cake at Studio
Almond apricot cake at Studio
Photo by Serena Dai

Almond apricot cake at Studio at Freehand Hotel

The good news is that Studio and the lush, plant-packed lounge right by it in the Freehand Hotel is just as beautiful in person as it looks like from everybody’s Instagram feeds. Even better news is that the food is on point. A standout comes from pastry chef Zoe Kanan, whose almond apricot cake is as tasty as it is photogenic. It’s moist and nutty and addictive, with a bright accent that helps it avoid the cloying sweetness that befalls many cakes. Upstairs, 23 Lexington Avenue, between East 23rd and 24th streets — Serena Dai, editor

Whole grilled dourade at Platia

So I had my first bike race on Saturday, and let’s just say both my ego and my stomach needed a bit of nourishment afterwards (I got dropped hard). The venue in question was Platia, one of Long Island’s best Greek restaurants. I ordered a whole grilled dourade ($29) with my family and pretty much finished it myself. There weren’t any flourishes here, just briny capers and good olive oil garnishing firm white flesh. A whole fish is my typical post-ride meal, and it never fails. 4 Berry Hill Rd., near Muttontown Eastwoods Road, Syosset — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

April 2

Vietnamese iced coffee layer cake at Meme’s Diner

Everyone talks about the brunch at Meme’s Diner, the adorable, warm, soulful cafe in Prospect Heights, but I opted to meet a friend there last week for dinner. I enjoyed the meal, but the most memorable part for me was dessert. The lime pie with a Ritz cracker crust teetered on the edge of being too salty, but the Vietnamese iced coffee cake — two layers of moist, coffee-flavored and coffee-soaked cake coated with a thick, condensed milk frosting marbled with cocoa-cardamom fudge for $8 — hit all of the right notes. “This is like a cake someone would make at home ... if they were a very, very, very good baker,” my friend said. That homespun charm coupled with the addictive combination of bitter coffee and sticky-sweet icing made it a cake I’ll never forget — and plan to order again, soon. 657 Washington Ave. near St. Mark’s Avenue, Prospect Heights — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Shrimp tacos at Chavela’s

Why get just one taco when you can get two? At $10, the shrimp tacos at Crown Heights Mexican restaurant Chavela’s come two to an order and are a decent size, topped with pico de gallo and cabbage and slathered in spicy, creamy chipotle mayo. They’re rich and filling. Be sure to wash them down with the house cocktail called “Don Pepino,” made with tequila, cucumber, and cilantro. 736 Franklin Ave., at Sterling Place, Crown Heights — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

Sausage toast at La Vara
Sausage toast at La Vara
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Sausage toast at La Vara

Every March for my birthday, I hit up La Vara in Cobble Hill. Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s Michelin-starred establishment is, without question, one of the city’s best Spanish restaurants. This year was the rare occasion where I had the foresight to make a reservation (three weeks in advance), which means I didn’t have to wait 90 minutes for seats on a Saturday. My favorite dish remains the sobrasada sausage, spread onto toasty bread and topped with honey foam ($11). This is a haute version of the classic Menorcan pairing, the honey acting as a sweet foil to the fiery sausage. I’ll be back more often. 268 Clinton St. at Verandah Place, Clinton Hill — Ryan sutton, chief critic

Meatball parm hero at Stella’s, with giant meatballs and oozing cheese all around.
Meatball parm hero at Stella’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Meatball parm hero at Stella’s

One of the best pizzerias in Manhattan is Stella’s, located across the street from the housing projects and just north of the glitzy restaurant Tao in Chelsea. And who can resist its meatball parm hero ($8), which is made on a compact loaf of Parisi Bakery bread? The meatballs are earthy and profuse; the cheese appropriately gooey, pulling away from to sandwich to your mouth after each bite; and the tomato sauce with a touch of sweetness. You can gobble the whole thing in one sitting (or standing), but probably shouldn’t. 110 Ninth Ave., between 17th and 18th streets, Chelsea — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Jerusalem artichoke and chocolate parfait at Flora Bar

This week I pregamed an omakase dinner with dessert at Flora Bar, the expensive and beautiful uptown jaunt from the Estela team. I’ve heard much ado about pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz, and indeed her Jerusalem artichoke and chocolate parfait ($13) blew me away. I had no idea what to expect — which is why I ordered it — and I’m still not totally sure what I ate, but am pretty sure it was perfectly smooth frozen artichoke custard with crunchy artichoke bits atop a chocolate base. The earthiness of the artichokes balanced beautifully against the sweet, cool custard and deeply chocolate bottom. 945 Madison Ave. at 75th Street, Upper East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

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