Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers and New York figures. For 2022’s final week, Eater NY will be posting questions daily about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best: Eater editors and friends of Eater. Now: What was 2022’s saddest restaurant closure?
Mahira Rivers, food journalist: So many! Kajitsu, which was the rare restaurant serving great shojin ryori cuisine. Mena, from Victoria Blamey, one of the best chef-driven restaurants New York had seen in a while. Dumpling Lab in the East Village, which had great northern Chinese-style dumplings. Angel’s Share was a huge bar loss (but redeemed somewhat by the opening of Martiny’s). Sofreh Cafe, which had such good savory pastries. And Pearl Oyster Bar! Not many restaurants know what a real shoestring fry should look like, but Pearl did.
Mohamed Attia, managing director, the Street Vendor Project: The Deco closing, as it was the home to Nansense, who make incredible Afghani food and are a longtime friend of SVP. But they’ve overcome so many hurdles throughout their years as a business and always overcome – we know they’ll strike again.
Robert Sietsema, senior food critic, Eater NY: Pearl Oyster Bar, a small-scale Yankee seafood restaurant with the best clam chowder in the world, where you could almost smell the sea breezes.
Jaeki Cho, host, Righteous Eats: It’s Bessou. It’s a spot that’s in Noho, for Japanese comfort food. The owner, Maiko, is very sweet. She and her head chef created this place that serves variations of Japanese home-cooked meals. It was one of my go-to spots if I wanted to meet someone in the city. I knew the menu by heart. I had my 30th birthday there. They had shishito peppers, that were charred to perfection, crispy rice, and chunky karaage, which I would have with an Orion.
Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief, Eater: Benny’s Burritos! I used to go there all the time, and I’m so glad we snuck in one last meal of a quesadilla grande and bulldog margaritas on their final day.
Sara, Madison, and Carly Shapiro, Sister Snacking: I feel like many of our favorites were impacted in 2020 and 2021 but one sad closure we were bummed we didn’t get to try was Forlini’s. We have been reviewing iconic New York City restaurants and that was high on our list. We will just keep going to Bamonte’s for our old-school red sauce fix.
Caroline Shin, contributor, Eater NY: My heart sank when I found out that Deksen and S&A West Indian shut down. On a frigid winter day earlier this year, Deksen in Elmhurst had warmed up my husband, Maddy, my daughter, and me with its moo ping and chicken curry noodle soup. I loved its illustrated menu and its triangular space that came together at an open kitchen in the back. S&A was one of the pioneers of Trinidadian classics, opening in Ozone Park in 1996, with the fluffiest aloo pies and spicy mango curry.
Christopher Robbins, editor, Hell Gate: Fat Choy. Delicious, affordable, and vegan. It really sucks they are closing!
Moonlynn Tsai, co-founder, Heart of Dinner: I was heartbroken when I learned that neighborhood staple Bessou was closing, Yin and I really got to know Maiko and her team during the pandemic and to watch a restaurant survive the pandemic, and to celebrate their sixth birthday, and then to hear about the restaurant having to shutter due to a rent hike was heartbreaking, but I’m so excited to see what magic Maiko creates next!
Mike Diago, writer, the Bittman Project: I was sad to see another Caracas close, even though I never used to go to the Williamsburg location. It makes me nervous about the Rockaway location—my favorite one.
Scott Lynch, contributor, Hell Gate and Brooklyn Magazine: Fat Choy! Can’t believe it. Wish I had gone more often but it was one of those spots I figured I always had in my back pocket, ready to be pulled out whenever. Lesson: Don’t wait! Eat at the places you love all the time!