For anyone looking for some great dining options in NYC, here is an extensive list covering the entire city and budget. David Aragona, a really good friend of Judy Chapman and the whole Garden State Woman mission thrives on finding great spots for dining out both in NJ and NY. We asked David recently for some of his favorites in the city.
Becco - 46th Street (Between 8th & 9th Avenues)
Good choice in the Theater District. I recommend the "Sinfonia Di Paste" - you get 3 pastas that the chef has prepared for the day served hot from the pan. It's $23 and you can have as much as you want. They also have an excellent wine list where all wines are $25.
Café Boulud – 76th Street (between 5th and Madison)
Wonderful French food, great service and nice wine list. One of the top dinners I've had in NYC and much less expensive than it's sister restaurant Daniel. We had the Chef's tasting menu here and it was fantastic. Every course was amazing – complicated preparations, complex flavors – truly haute cuisine. Special night out.
Daniel – 65th Street (between Madison & Park Aves)
One of the top restaurants in NYC and an ethereal dining experience. French haute cuisine at its best – complex dishes that are, perfectly presented. Flawless (but not stuffy) service, awesome wine list, beautiful setting. With Del Posto, my top dining experience ever. Very, very expensive.
Del Posto – 85 Tenth Ave. (between 15th & 16th Streets)
Probably the top Italian restaurant in NYC and along with Daniel, the best dining experience I've had, ever. We had the 7 course tasting menu with different wines matched to each course – incredible. Every course exceeded expectations and added up to the ultimate dining experience. Very, very expensive..
Esca – 43d Street (between 9th and 10th Aves)
Our favorite place for fish in NYC. The menu changes daily depending on what is fresh and the flavors are awesome. In warm weather they have an outdoor seating area that is very pleasant – we like to have lunch here. For a real treat, have dinner at the small bar and be served by Victor. He's a great host, knowledgeable and will guide you through the menu. One of our favorite places to dine in the city.
Felidia - 58th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)
Have dined here several times. Fine Italian food, nice setting, excellent service and terrific wine list. Loved the Chef's tasting menu here, where you put yourself in the hands of the chef. I was wowed by each dish that arrived at the table: an incredibly good bean salad, delicious grilled octopus with robiolla, melt-in-your-mouth pear ravioli in a delicate sauce, pasta with cuttlefish and perfectly cooked quail.
Gigino at Wagner Park - Battery Park (off Battery Place)
One of our favorite warm weather dining spots in NYC. Outdoor seating looking out at New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. We usually make reservations here for about an hour before sunset so we can watch sunset over the harbor as we dine. Solid Italian food and thoughtful wine list. Before and/or after dinner you can walk along the Battery Park promenade, taking advantage of the cool breezes off the Hudson and taking in the views.
Isabella's - Columbus Ave and 77th Street.
Pleasant dining room and nice sidewalk seating on Columbus Avenue. We go here often because it's right across the street from the Museum of Natural History. Food is consistently good. The sunset menu is one of the great values in NYC.
La Boite en Bois - 68th Street near Columbus Ave
We go here often - very good French food at reasonable prices. Extremely consistent. Both the $26.50 3-course lunch menu and the $40 fixed-price pre-theater menu are great values. Love when they have the wild mushroom ravioli as a special and also great sausage with lentils, steak au poivre, coq au vin, etc. Short, fairly priced and well thought-out wine list. Close to Lincoln Center.
Lupa - Thompson Street, Just north of Houston
Like eating in a Roman trattoria. Great place for sharing small plates as appetizers, excellent pastas, meat and fish and excellent wines by the glass. One of our favorite places to dine in the city - fun to sit at the bar and dine. I love the skate here when its on the menu - it's a mild fish that is perfectly seasoned.
The Little Owl - Corner of Grove and Bedford
A small restaurant with big windows looking out on a picturesque street in the West Village. This can be tough to get into, since there are only about 10 tables in the place. "The Pork Chop" and their "Meatball Sliders" are a couple of their signature dishes. The pork chop might not sound exciting, but what they do with it is incredible. One of my top picks.
Otto - 8th Street near 5th Avenue
Great place for sharing small plates, great pizza and pastas as well as excellent wines by the glass. The gelato here is absolutely outstanding. Noisy and fun - always love it here.
La Pizza Fresca – 20th Street (between 5th and Park Aves.)
Great pizza and extensive wine list in the Flatiron district. One of my favorite places for pizza in NYC – love when they have pizza topped with asparagus, robiolla cheese and truffle oil.
Poe - Cornelia Street near Bleecker Street
Small restuarant in the Village that is an outstanding value. The White Bean Ravioli with balsamic brown butter sauce at $15 is a signature dish that is hard to beat for the price.
Wine Bar – 2nd Ave (between 3rd & 4th Street)
Love this place – terrific wine list, excellent selections by the glass and wonderful tapas, flatbreads and cheese plates. Nice to get a seat on the sidewalk and while away a few hours with a bottle of good wine and the food to complement it. If you had a big lunch and are looking for a place to go to enjoy a glass of wine and share a cheese plate, tapas or one of their flatbreads as a light dinner, this is a great place.
Favorite Inexpensive Options:
These are places that you can get great fast food (pizza, burgers, sandwiches, etc.), breakfast, lunch or a light snack.
Almondine - 85 Water Street, Brooklyn
Netta and I actually have gotten up early in the morning and driven to Manhattan, caught the A train to Brooklyn to get breakfast at Almondine. We love their croissants, and supposedly it's hard to find croissants like this outside of France. We buy croissants and coffee and then walk around the corner to Brooklyn Bridge Park, find a table or bench and have breakfast while taking in the view of the bridge, Manhattan and the boats on the East River.
Eataly – 23rd Street near 5th Ave.
A Salt and Battery - 112 Greenwich Ave (between 12th & 13th streets)
Fresh, perfectly cooked fish and chips in this tiny storefront. If you like fish and chips, you have to go to this place. And also visit Tea & Sympathy next door. There are a few metal stools inside and a bench outside to sit on in nice weather.
Bark Hotdogs - 474 Bergen Street (near Flatbush Ave), Brooklyn
New York Magazine picked this as the best hotdog in the city, so my friend Jim and I went to check it out. The place delivered - very good fries also. They tell you where everything they make comes from and they focus on organic and green producers. Not sure it's worth the subway ride to Brooklyn, but if you went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, it's not far from there.
Bouchon Bakery - Columbus Circle, in the Time Warner Building
Excellent choice for lunch near Central Park. Located on the third level of the mall at the Time Warner Center, overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park South. Excellent sandwiches (we usually split a sandwich) and soups plus great pastries for dessert. They have a counter where you can get sandwiches, pastries, drinks to go and have lunch in Central Park. Their roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese combo is a great lunch and at $12.95 not a bad lunch in NYC.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory - 2 Cadman Plaza West, Brooklyn
Great ice cream and I especially love their hot fudge topping (made at the very expensive River Cafe next door). Located on a pier on the Brooklyn waterfront, looking out towards lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge - beautiful spot. On weekdays I usually walk right in or there is a shot line. On weekends the line can extend down the pier. This is a great destination if you decide to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (great views and nice breeze off the river).
Central Park Boat House Express Cafe
When we stay in the city we always stay in a hotel up by Central Park. In the morning we walk to the Central Park Boathouse Express Cafe for a light (and inexpensive) breakfast of coffee/tea and croissants/scones. In the cool weather they have a fireplace lit and in the warm weather there is plenty of outdoor seating.
Daddy O’s – 44 Bedford Street, Greenwich Village
My favorite bar in the city serving incredible burgers. Relatively quiet place with a terrific selection of spirits for a bar this size. My “go to” place when I’m in the Village and want to stop for a cocktail or a reasonably-priced dinner..
Financier - World Financial Center, Battery Park City
Financier is a great place for lunch if you are in the area of the World Trade Center. There is a beautiful promenade that leads from the World Financial Center Marina to Battery Park, offering great views of the Hudson River, New York Harbor, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We take this walk often and sometimes have lunch at Financier, You can buy a sandwich and a drink to go and either take them to a table near the palm trees in the Winter Garden (if it's hot and humid, the Winter Garden can be a nice respite from the weather) or choose an outdoor table overlooking the marina. Cheap lunch, especially if you split a sandwich.
Grimaldi's - 19 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn
One of NY's top pizzas in a scenic neighborhood. Gets very crowded and a line forms down the street at peak hours. I usually go early on a weekday and get on line about 15/20 minutes before they open (they open at 11:30) or I go late afternoon after the lunch crush.
Harney and Sons - 433 Broome Street (east of Broadway in Soho)
Great place for a light lunch and a pot of tea. They have a tea tasting bar where you can sample their teas - they carry over 200 kinds of tea. We liked the savory scones, gravlax and vanilla scones with clotted cream.
Joe's Shanghai - 9 Pell Street (between Mott and Mulberry) - Chinatown
We go here for the steamed soup dumplings, which are very tasty, especially when accompanied by a cold beer. If you haven't had soup dumplings, you can order either pork or pork and crab and the soup is actually inside the dumpling. You have to approach eating them the right way (instructions on their website) or else you stand a good chance of wearing the soup on our shirt.
Keste Pizza - 271 Bleecker Street (Between 6th and 7th Avenues)
My current favorite pizza place in New York. This is truly authentic Neopolitan pizza - the crust and toppings are all first rate. The owner had his oven specially designed and he is meticulous about ingredients. There can be lines out the door at dinner time. I usually go here for lunch (around noon) or early dinner (later afternoon) and walk right in.
The Meatball Shop – 84 Stanton St (betweenAllen & Orchard Streets)
Something I never order when I’m out is a meatball sandwich, but this place was great. I opted for the meatball sliders, which were on a great little bun and packed with flavor. They have different kinds and I ordered the spicy pork meatball and a special. They also make a meatball smash, which is two meatballs mashed down and served on a toasted brioche bun. I heard this place can be mobbed but we went on a weekday afternoon and walked right in.
Obika - 590 Madison Ave (At 56th Street) in the Atrium of the IBM Building
Netta and I love this place for lunch. It's a 'mozzarella bar', inspired by the sushi bar concept. They don't only serve mozzarella though, they have delicious soups, plates of roasted vegetables, excellent Italian meats like aged prosciutto, speck, etc,, sandwiches and salads. The mozzarella is the best I've had, from specific areas of Italy and each with its own special characteristics. No liquor license here, but they make great ice tea. We go here for lunch - it's located in an atrium on Madison Avenue - and we usually arrive between 11:30 and noon and never have a problem getting seated.
Porchetta - 110 East 7th Street (between 1st Ave and Ave. A)
A small storefront in the East Village with a few stools inside and a couple of benches outside. They make a killer sandwich with delicious roasted pork (porchetta) on a crunchy ciabatta roll that is, for me at least, the best in New York. Get an order of the potatoes with burnt ends to split.
Shake Shack - Columbus Ave and 77th Street
Excellent burgers and Chicago-style hotdogs. The original Shake Shack is in Madison Square Park (23rd St & Madison Ave.) and they opened this one a couple of years ago. Can get very busy and there is limited seating. There are often long lines at the one in Madison Square Park.