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Novel Thinking

Our critics’ favorite new restaurants.

Two-time favorite Sfoglia  

  • Sfoglia

    1402 Lexington Ave.; 212-831-1402

    Sure it’s on a wretched, traffic-heavy corner on the upper reaches of Lexington Avenue. But the elegant Italianate cooking of Ron Suhanosky and his baker wife, Colleen, is more satisfying than what you find in larger Italian joints, and has more depth than the food in restaurants of a similar size. The artful blend of quality, inventiveness, and down-home, farm-fresh pulchritude is worth a special trip to this benighted part of town.


  • Sfoglia

    Sfoglia materialized quietly in an inauspicious space where a parade of restaurants had tumbled, its whimsical country-cottage airs instantly disarming, its borrowings from Renaissance cookbooks both daring and delicious. Spaghetti in tomato sauce flecked with ripe strawberry. Braised radicchio sprinkled with bites of amaretti cookie. Sweet-potato gnocchi with drowned prunes. If you forget to reserve the rustic fruit tart ahead, comfort yourself with voluptuous semifreddo.


  • Kyotofu

    705 Ninth Ave.; 212-974-6012

    There is no belligerent health-food agenda or anti-meat attitude at Kyotofu, the singular Japanese café masquerading as a dessert bar. There is just a serenely transporting space, a drinks list that bests most froufrou bars with inventive shochu cocktails and interesting wines, and a menu that pays equal, meticulous attention to the sweet and the savory. The house-made tofu is smooth and creamy, whether you have it in a salad, doused with sweet syrup, or blended into a lovely square of cheesecake, perfumed with sansho pepper and crusted with black sesame.


  • Momofuku Ssäm Bar

    207 Second Ave.; 212-254-3500

    Chang & Co. could have just cloned Noodle Bar, in the way that, say, Mulberry Street’s Benito I begat Mulberry Street’s Benito II. To their credit, they didn’t do that. What began life as a newfangled burrito joint has morphed into an entirely original, unpretentious, unpredictable place to eat. The ambience is stools and chopsticks, the soundtrack quasi-ironic rock and roll. And the food can be as elemental as raw oysters and thin-sliced country ham or as weirdly delicious as sea urchin with whipped tofu and tapioca. Go during the day for a burrito, or after midnight, when the crowd is a mix of off-duty chefs, insomniac gourmands, and assorted other culinary screwballs.

From the 2007 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine