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The Grill’s prime rib
Gary He

NYC’s Three- and Four-Star Restaurants From Ryan Sutton

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The Grill’s prime rib
| Gary He

Since his first review for Eater (Roberta’s in 2014), chief critic Ryan Sutton has reviewed over 100 New York City restaurants. But like any review will point out, not all restaurants are created equal. Here now, a guide to Sutton’s three- and four-star reviews.

Note: Restaurants on this map are located geographically, starting with south to north through Manhattan, then down through Brooklyn. This list was originally publish in April 2017, and updated in October 2017.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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“Change is risky. Even the most ambitious culinary establishments, the ones that overhaul half their menu every month or so, tend to stay the course with their larger approach to cuisine. But rest assured that Atera, despite its tectonic shifts, has grown into one of New York’s most rewarding bastions of fine dining. The old style of ‘trompe bouche,’ where food looked like one thing but tasted like another — has given way to a compelling, ultra-refined naturalism.” Four stars.

Le Coucou

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“Le Coucou doesn't blow you away in in the same way that experimental Brooklyn spots like Olmsted do, nor does it intend to. It's an assured, steady-handed restaurant at just three months old. It makes you look forward to more from chef Daniel Rose, who's entered the New York fray with a smart Stephen Starr blockbuster instead of an edgy independent flick. And it's the type of venue that will surely attract more to oldies like La Grenouille or more modern spots like Le Bernardin. Say what you will about 11 Howard (a $500/night Aby Rosen hotel that replaces a Holiday Inn) and what it symbolizes for the future of the city€, but Le Coucou is the beating, albeit transplanted, heart of grand old French cuisine in New York right now.” Three stars.

“Sometimes Contra's food is visually precise. Slivers of white squid with black ink puree and yuzukosho greens would fit right in at the two Michelin-starred Aquavit. A scallop cut into the shape of a candy bar is an arresting rectangular alternative to the mollusk's circular comfort zone; even better is the accompanying scallop froth and coral shavings, which impart the entire preparation with a powerful oceanic musk. And then there's a single slice of tomato, edible still life in a tart bath of leche de tigre.” Three stars.

Dirty French

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“Humble baked clams, sweetened with almonds and spiked with a smattering of Berbere spices, sport a lingering brine more characteristic of the regal sea urchin. And then there is the mille-feuille. It contains no phyllo. Chef Rich Torrisi slices royal trumpet mushrooms on a mandoline, presses the leaves of funghi into a mold, roasts them, and finishes the vegetarian terrine with bright green curry. It's as delicate and buttery as baklava — until the coconut and coriander of the verdant sauce kick everything into overdrive. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the original gangsters of global French fusion, should be jealous as it's the type of dish that wouldn't be out of place at his three-Michelin-starred flagship.” Three stars.

Momofuku Ko

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“Do I miss the higher energy, the stronger flavors, and the lower prices of the old Ko? Part of me does. But the better part of me is happy that chef Sean Gray and his team have transformed this gem of the Momofuku empire into a smarter, more nuanced, more comfortable place to eat. Just as you can’t blame your smart, funny buddy for chilling out a bit after she gets into Harvard, we shouldn't judge Ko for getting a shave, cleaning itself up, and growing up to become one of New York's best restaurants.” Four stars.

Momofuku Ko green
Momofuku Ko
Photo: Daniel Krieger

Sushi Nakazawa

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“What makes Nakazawa a satisfyingly uniform experience is that the head chef personally serves everyone at the bar — a pleasure that's less common at, say, Ushiwakamaru, where a ninth string sushi chef making spider rolls for the dining room was charged with preparing my $150 omakase a few years back. And at a recent meal at Tanoshi, which didn't cost too much less than Nakazawa, the backup chef started serving me mid-meal using a separate, somewhat mushier stash of rice. That won't happen here.” Three stars.

“So often, the burger is the most middle-of-the-road item on a menu. Here, it's among the most challenging offerings. The "Variety Burger" is a medium-rare patty made from a coarse grind of brisket, chuck, heart, and liver. It's served with sweet potato wedge fries (heresy!) and without a bun (hiss!). The lack of bread means there's nothing but a slice of melted fontina and a heap of caramelized onions to soften the organ meats' clean, ferric blow. It is, without a doubt, the biggest risk a New York chef has taken with a hamburger since Daniel Boulud stuffed one with foie gras and truffles over a decade ago, and it's easily one of the standout dishes of the year.” Three stars.

“Nick Kim hands you a slice of o-toro over rice. Pick it up, let the fat melt slowly on your tongue, and then wait for that irony oceanic tang, which hangs around on the palate for a good 30 seconds after swallowing. This is the beef of the sea. Enjoy that bite, because there’s not a lot of it here. Instead of the tuna-paloozas that are common elsewhere, Shuko often only serves about two pieces of the meaty delicacy as part of the menu, or three if you count the excellent sinew, which Kim grills over the binchotan and places in a hammock of nori. The texture is pure foie gras. Fat will dribble down your chin.” Three stars.

Bar Bolonat

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“Consider the kibbeh. The ubiquitous Levantine empanada is elevated with perfect execution and clarity of flavor. The teardrop-shaped bulgur pies, stuffed with ground hanger steak, reek of turmeric and taste of pine nuts. Even better are the breaded and fried olives, green and black orbs that shock the palate with brine until they're dipped in a pool of yogurt — but the cooling power is only fleeting, because the stinging, smoky power of harissa oil takes over seconds later. There you have it, a vegetarian answer to Buffalo wings.” Three stars.

“House made tortillas magically appear with every other course for impromptu taco making. The soft rounds hit you with a sweet, musky aroma, but they’re pliable, paper thin, and neutral on the palate, allowing any fillings to shine through strong and clear. They’re the appropriate medium for duck carnitas, slowly cooked to an earthy, almost livery funk. And just when you think you’re about to get sweet corn for dessert, Olvera brings out just the opposite, a corn mousse with a vegetal sting. Only a sugary husk meringue on top provides the sweet relief this brilliant dish needs. Call it a Mexican pavlova.” Three stars.

Cote Korean Steakhouse

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“Cote — a slickly designed restaurant split into bench-tables up front and cushier booths in the back and a standing table that bisects the space — is one of the city’s most exhilarating places to eat beef. The standard classification for a venue like Cote is a Korean barbecue spot, but taxonomically, an institution that pairs red meat with vegetable sides, starches, and copious amounts of alcohol is just as much a member of the larger steakhouse community as Keens or a Sparks.” Three stars.

The Clocktower

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“Finish off with a $18 tartin for two that really feeds four; the caramelized apple and buttery puff pastry acting as a futuristic postcard from the autumn that's yet to come. Then come the kick-ass petits fours — shortbread cookies and aromatic rose marshmallows — a more common touch at formal set menu venues. Such classicism, giant portions, and an apparent aversion to seasonality confirms that The Clocktower belongs to a small collection of restaurants, like the red sauce-inclined Carbone or the souffle-laced Cherche Midi, that find inspiration not from predicting the lean future of food but rather by tipping a hat to its indulgent past. So have a cocktail, eat some red meat, and play some pool, daddy-O.” Three stars.

Chef's Table At Brooklyn Fare

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“At Brooklyn Fare there are no two-tiered culinary experiences, no supplemental charges. Ramirez tops sweet hokkaido uni with the earthy funk of black truffle in August, or the more ethereal musk of white truffle in December. Each dish is just a bite, yet the flavors linger for minutes. Foie gras is included in the tasting as well, its livery oomph giving weight to a mind bending black truffle and king crab chawanmushi. And then white truffles appear again in a scoop of ice cream infused with the heady tuber, a single scoop that costs an extra $68 at Masa in Manhattan.” Four stars.

Gabriel Kreuther

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“Feels like pre-crash Manhattan all over again at Gabriel Kreuther, the namesake Alsatian joint by the chef who spent nearly a decade at The Modern slinging tarte flambées. The gilded Bryant Park hangout combines the demure excess of a 1980s Grey Poupon commercial with a hint of Wolf of Wall Street flair. The floors are carpeted, the throw pillows are plentiful, and the linens are more comfortable than the sheets you sleep in. It's not a foodie restaurant, it's just a restaurant. I don't say that as an insult — the Michelin star is merited — I say that as a reminder that this isn't a place where chefs double as waiters, where Lilliputian proteins hide under canopies of Belgian endive, or where postprandial dollar pizza is a requirement for filling up. Kreuther is a study in neo-classical indulgences: caviar, truffles and foie gras — lots of foie gras.” Three stars.

THE GRILL

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“Nearly a year and $30 million worth of renovations later, The Four Seasons Grill Room has transformed into an energetic and exhilarating chophouse, The Grill. Fans of aristocratic continuity take solace: You will still spend a ton of money here. But now, you will eat well. It shows off a style of meaty midcentury indulgences and warm, avuncular, let me-tell-you-another-story-about-JFK hospitality that, given the means, I’d partake of twice a week or more. A theme restaurant for the wealthy, but one that puts everyone under a spell that they belong here, on this stage, where it’s always 1950s Manhattan, rain or shine.” Four stars.

Empellón

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“There is a single rule for eating at Empellon, [chef-owner Alex] Stupak’s first Midtown restaurant: Order dessert, at least two per person, or three if you’re alone, because Stupak, the longtime pastry chef at Alinea and WD~50, is putting out some of the city’s best sweets at fair prices in a cavernous bi-level space that could double as a Dos Caminos if things don’t work out. This whimsical ethos, combined with the chef’s limitless imagination, is part of what makes Empellon feel so vital. Stupak is pursuing a grown-up’s version of that childhood wonderment: He’s making diners experience something new and surprising all over again. Empellon also serves regular tacos. They are not good tacos.” Three stars.

Tori Shin

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“Tori Shin remains the city's best and most ambitious yakitori joint. In June 2015, Atsushi relocated to West 53rd, transforming the ground floor of an apartment building into the more sedate fine dining establishment that Tori Shin always deserved to be, and giving this casual stretch of Hell's Kitchen, peppered with Korean and Japanese pubs, the high-end spot it has long needed. For such an edgy (and expensive) little restaurant, it's impressive to see every seat filled at 10 p.m. on a weeknight, a sign that chicken, long the snoozer entree on many dinner menus, is continuing to have an ‘it moment.’ The omakase experience is an excuse to sample parts of the chicken you otherwise wouldn't. So while you might be tempted to order a la carte here, you shouldn't. Whenever chicken is involved, Tori Shin gets it right.” Three stars.

Aquavit

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“Long before there was a Faviken, a Relae, or even a Noma, many refined gastronauts came to appreciate Nordic food in a very different way than we understand it today thanks to a groundbreaking restaurant called Aquavit. Twenty-seven years after it opened, Hakan Swahn's Manhattan establishment still kicks ass, with a new chef, Emma Bengtsson, who turns out to be a serious gastronomic force to be reckoned with. There are just enough jolts of culinary lightening in Bengtsson's cooking to warrant the attention of anyone who cares about fine dining in New York.” Three stars.

“Aska, in Williamsburg, won't be outdone in the race to be the most Nordic of them all. The restaurant unmistakably belongs to the larger Nordic movement, but it's also an auteur-esque outlier that shatters some of the stodgy norms of fine dining. Just as one doesn't typically encounter serious chiles at serious sushi spots — so as not to upset the palate, I suppose —€” I can't think of a single other restaurant of Aska's caliber that relishes in such concentrated flavors of funk, fermentation, oceanic offal, and death. The bi-level space, a restored 1860s warehouse and garden, gives the 37-year-old Berselius a chance to prove to New York that he deserves to be taken as seriously as the city's best chefs.” Four stars.

Roberta's Pizza

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“Roberta's has transformed itself from a very good Italian-American joint and pizza parlor into one of New York's most quintessential kitchens. Virtually every dish is under $20 — in an era when the prices at stripped-down, budget-gourmet restaurants sometimes approach those at gussied up fine-dining joints, Roberta's deserves credit for keeping things reasonable. Waits can stretch well past two hours on the weekend, though lucky diners might be able to shave an hour or more off that queue by jonesing for seats at the bar. Pastas, steaks, salads, vegetables, sandwiches, pizzas, and pastries: Roberta's, like a 24-hour New York diner, tries to be the affordable jack of all trades. And it succeeds. So finish off with a shot of Montenegro amaro and make room for the next guy. He's been waiting a while.” Three stars.

Olmsted

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“Olmsted is the neighborhood restaurant we’ve all been dreaming of. The garden, the wine, the great-tasting intellectualism — it's the type of outdoor epicurean bliss you might expect to encounter at one of the country's most expensive culinary establishments. And yet at Olmsted, a modest storefront restaurant in Brooklyn's well-heeled Prospect Heights, most dishes are under $20. Credit due to Greg Baxtrom, a chef who's spent time working at venues where $800 meals for two are not uncommon — Stone Barns, Atera, Alinea, Per Se — for giving New York one of its most paradoxically ambitious yet most approachable restaurants. After just three months in business, Olmsted easily joins the ranks of Estela and Wildair as one of the city's best and most creative small-plates places.” Three stars.

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Atera

“Change is risky. Even the most ambitious culinary establishments, the ones that overhaul half their menu every month or so, tend to stay the course with their larger approach to cuisine. But rest assured that Atera, despite its tectonic shifts, has grown into one of New York’s most rewarding bastions of fine dining. The old style of ‘trompe bouche,’ where food looked like one thing but tasted like another — has given way to a compelling, ultra-refined naturalism.” Four stars.

Le Coucou

“Le Coucou doesn't blow you away in in the same way that experimental Brooklyn spots like Olmsted do, nor does it intend to. It's an assured, steady-handed restaurant at just three months old. It makes you look forward to more from chef Daniel Rose, who's entered the New York fray with a smart Stephen Starr blockbuster instead of an edgy independent flick. And it's the type of venue that will surely attract more to oldies like La Grenouille or more modern spots like Le Bernardin. Say what you will about 11 Howard (a $500/night Aby Rosen hotel that replaces a Holiday Inn) and what it symbolizes for the future of the city€, but Le Coucou is the beating, albeit transplanted, heart of grand old French cuisine in New York right now.” Three stars.

Contra

“Sometimes Contra's food is visually precise. Slivers of white squid with black ink puree and yuzukosho greens would fit right in at the two Michelin-starred Aquavit. A scallop cut into the shape of a candy bar is an arresting rectangular alternative to the mollusk's circular comfort zone; even better is the accompanying scallop froth and coral shavings, which impart the entire preparation with a powerful oceanic musk. And then there's a single slice of tomato, edible still life in a tart bath of leche de tigre.” Three stars.

Dirty French

“Humble baked clams, sweetened with almonds and spiked with a smattering of Berbere spices, sport a lingering brine more characteristic of the regal sea urchin. And then there is the mille-feuille. It contains no phyllo. Chef Rich Torrisi slices royal trumpet mushrooms on a mandoline, presses the leaves of funghi into a mold, roasts them, and finishes the vegetarian terrine with bright green curry. It's as delicate and buttery as baklava — until the coconut and coriander of the verdant sauce kick everything into overdrive. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the original gangsters of global French fusion, should be jealous as it's the type of dish that wouldn't be out of place at his three-Michelin-starred flagship.” Three stars.

Momofuku Ko

Momofuku Ko green
Momofuku Ko
Photo: Daniel Krieger

“Do I miss the higher energy, the stronger flavors, and the lower prices of the old Ko? Part of me does. But the better part of me is happy that chef Sean Gray and his team have transformed this gem of the Momofuku empire into a smarter, more nuanced, more comfortable place to eat. Just as you can’t blame your smart, funny buddy for chilling out a bit after she gets into Harvard, we shouldn't judge Ko for getting a shave, cleaning itself up, and growing up to become one of New York's best restaurants.” Four stars.

Momofuku Ko green
Momofuku Ko
Photo: Daniel Krieger

Sushi Nakazawa

“What makes Nakazawa a satisfyingly uniform experience is that the head chef personally serves everyone at the bar — a pleasure that's less common at, say, Ushiwakamaru, where a ninth string sushi chef making spider rolls for the dining room was charged with preparing my $150 omakase a few years back. And at a recent meal at Tanoshi, which didn't cost too much less than Nakazawa, the backup chef started serving me mid-meal using a separate, somewhat mushier stash of rice. That won't happen here.” Three stars.

Hearth

“So often, the burger is the most middle-of-the-road item on a menu. Here, it's among the most challenging offerings. The "Variety Burger" is a medium-rare patty made from a coarse grind of brisket, chuck, heart, and liver. It's served with sweet potato wedge fries (heresy!) and without a bun (hiss!). The lack of bread means there's nothing but a slice of melted fontina and a heap of caramelized onions to soften the organ meats' clean, ferric blow. It is, without a doubt, the biggest risk a New York chef has taken with a hamburger since Daniel Boulud stuffed one with foie gras and truffles over a decade ago, and it's easily one of the standout dishes of the year.” Three stars.