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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Buffalo chicken pizza, grilled cabbage with mussels, and more

A facade with an open front and light blue sign with block lettering above.
Uncle Lou in Chinatown.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — 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.

April 25

A clay pot filled with pork belly and preserved vegetables.
Pork belly and preserved vegetables at Uncle Lou.
Stephanie Wu/Eater NY

Pork belly and preserved vegetables at Uncle Lou

We went to Uncle Lou on Saturday to celebrate a birthday. My Cantonese mother-in-law took the lead on ordering the classics, and I made sure, based on a recommendation from my colleague Robert Sietsema, that the orange sauce homestyle chenpi duck ($15) was on the list. We loved that dish, but my favorite was the pork belly with preserved vegetables. It arrived in a large clay pot — at the very top was a generous serving of sliced pork belly, resting on a bed of preserved vegetables, and some fork-tender baby cauliflower hidden at the bottom, which had absorbed the juices from the pork and vegetables. The dish came with mantou (Chinese steamed buns) on the side, so we could make our own bao. It was an incredible combination of fat, acid, crunch, and carb, and was the highlight of our meal. 73 Mulberry Street, between Bayard and Canal streets, Chinatown — Stephanie Wu, executive editor

A white bowl with a crispy duck leg over rice with green vegetables and a side of hoisin sauce.
Mandarin duck at Milu.
Matthew Kang/Eater NY

Mandarin duck at Milu

While I had plenty of epic dishes in New York a few weeks back, my favorite unsung plate was this beautiful bowl of tender duck leg served alongside duck-fat-infused rice, hoisin sauce, and marinated cucumbers. The nicely browned duck sported hefty, moist meat and shatteringly crisp skin. The marinated cucumbers brought a satisfying crunch to the fat-laden rice and rich duck. Of course, I had to get an order of egg tart soft serve to go. I couldn’t believe how great this meal was for less than $24, but I’m left wondering why Milu isn’t packed to the gills. 333 Park Avenue South, between East 24th and 25th streets, Gramercy —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

Wifey sandwich at Foster Sundry

I made the short walk to Foster Sundry from my apartment with the butcher shop’s breakfast burrito in mind based on my colleague Luke’s recommendation. But then I caught a glimpse of the Wifey sandwich ($13) on the menu behind the counter and knew it was the exact thing I wanted that morning: smoked whitefish salad, confit potatoes, and soft-boiled eggs on toasted ciabatta. In between bites of the sandwich I texted Luke to say 1) I was sorry I didn’t get the burrito and 2) that I wasn’t actually sorry because the Wifey more than hit the spot. I think I compared it to a tortilla Española but only with whitefish salad, or like the crab toast from ABC Kitchen that was my big-spender dinner in my early 20s, except with the wonderful additions of soft egg and potato. But this order was not like either of those things and just a faultless sandwich all on its own. I’ll be back soon for the breakfast burrito — or another Wifey. 215 Knickerbocker Avenue, at Troutman Street, Bushwick — Patty Diez, Eater Network Development Manager

A square tomato slice sits on a sheet of wax paper; a bite mark is visible on the lower left side of the slice
A tomato slice at Sullivan Street Bakery.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Tomato pizza at Sullivan Street Bakery

Watching crowds get bigger by the week at Sullivan Street Bakery feels like a Hell’s Kitchen analogue to springtime cherry blossoms blooming. It’s a sign that life is not just coming back to the city but thriving. What’s just as wonderful, of course, is watching Jim Lahey’s tomato pizza change from day to day. On my last visit this past Sunday, the fruit was pulpier and sweeter than it was during the cooler months, with a whisper of tartness to balance things out. And the crust sported a nice bouncy chew. I’ve written about this slice before, and I’ll likely write about it again because I find its purity so striking. Unlike other, more indulgent tomato slices, Sullivan Street’s more austere variety doesn’t rely on grated cheese for extra umami or luscious pools of olive oil dripping down the edges. This slice is simply an ode to fruit and bread. 533 West 47th Street, near 11th Avenue — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A fried ball of carbonara on a white plate.
Frittatina di maccheroni alla carbonara at Song’E Napule.
Stefania Orrù/Eater NY

Frittatina di maccheroni alla carbonara at Song’E Napule Pizzeria & Trattoria

Trust me when I say I have been fundamentally, spiritually, and emotionally changed by Song’E Napule’s fried carbonara ball. Generously stuffed with a fistful of pasta alla carbonara, fried to crunchy perfection, and drizzled with melty Parmigiano...I probably could have inhaled 57 or so of them if it were socially acceptable to do so in public. And don’t skip the pizza at either of their locations in NJ or Greenwich Village. In fact, order an extra to go. Maybe slice a leftover frittatina and put it on your leftover pizza. No rules, just vibes. 106 Park Avenue, Rutherford, NJ — Stefania Orrù, Eater Supervising Producer

A white and blue plate with grilled cabbage, mussels, and shavings of truffle on top.
Grilled cabbage with mussels at Dame.
Phoebe Rios/Eater NY

Grilled cabbage with mussels at Dame

I popped into Dame on Friday night, delighted to find an intimate dining room with no more than a handful of tables and bar seating, plus a playlist featuring familiar karaoke favorites like Abba and Earth, Wind & Fire. As a Pacific Northwest native living in New York, I constantly crave salmon, Dungeness crab, and clams, but have struggled to find a dish reminiscent of home. So while the fish and chips were a real delight, it was the grilled cabbage with mussels and black truffle ($24) that brought me back to Seattle. The cabbage was hearty and tender with charred crispy bits around the edges. And the mussels could have easily stood on their own with their plump, rich texture, and just the right amount of brininess. With the help of a spoon, a flurry of shaved black truffle, and an old friend, I realized this is why New Yorkers clamor for a spot here. 87 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and Houston streets, Greenwich Village — Phoebe Rios, Eater Network Development Manager

Four slices of pizza, topped with penne pasta, buffalo chicken, and tomato sauce, are strewn out in the sun.
Four slices at the Sicilian.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Penne pasta pizza at the Sicilian

I’ve always felt like there’s a time and a place for pasta on pizza, although this weekend I learned not everyone agrees. “Offensive,” one person messaged me on Instagram after I posted the above image. It’s a fair question — “Does ravioli have a place on pizza?” — but it’s honestly not worth asking at this unhinged Windsor Terrace slice shop, which serves up “taco” pies around the clock and a better-than-you’d-think electronic playlist of Taylor Swift remixes. Despite the shop’s name, the Sicilian, we opted for a few of its triangular slices topped with penne pasta and buffalo chicken (around $5 each). The thin, overcooked dough didn’t have much chew, making these slices feel a bit like oversized nachos, but I’ll be back for the generous, reasonably priced portions alone. You just might not see me post about them. 229 Prospect Park West, near Windsor Place, Windsor Terrace — Luke Fortney, reporter

A white bowl with fried spicy beef tongue with green peppers and scallions next to two glass jars of hot sauce.
Chele khatsa (fried spicy beef tongue) at Phayul.
Nat Belkov/Eater NY

Chele khatsa (fried spicy beef tongue) at Phayul

Wok hei, or “breath of the wok”, is the Cantonese term that refers to the unique flavors of a dish that has hit the surface — if only for a few moments — of an incredibly hot, well-seasoned wok. It’s also what makes the chele khatsa ($13), or fried spicy beef tongue, at this Jackson Heights mainstay unforgettable time and time again. Grabbing a table at their original second floor location means sidling up to dinner and a show, as Phayul’s chefs fire up the wok and expertly toss anything from creamy blood sausage to snappy string beans onto its screaming surface, sending pungent fireballs rolling up into the hood above. The beef is jerky-like in texture — tender with just the right amount of chew. And clinging to each scallion and sliver of onion is a slick glaze, heady with the likes of garam masala, cumin, toasted chili paste, and dark soy sauce. Taking alternating tears from the communal tingmo, we sopped up the sauce that remained after the tongue had been devoured and reveled in the spice that lingered on our lips the entire train ride home. 37-65 74th Street, between 37th Road and Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights — Nat Belkov, Eater Design Director

April 18

An employee scoops a piece of saucy chicken from a steam table tray at El Gran Castillo de Jagua.
A stream tray of chicken at El Gran Castillo de Jagua.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Rotisserie chicken at El Gran Castillo de Jagua

Was it just six months ago that I was writing about El Gran Castillo de Jagua in this very column? Apparently yes, but a lot’s happened since then. The decades-old Dominican restaurant “permanently closed” in December, after its owners shared on Facebook that they had lost their lease on Flatbush Avenue. Hope seemed lost, until a sign reappeared on the storefront last month: “Castillo returns April 1, 2022.” I finally made it over to the restaurant last week, and I ordered a takeout container with the usual pinto beans, yellow rice, plantains, and rotisserie chicken. Before the closure, a spoonful of all four (with a squirt of lemon) could change your life for around $10 — and sure enough, these steam table sides still hit the spot. A worker told me the restaurant is from the same owners, then shrugged when I asked what had changed with its lease. 355 Flatbush Avenue, between Sterling and Park places, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

A mound of crispy rice, chilis, and other vegetables on a white plate with a spoon to the left.
Curried rice croquette and preserved pork salad at Playground.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Curried rice croquette and preserved pork salad at Playground

I was eagerly expecting to see crispy, golden-fried balls of rice perched on my plate when this salad ($14) arrived at my table at Thai spot Playground — located near the convergence of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Woodside — but I ended up in an even happier place. After frying up the croquettes, the kitchen smashes the balls to bits and serves the salad as a heap of crackly, fried rice with small bites of preserved pork, snappy slices of red onion, scallions, peanuts, and some diced peppers tossed into the mix. As I was crunching my way through the meal, I thought of about a hundred other salads across the city that could benefit from the savory textural touches deployed by this kitchen. Cash only. 71-30 Roosevelt Avenue, near 72nd Street, Elmhurst — Erika Adams, deputy editor

A plate with chopped steak topped with onions and served with a side of fries.
Chopped sirloin steak at Donohue’s Steak House.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Chopped sirloin steak at Donohue’s Steak House

Donohue’s Steak House was on my bucket list before the pandemic hit, so I was glad this family-run restaurant survived the past two years. Dining at this old-timey space — with its black leather booths and red table clothes — felt like going into a time warp. I dug into my hefty chopped sirloin steak ($31) as I watched a mix of suited businessmen inhale burgers, two women with dark rimmed glasses drink white wine, and a young couple in Carhartt hats at the bar peck away at their phones. In between bites of the medium rare steak, smothered in caramelized onions, and my side of fries, I couldn’t help but bask in the Cheers-like vibe. When I finished my dish, I understood why New Yorkers keep coming back here — it’s as much about the no-frills menu as it the mix of people that feel right at home. 845 Lexington Avenue, between East 64th and 65th streets, Upper East Side — Bao Ong, editor

April 11

A blue ceramic plate with Vietnamese pork summer rolls known as goi cuon nem nuong, cut in calf with a dipping sauce on the side.
Goi cuon nem nuong (pork summer rolls) at Sai Gon Dep.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Goi cuon nem nuong at Sai Gon Dep

Nem nuong, a Vietnamese recipe for grilled pork sausage, is difficult to find on menus in NYC. When I swung by Sai Gon Dep to warm up over a bowl of pho ga, however, I spotted the goi cuon version ($8) that I think about often — especially the ones that have a cult following at Brodard in Orange County, California. The tightly wrapped spring roll features a generous slice of fatty pork, which looks like Spam, sitting atop a bed of herbs, slivers of cucumbers, shredded lettuce, and, perhaps, my second favorite ingredient in the dish, a deep-friend wonton shaped like a baton that gives each bite some crunch. It was a refreshing start to a quick lunch that almost made me forget my noodle soup was still on its way because I was already thinking about placing an order to take home. 719 Second Avenue, between East 38th and 39th streets, Murray Hill — Bao Ong, editor

The neon sign of a food truck, with the words “Tacos Morelos,” shines in the night.
Tacos Morelos, parked outside of House of Yes in Bushwick.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Chile relleno burrito at Tacos Morelos

Tacos Morelos usually sets up shop within a few blocks of House of Yes in Bushwick, but on Saturday evening — er, Sunday morning — this late-night taco truck had hunkered down right in front of the storied nightlife venue. I wasn’t coming from there, but most of its customers appeared to be, sprawled out on the sidewalk with overflowing quesadillas and outfits that probably could have been in Everything Everywhere All At Once. I spotted a chile relleno burrito on the menu, and after having one last month at Burritos Juarez, an ongoing pop-up in Williamsburg, I had to oblige ($11). The cheese-filled fried chile that came inside of it probably would have been enough on its own at this hour, but the addition of rice and beans turned out to be just what I needed to close out the night. Multiple locations, parked on the corner of Wyckoff and Jefferson avenues, Bushwick — Luke Fortney, reporter

A palm-sized tart with yellow filling in a miniature tin foil holder.
A coconut tart from Anpanman Bakery
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Coconut tart at Anpanman Bakery

I scooped up an excellent, palm-sized coconut tart ($1.50) at Anpanman Bakery in Chinatown while out on an early morning snack stroll last week — a great routine that I highly recommend. The filling was fluffy, not too sugary, and displayed a precise knowledge of how much coconut should really be in a coconut tart. (Honestly, a light sprinkling goes a long way.) It was all held together in a flaky, buttery pie shell. Go early, as the pastry cases are pretty much emptied out by early afternoon. 83 Canal Street, near Eldridge Street, Chinatown — Erika Adams, deputy editor

Alcapurrias at the Freakin Rican

New York doesn’t boast the number of cuchifrito parlors it used to, which is why I’m inclined to order a certain specialty of those Puerto Rican lunch counters whenever I encounter one. That speciality is the alcapurria, a fried mash of root vegetables stuffed with picadillo. I remember falling in love with the yucca version l sampled at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos in the Bronx; it nearly sported a mochi-like chew beneath the golden exterior. But I was also quite taken by the traditional green plantain alcpaurria ($4.25) when I sampled it last week at Derick Lopez’s acclaimed Freakin Rican restaurant in Astoria. Lopez’s oblong fritter flaunted a handsome mahogany exterior; the texture of the shell was faintly crisp, before giving way to a soft and starchy layer of mashed platanos. The ground meat core provided a touch of saltiness and juiciness, but really, the highlight was the fruit, which emitted a faint but noticeable tropical aroma. I seriously need to eat alcapurrias more often. 4306 34th Avenue, near 43rd Street, Astoria — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

April 4

A hand clutches half of a sandwich with meats, cheeses, and lettuce against a background of granite steps.
A salami sandwich at Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Salami sandwich at Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta

There’s something about large menus — the kind found at Greek diners, 24-hour bodegas, dim sum parlors, and this Italian grocer in Park Slope — that stops me in my tracks. “How long would it take to actually read this thing?” I’m usually thinking, when an employee asks for my order. In this case, like others, I panic ordered the first thing on the menu, a sandwich dusted in flour and stuffed with slices of salami, ham, lettuce and provolone ($13). Should I have asked for “more time,” or at the very least something with mozzarella, the cheese for which this Brooklyn offshoot of a century-old East Village shop is named and known for? Probably, but on a Sunday afternoon seemingly made for outdoor dining, provolone more than did the trick. 312 Fifth Avenue, between Second and Third streets, Park Slope — Luke Fortney, reporter

Garlic shrimp pie at Cuts & Slices

I spent the bulk of my Cuts & Slices review singing the praises of a few Caribbean-themed slices, especially ones with sweet chile oxtail, spicy jerk shrimp, and curried oxtail. But anyone who’s visited Randy McLaren’s Brooklyn pizzeria knows that there’s much more on tap. The website lists fried salmon diavolo pizza, jerk chicken sausage with black truffle Alfredo, and even a slice involving chicken and French toast. Among that larger selection of internationally leaning pizza, I was particularly taken by the shrimp parmesan ($10). Tiny little crustaceans sit atop a layer of cheese with tons of garlic butter. The white slice is everything you’d expect: crisp, airy, and garlicky, with the shellfish adding a touch of gentle maritime sugars and textures. Heat it up in your toaster oven and let the heady aromas of shrimp scampi perfume your kitchen. 93 Howard Avenue, at Halsey Street, Bed-Stuy — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A black bowl of white noodles, green and red vegetables, and yellow scrambled eggs.
Stir-fried egg and pepper noodle bowl from Silky Kitchen.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Stir-fried egg and pepper noodle bowl from Silky Kitchen

It feels like a lifetime ago, but remember last Monday, when it was so cold and windy that it hurt to breathe outside? I scrapped more ambitious dinner plans that night and melted into a takeout bowl of stir-fried egg and pepper with noodles from fast-casual Hunanese restaurant Silky Kitchen ($12). It was the exact meal that I needed to ride out winter’s last gasp: Soft, thick ropes of noodles came coiled around diced green and red peppers, crunchy baby bok choy, and scrambled egg that had been absolutely doused in tongue-tingling spices. My insides defrosted immediately. 137 East 13th Street, near Third Avenue, Union Square — Erika Adams, deputy editor

A vegan version of chicken parm sandwich cut in half with a basil leaf on top.
A vegan chicken parm at Unregular Pizza.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Vegan chicken parm at Unregular Pizza

I’ve been thinking about hot parm heros ever since Eater critic Robert Sietsema wrote about his 11 favorites in NYC. I recently stopped by Unregular Pizza to check out its pies, in particular the Burrapizza — square slices topped with an orb of creamy burrata — but it was the chicken parm ($12.50) that caught my eye. This version checked off all the boxes I wanted in this Italian-American sandwich: The toasted focaccia wasn’t so oversized that each bite was mostly bread. The golden cutlet of poultry was crisp. Just enough sweet marina was smoothered on top with thin discs of mozzarella and a few basil leaves. I could’ve been fooled, but it turns out the entire sandwich was meat-free. The cutlet didn’t have a cardboard consistency like so many other versions, and the Vertage cheese had that squeaky, QQ texture that makes mozzarella so appealing. Next time, I’ll come back for this sandwich and a vegan slice. 135 Fourth Avenue, between 13th and 14th streets, East Village — Bao Ong, editor