New York City’s white-tablecloth affairs, grumpy old-school Italian diners, food trucks, and neighborhood joints combine for a veritable foodie mecca. The culinary diversity alone is worth a pause, but the new joints that pop up every few months are what really keep the dining scene fresh. From locavore meats to fresh Asian-American fusion, we’ve rounded up our favorite newbie New York City restaurants that’ve opened in the last six months.
Back Forty West
Location, location, location. When restaurateur Peter Hoffman shut down Savoy, a beloved downtown eatery for more than 20 years, he kept the lease on the coveted Prince Street intersection and reinvented it. Since March, the SoHo space is home to his second outpost of Back Forty, a popular upscale tavern first launched in the East Village. The vibe is more casual, with both lunch and dinner options—perfect to sate the SoHo shopping crowds—and the food is hearty and Southern-inspired.
Must-Try: The grilled kale and escarole salad comes with a savory Parmesan dressing and topped with white anchovies. And you can’t go wrong with chef Shanna Pacifico’s tender slow-smoked pork ribs; they come with a side of slaw, too.
Jack’s Wife Freda
There’s no need for a holiday gathering to try out authentic Jewish home cooking. The Lafayette Street restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda, owned by husband-and-wife team Dean and Maya Jankelowitz, offers a communal table for family-style eating. There are some Jewish classics such as matzo ball soup on the menu, but there’s also updated international fare, like the grilled Halloumi cheese or moist Portuguese grilled skirt steak sandwich dabbed with garlic butter.
Must-Try: Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the café is quickly earning a neighborhood following. Stop by in the morning for the green Shakshuka (baked eggs with spinach served with challah toast) or rosewater waffles topped with Lebanese yogurt (similar to Greek yogurt with its thick consistency). At night, the matzo ball soup is excellent, as is the simply executed whole grilled fish.
Philadelphia-based restaurateur Stephen Starr tends to subscribe to the mindset that bigger is better. In New York City, he’s made an imprint with dramatically designed eateries like Morimoto and Buddakan. But for his latest venture in Manhattan, Starr charted new territory by going uptown, on a lower design scale. His new Caffe Storico, located in the New York Historical Society Museum, has just 74 seats and a more understated feel with chandeliers, wood floors, and cozy lemon-yellow banquettes.
Must-Try: The menu is based off cicchetti (Italian-style tapas) and features handmade pastas. The pillowy black-truffle gnocchi is great for a late afternoon snack. For more hearty fare, try the whipped baccalà (salt cod) appetizer and the hand-rolled garganelli, similar to penne, but more delicious, accented with cauliflower and pine nuts. The veal osso buco is also enticing.
North End Grill
Chef Floyd Cardoz may have gained national fame for his appearance on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters in season three, but in NYC, the Bombay native has long had a following. He pioneered a fresh take on fine Indian cooking at Tabla (shuttered in 2010), where he was partner and executive chef. These days, he’s busy at North End Grill, where he’s signed on with Danny Meyer to bring modern American fare to the no-man’s-land dining scene in Battery Park City.
Must-Try: The dinner menu has plenty of options, including a dedicated eggs section featuring a slow-poached egg served with paddlefish caviar, and coddled egg with peekytoe crab and grits. For more substantial fare, try the lamb loin, which contrasts nicely with minted chickpeas. There’s also a solid selection of oysters, scallops, and sashimi for raw bar enthusiasts.
With so many sights to see, most visitors to Manhattan never make it off the isle. But if you do have a chance to cross a bridge or two, it can be well worth the culinary experience. Many of the city’s most exciting restaurants are located in boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn. In the latter, another Top Chef alum, Dale Talde, is making waves with Talde, located in the stroller-friendly Park Slope neighborhood. Expect a downright inspired Asian-American menu.
Must-Try: Start with the pretzel pork-and-chive dumplings, with Chinese hot mustard for dipping. Then move into the crispy oyster-and-bacon pad thai, or the delectable short ribs kare-kare, with a hint of coconut.