There are something like 24,000 restaurants in the NYC area (not even including the street meats), so yeah… you’ve got a few options when you’re looking to eat out in the Big Apple. In an attempt to portion out that massive pie of potential places into more bite-sized pieces, we went all around the city to ask a handful of well-informed New Yorkers who know a thing or two about where to score the pièce de résistance.
I would honestly have to say that I have two favorite places in NYC. It would be very hard for me to decide between the two, so I will have to write about both. First, my favorite all-time go-to place would have to be Frank Restaurant in the East Village. The food is delicious, classic southern Italian fare, where the vibe is “urban cozy.” Yes, that is a term I just coined. I am biased about Frank, as I worked there for many years, but the place speaks for itself. It has been around for 20 years, is still packed every night, the menu hasn’t changed and most people who like good food in NYC LOVE Frank. The dishes of note, The Rigatoni Ragu is the star of the menu. This dish truly hits the spot in so many ways. It’s a big bowl of saucey rigatoni pasta with meatballs and sausage and loads of grated parmesan—truly warms the heart and soul, it’s a mental, physical and spiritual experience. Could be the best red sauce I’ve ever had, honestly. This dish inspired me to create the Meatball Shop, so obviously I have a special place in my heart for it. The other dish of note, The Tagliata Toscana, a simply seared, marinated skirt steak with arugula and shaved parmesan, finished with aged balsamico. Another banger, incredibly tender skirt steak, and wild arugula. Super simple, but oh so damn good. All the food is money here, but these two dishes have stood out for years for so many folks. Frank also has one of the most impressive Italian wine lists in the city, unique options, great deals and a wide variety. When I worked there, we had over 400 different bottles of wine to choose from.
My other spot is equally delicious, just a tad more upscale, Blue Ribbon Brasserie. This place is in the West Village and was the only great restaurant open late for the folks that worked in the industry as I was coming up. After work, we would all pour into Blue Ribbon, eat oysters, drink wine, and hang till the wee hours of the morning! The food is amazing, the service is exceptional! I took my wife on our first date here, fed her oysters and bone marrow for the first time, I may owe my marriage to Blue ribbon… for real. The dishes that stand out for me here are the bone marrow and oxtail marmalade served with crostini. This dish is everything you could imagine if you are looking to indulge, sweet and salty heaven. The other dish I love is their fried chicken—crispy, juicy and straight-up delish.
Lonn A. Trost
COO & General Counsel of the New York Yankees
There is only one answer: Fresco by Scotto. It’s the place to be with the people you want to see, as opposed to a place to be seen. The service is incomparable, especially from Anthony and Marion Scotto; however, everyone there provides great, great service. Don’t bother with the dinner menu. Start with the grilled pizza Margherita and potato and zucchini chips. Follow that with their pappardelle with duck and wild mushroom ragu, or cavatelli with crumbled fennel sausage and broccoli rabe—or both. Don’t skip the wine, as long as it follows a Grey Goose martini without vermouth. Let Anthony pick your dessert. I’m not kidding. Enjoy.
Meteorologist at Today New York
My go-to place is one where I get treated like family—Loi’s. It’s a small Greek restaurant on 58th street between 6th and 7th. They serve the tastiest branzino I’ve ever had. It’s the greatest!
Creator of @BeigecCardigan
Who doesn’t love good pizza right? My go-to would be a square slice from Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. It’s the most comforting thing you can eat. Make sure you get an edge so you can get a good grip on it.
My favorite restaurant in NYC has got to be Eataly because the food is so authentic, and despite potentially getting fat as hell from the carbs, I’m pretty sure I could eat it every day and never get sick of it.
I highly recommend the personal Margherita pizza. It just might be the best in NYC, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I can take two of them down in one sitting. Don’t judge me. The sauce and cheese they use are very fresh with a lot of flavor and the bread is so soft that you don’t even feel like there’s a crust. The pizza melts in your mouth!
Partner at WeWork
It’s no secret to those that know me well, I consider myself the leading expert in all things frozen yogurt. Although I have the good fortune to dine weekly at some of New York’s most amazing new restaurants both “hot” and new and classic (big shout out to ABCV and the avocado tacos, which were a serious runner-up).
So… my favorite NYC spot is the counter at Forty Carrots in Bloomingdale’s on 59th street. I like to go with my daughters and sit at the counter (my mom used to take me to the counter in White Plains for the very same treat). Sometimes we muscle through a salad or a sandwich first, but truthfully, the plain-flavored frozen yogurt is usually the main course. It is both tart and sweet. The small is ENORMOUS (but we never share) and we order tons of toppings (they all come on the side, of course, so you can add where you see fit). I always get carob chips, chocolate sprinkles and, OF COURSE, the most important part of the entire order is the raspberry Melba sauce that goes on top. I usually order two sides of Melba for fear I will run out ( I actually have a girlfriend that begged them to sell her a bottle of the Melba and she wrapped it for my birthday one year).
Decades after my first Forty Carrots yogurt, I still consider it my favorite meal. It is always a treat.
Creator of ByTezza
My fave restaurant is a no-frills sushi restaurant called Momoya. I’m not kidding when I say we are there three times a week! Everything is so fresh and delicious and we have nailed our order. We get the same thing every time, and it’s always amazing.
The tuna tortilla is required! It’s one of my favorite dishes on planet earth. A thin, crispy tortilla layered with wasabi/truffle mayo and delicate slices of tuna. Just thinking about it makes me crave it! The flavors are so intense, I’ve never had anything like it.
It’s so unique. I’ve been to so many sushi restaurants and have never seen anything close to it on the menu anywhere else. The flavors are also out of this world, it’s such a good combo and the crispy tortilla adds a nice crunch.
My spot is Le Zie Trattoria on 7th and 20th. Any of the special pastas that day. There are usually three. They have like four rooms and a hopping bar. Been a fave for DECADES!
CEO of Shake Shack
Of course you know, it’s Shake Shack… I mean… always get a SmokeShack; Chicken Shack, Bacon Cheese Fries, and Black and White Shake (and yes, I bring a friend to share). Here’s the deal—you shouldn’t eat a burger every day, but when you do, make it a great one! Life is about enjoying everything in balance.
Another favorite has to be date night at the Bar at Union Square Café with my wife. For 15 years, we’ve shared the Bibb Lettuce Gruyere Salad, and whatever the next great pasta Chef Carmen is cooking up seasonally. Add a couple glasses of wine, and you just don’t get more comfortable, more New York, and more date night than that!
Executive Chef of Takahachi
I love sandwiches. My go-to place for homemade Italian sandwich is Regina’s Grocery in Lower East Side. All recipes are created by Chef and owner Regina. I highly recommend the “Roman Sandwich“ because smoked chicken and homemade mozzarella go really well, balancing with balsamic broccoli rabe, and it’s a very refreshing taste.
Co-Founder of Un-ruly.com
I love, love, love Asian cuisine! NYC has so many great spots to choose from, but I’d have to go with Red Farm in the West Village (or Upper East Side) as being my all-time favorite! Their crispy skin smoked chicken with garlic is the closest thing to Nirvana I’ve ever experienced—and who doesn’t want a taste of that?
Pitmaster and Owner/Partner of Hometown Bar-B-Que
Katz Deli—start with a Knish then Pastrami on Rye with mustard and French fries. Katz Deli is like walking into the past. A simpler time. Always packed, grab a ticket from the doorman when you walk in and then head for one of the carving lanes. Tip the carver, and he’ll give you a sample of whatever he’s cutting for you. Then order away.
Peter Luger Steak House—Porterhouse/Creamed Spinach/Hashbrowns and finish with strudel with schlag (whipped cream). Walking into Peter Luger’s is a right of passage. [Been] going there since I was a teenager, and it’s still as special as the first time. Start with a dark beer while you wait for your table, then order tomato and onions (add Luger’s steak sauce), shrimp cocktail and slab bacon, then porterhouse, etc.