Top 5 New Cheap Eats of 2006
Mall food to trump all mall food, the salmon rillettes and fluffy quiche served at Thomas Keller’s elegant Time Warner Center café are good enough to transcend the chain-store surroundings. His take on the Oreo cookie? Even better.
FRANKIES 17 SPUNTINO
Just like its Carroll Gardens twin, this cozy Italian wine bar serves exactly what today’s New Yorker feels like eating, from simple, impeccably fresh salads to better-than-Grandma’s meatballs and braciola.
Zak Pelaccio’s ode to Malaysian food doesn’t pull any punches, despite its trendy meatpacking-district location. The bustling open kitchen, the ambitious wine list, and the enthusiastic waiters add to the charm.
This is where serious foodies go to sit at a dining bar and sample chef Wesley Genovart’s small, exquisitely prepared plates of innovative Spanish-inspired food, like short-rib-stuffed squid and quail-egg tortillas.
ROOM 4 DESSERT
And this is where they go for dessert—another bar, farther downtown, where Will Goldfarb’s intriguing offerings include four-part themed tastings and lighter, multilayered desserts in a glass.
Top 5 Pizza Places
UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA
Pizza aficionados say it’s as good as—if not better than—any you’d find in Naples, and that’s why it may seem expensive ($18.95 a pie). For authenticity and purity of flavor, no other pizza in town comes close. It’s worth every penny.
Everyone talks about the Michael Pollan–esque ingredient sourcing—and rightfully so. But chef Andrew Feinberg is also a pizza virtuoso. Thanks to a superb crust, his pies would be terrific even if they weren’t topped with coppa made from sustainably raised Heritage Acres pork and locally-grown-parsley pesto.
DI FARA PIZZA
In his monklike devotion to his craft—if not his shabby, flour-splattered appearance—owner Dom De Marco is the Masa Takayama of pizza, and he’s been at it for over 40 years. The Sicilian slice is the best in town or anywhere else, for that matter.
Mecca for any serious student of pizza. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: No one—not John’s, not Lombardi’s, not even Patsy’s uptown—does the old-school coal-oven blistered-crust style as well. May the dough never run out.
This is the best charred-crust pizza ever to come out of a plain old gas oven operated by a Greek-American pizza man.
Top 5 Prix Fixe Meals
The spare, utilitarian room isn’t much to look at, but chef Daniel Eardley, who worked at Washington Park, more than compensates with a Tuesday and Wednesday $25 prix fixe that feels like a gift.
CHARLES’ SOUTHERN STYLE KITCHEN
The famous fried chicken alone is worth the price of the $11.99 all-you-can-eat buffet. But save room for excellent oxtails, smothered steak, collards, and macaroni and cheese. Wash it down with a glass of lemonade ($1 extra; free refills).
Although he could get away with a lot more, owner Arnaud Erhart, to his credit, hasn’t raised the price of his $25 prix fixe dinner, even in the midst of the current Red Hook renaissance.
The three-course $25 Sunday Supper showcasing chef Shane Philip Coffey’s quirky seasonal style is the best deal on Clinton Street.
Consider the venerable $2.75 Recession Special (two succulent dogs and one medium-size drink—except for pineapple, of course) as the cheapest prix fixe meal in town. Dine over by the window ledge next to the mustard dispenser.