Beef Is the New Pig…
For some time now, pork has been the protein of choice among the city’s most celebrated chefs. But with burger madness in full bloom and boutique butchers popping up all over the culinary landscape, the good old-fashioned New York beefsteak is making a comeback. If you don’t believe me, take a seat with the rest of the starchy expense-account crowd at David Chang’s new midtown outlet Má Pêche. The mood in the Ikea-style dining hall can feel hollow, but there’s no denying the quality of the fusion steak-frites, which executive chef Tien Ho constructs with an expertly seared “Juliet” of Creekstone beef and a carefully arranged stack of crunchy rice-cake fries. The real specialty of the house, however, is the majestic, order-ahead Beef Seven Ways feast, which, on the afternoon I sampled it, included a refined veal-tongue salad tossed in a tangy plum vinaigrette, a trio of deliciously simmered oxtails as big as cannonballs, and a beef shank so large and beautifully cooked that it caused the assembled meat lovers at my table to break out into a round of quiet applause.
If charred cow innards are your particular addiction, there’s no better place to get your fix today than the neighborly Japanese yakiniku grill restaurant Takashi, which opened last summer on a quiet stretch of Hudson Street. My otherwise beef-eating daughters avert their eyes when Daddy orders the more extreme house specialties like beef heart, chuck flap dabbed with fresh uni, and funky, curiously tasty bits of cow stomach, which the kitchen marinates in industrial amounts of miso (cook until charred, the menu advises). But the girls have no problem devouring platter after platter of the excellent Korean-style short ribs, or the signature house dessert, which consists of a twirl of soft-serve ice cream infused with vanilla beans from Madagascar and flecked with bits of fluttering gold leaf.
Mario Batali’s acclaimed new food hall, Eataly, contains all sorts of well-documented gastronomic wonders. But the place my avowed non-vegan friends can’t stop nattering about is Manzo. The only full-service sit-down restaurant in the complex may look like something out of a food court in the Paramus Park Mall, but the menu (executed by former Babbo cook Michael Toscano) reads like a beef lover’s fever dream. Toscano cooks up sophisticated offal-themed mezzalune (try the one stuffed with calf’s brains and ricotta), slices of calf’s tongue dressed with frizzled leeks, and a version of cinnamon-laced cotechino sausage that tastes like it was shipped fresh from one of the better butchers in Modena. If you order the beautifully marbled rib chop ($95 for two), it comes to the table with a little demitasse of beef jus and a side of pommes soufflés, and the perfectly cooked veal chop ($45) is finished, for extra-smoky flavor, in burning hay.