There is no purer expression of the localist ideal than that of the chef himself tromping through the forest, digging up chanterelles and picking berries. Actually that almost never happens. But urban foragers do supply a handful of restaurants with items found in nearby forests -- a special commitment worth checking out.
Still, to my mind, the defining New York restaurant, Gramercy Tavern is the crown jewel in Danny Meyer's restaurant group, partially as the result of chef Michael Anthony's amazing greenmarket cooking, and partially because of its incredible service, great cocktails, and Nancy Olson's superb dessert program. One caveat: the front room is all air and color and excitement, and the back room is a drab dungeon.
Everyone (but me) seems to love this mom-friendly Park Slope pizza, whose owners have come to personify the enlightened, all-natural cooking of the "New Brooklyn Cooking." The pizza is nothing special, but many of the other dishes are. I guess.
"Big Box" Japanese restaurants are generally low-quality, off-brand affairs, but EN is as good as it is big. Avoid the New York cliches (e.g. miso cod, etc. ) and ask for the actual Japanese standards at which the place excels.
John Fraser's heroic effort to single-handedly bring haute cuisine to the Upper West Side has largely succeeded, thanks to his unpretentious but precise cooking. His Meatless Monday menu is so good that even I can eat it.
A sprawling, citadel-like space in the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, this bushwick pizzeria has grown into one of the most adventurous and exciting restaurants in New York City.
This big, raucous, and contrived, modeled on similar big-box rustic Italian restaurants, has the cool / casual vibe down pat; but the food is surprisingly good.
New York knew Harold Dieterle mostly for the fine but traditional cooking the Top Chef winner did at his American restaurant Perilla. So when he debuted the Thai-inspired Kin Shop, they were first surprised, and then delighted.
Atera is far and away New York's most advanced venture into the world of foraged modernist cooking, of the kind found at European chef meccas like Mugaritz and Noma. Not everybody likes it but everyone has to go once.