Pity the visitor to New York. So many memorable restaurants, such a wide array of shopping, how can one decide? One way is to consult the pros.
Where do you go if you’re a top chef looking for a fabulous meal away from your own oven? We asked some notable chefs just that:
Chef Sylvain Delpique of the 21 Club (21 W. 52nd St., 212.582.7200) loves to relax at Daniel (60 E. 65th St., 212.288.0033), one of the stars in the Daniel Boulud constellation. “For a more refined cuisine, I like Daniel. I like game very much and he always has a different choice and can cook different types. I like that. I respect him a lot, he’s not pretentious.
“Another place I really like is Noodletown (Great NY Noodletown, 28 Bowery, 212.349.0923) in Chinatown,” he said. “A lot of chefs go there because it stays open late. Everything is fresh and made on the spot.”
Tavern on the Green, in Central Park on the Upper West Side at 67th Street (212.877.8684) has reopened after being shuttered in 2009. Famed for its hearty fare, festive décor and a terraced topiary, the restaurant has pleased locals and visitors alike.
Now decorated in a contemporary tone, Tavern has made culinary changes as well, said Chef Katy Sparks. “The landmark restaurant has a new menu and our biggest goal is to make delicious food being mindful of our sourcing. We care about the environment and our food is antibiotic and hormone-free,” she explained. “We use no endangered fish and our re-design is an homage to the original architects. And we’re topiary free,” she laughed. Okay, so when she’s not crafting a mindful, delicious menu, where does she like to dine? Mostly near where she lives, in Brooklyn. “I really like this Korean restaurant—Moim (206 Garfield Pl., Park Slope, 718.499.8092)—it has a woman chef and she makes a delicious Korean rice ball kind of concoction cooked in a super-heated granite bowl,” said Chef Sparks. “I also go to Franny’s (348 Flatbush Ave., Park Slope, 718.230.0221) a lot—it has great pizza. It’s really delicious, whatever you order. Frank DeCarlo has this beautiful wood-fired oven in a restaurant in NoLIta, called Peasant (194 Elizabeth St., 212.965.9511). I love the whole experience of going there—the lighting, design, food. It’s especially great in the winter,” she added. “Of course he has great pizzas as well.”
“But sometimes, to be honest, all I really want is a bowl of ice cream—always chocolate, “ she laughed. “And another thing I really like is scrambled eggs and toast. To me, breakfast can be any time of the day.”
Juni, in the Flatiron district (12 E. 31st St., 212.995.8599) shares space with the Hotel Chandler. The culinary focus is on natural flavors and organic ingredients. So where does Chef Shaun Hergatt eat when he’s not creating in the kitchen? “I love sushi and there’s a wonderful place called Hasaki (210 E. 9th St., 212.473.3327) that’s great,” he said. For the best Indian food in the city, he says, he heads to Bukhara Grill (217 E. 49th St., 212.888.2839). “Terrific tandoori, lamb chop and garlic nan.”
Christian Schnienle, owner of an Upper East Side’s French restaurant, Sel et Poivre, (853 Lexington Ave., 212.517.5780) recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. One of his favorite upscale restaurants is Marea (240 Central Park South, 212.582.5100). “Marea is one of the nicest restaurants you can go to,” he said. “They have different kinds of wild game (in the winter), pastas, seafood—everything’s just delicious. Sometimes I’ll tell my waiter to just surprise me. In the business, you like to be surprised,” he laughed.
“A wonderful Mexican restaurant is Maya—everything is delicious, doesn’t matter what you order.” Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria (1191 First Ave., 212.585.1818) focuses on small plates and fresh ingredients.”
Jared Gadbaw, executive chef of Marea, famed for its Italian seafood dishes often returns to the same restaurants.
“I tend to be more of a creature of habit in my eating choices,” he revealed. “So, when I find a good place, I go back as often as possible. I also happen to live downtown in the NoLIta area so more of my choices are down there."
“My favorite new restaurants would be Uncle Boons (7 Spring St., 646.370.6650) and Estela (47 E. Houston St., 212.219.7693). I can honestly say that I have never had a bad dish at either. As far as ‘Old Faithful’ restaurants that I’ve been frequenting over my 11 years in New York, are Great NY Noodletown and Ushiwakamaru (136 W. Houston St., 212.228.4181). They are opposite ends of the spectrum—Noodletown is an old-school Cantonese restaurant with amazing food if you know what to order (salt-baked squid, salt fish, chicken fried rice, he recommended). Ushiwakamaru is a small sushi place. If you can get a reservation in front of the head chef, do so and try and out-drink him!”
Lala Sharma of Savoury (489 Columbus Ave. 212.875.1400), which features North Indian cuisine on the Upper West Side, favors the downtown Tamarind (99 Hudson St., 212.775.9000). “I like their butter chicken, which is quite similar to the way we make it,” he said. “The spices, tomatoes, thick sauce—are all very good.
“I like the burritos at Cilantro (485 Columbus, 212.712.9090) which is next door. Their margaritas are also very good,” he said.
Hell’s Kitchen Tavola (488 Ninth Ave.) features a wood-fired oven and a range of Italian dishes and pizza, said restaurateur and Chef Nicola Accardi. “Many people think chefs eat at only upscale restaurants,” he said. “Not so. My favorite Indian place is Haandi (113 Lexington Ave., 212.685.5200) in an area known as Curry Hill. The food is phenomenal. Master of spices. I love the ginger chicken and nan with sesame. They use a clay oven and have the best biryani. The spicy spinach is delicious.”
Chef Jason Kallert, corporate chef for LDV Hospitality, likes Buvette (42 Grove St., 212.255.3590) in the West Village when he’s not focused on the Paramount Bar & Grill (235 W. 46th St., 212.764.5500). “It’s a tiny, tiny little place, perfect. I like to get a nice glass of rosé and some country pâté,” he said. “It has about 15 seats, like a glorified espresso bar, simple café food like chicken liver on toast. They hit all the perfect notes there.” His go-to Chinese destination is Xi’an Famous Foods in Flushing (with other locations including 67 Bayard St. in Chinatown). “They have hand-pulled noodles and they cook them quick, using rice dough. Some turn out thick or thin and they do a delicious spicy lamb sauté.”
And for pizza? “I like this cool wood-burning stove restaurant—Motorino Pizza (349 E. 12th St., 212.777.2644 and other locations). Perfect pieces, maybe a minute in the oven. I like the smoked bacon and Brussels sprout (toppings). The dough’s great, hands-down. It’s killer.”
Chef Ed Cotton of Sotto 13 (140 W. 13th St., 212.647.1001) is another fan of Chinatown’s Great NY Noodletown. “Usually we get the shrimp noodle and dumpling soup and always get a really nice side of sautéed spinach—I think it has ginger garlic and scallions. The beef chow fun is fantastic.
“I love Quality Meats (57 W. 58th St., 212.371.7777). It’s quality Italian, and I like to get a great hangar steak with cherry sauce. Their seafood is amazing as well. The seafood tower is wonderful.”
Now that you know where some chefs eat, where do savvy retailers love to shop?
General Manager Michael Strouse of Soho’s Scholastic Store (557 Broadway, 212.343.6166) focuses on kids when he shops. His favorite bookstore is McNally Jackson Books (in NoLIta, 52 Prince St., 212.274.1160), which is an independent store with a café. “It’s an authentic book store experience,” he said comparing it with larger chain and online stores. “I also love the store Giggle (120 Wooster St. #3, 212.334.5817 and other locations) for young kids.” Giggle carries baby furniture, clothes, toys and gifts, he said. “They have a lovely way of bringing things together for the kids’ collection. Fantastic younger kids’ clothing and unique stuff that’s hard to find anywhere.
“MoMA’s Design and Book Store (11 W. 53rd St. 212.708.9700) is a store everyone should visit, he says. It’s one of my staples,” he added, mentioning a still-beloved mobile he bought years ago for his daughter. “They have a whole kids’ section.”
Sachie Ito, manager of Issey Miyake stores which features designer women’s and menswear (119 Hudson St., 212.226.0100) with locations in TriBeCa and SoHo, likes to shop for her husband at Bloomingdales (59th & Lexington Ave., 212.705.2090) because he’s not a fan of shopping for himself, she said. “I like to take him to Bloomie’s and show him different things—‘This is a European designer’ I’ll tell him,” she laughed. She also enjoys buying household items. “I shop a lot for glassware, cups and spoons, little kitchen stuff. For shoes I usually end up at Camper in SoHo (125 Prince St., 212.375.9786 and other locations)." It stays open late.
“I also like Paper Presentation (23 W. 18th St., 212.463.7035). They carry a lot of different kinds of stationery and it’s fun to browse,” she said. “I bought a stapler shaped like a dog-- they have things I don’t really need but want to have.”
Sue Phillips, owner of the perfumery Scentsorium (85 Franklin St., 917.449.1134) likes to hunt for new sensory elements for inspiration. She creates individualized scents for customers. “I like to go to places where there are beautiful colors and lovely wafting fragrances.” Design Within Reach (957 Third Ave. at East 57th, 212.888.4539 and other locations) is one of her favorites. “They have a wall of the most amazing colors. It’s a beautiful display. The whole store is beautiful. They customize colors and have these delightful multi-color blocks to re-arrange.”
Susan Nethero, founder and owner of the designer lingerie and bra-fitting shop Intimacy (1252 Madison Ave., 212.860.8366 and other sites) loves unique department stores. “Most of what I enjoy is on Madison,” she said. “From Barney’s (660 Madison Ave., 212.826.8900) and others on up, the windows are always beautiful. I love Jimmy Choo (716 Madison Ave., 212.759.7078) and Christian Louboutin (965 Madison Ave., 212.396.1884) and had a great day boot shopping. I ended up getting boots at Barney’s,” she said.
For eclectic shopping, she loves The Market, (159 Bleecker St.) in the village, which profiles emerging designers in a festive atmosphere. “They have jewelry, eyeglasses, accessories, handbags, and it has a vintage feel,” she said. “Always fun.”
Saks (611 Fifth Ave., 212.753.4000) is another favorite. “I like to go to Saks for tops—they have fun, woven, colorful shirts,” which she pairs with classic white jeans and jackets. “It’s better to have a few great pieces than a ton of things you don’t wear much.
“I think New York is the most exciting retail place to be,” she said. “Other cities should be as healthy as New York.”