We all love meatballs. Italian meatballs, Swedish meatballs, Sichuan "Lion's Head" meatballs. They are all great. When they aren't terrible. Here is my short list of New York's best.
It looks like a tiny record store, and it is. But hidden inside is a tiny counter with two ladies making the best banh mi sandwiches in New York.
Get it straight: there isn't a better, more straight-forward chef in New York than Marco Canora, whose restaurant is utterly committed to simple, perfectly prepared season food of the very highest order. Also, don't miss out on pasta, which is the open secret of Hearth's greatness.
Joey Campanaro's little gem of a restaurant is still one of the preeminent examples of a great New York neighborhood restaurant. The room is supremely cozy and romantic and the food simple but flawless. The burger, served only at lunch, is one of the city's very best.
A distinctly modern and urbane version of middle-eastern / meditteranean food, the brilliant Phillipe Massoud's Lebanese-inflected small plates restaurant achieves a level of cool usually beyond the reach of hummus and mezes.
Although best known for its superb salumi, Cesare Casella's informal UWS restaurant also serves some of the area's very best pastas -- at a fraction of what they cost elsewhere.
Star chef Michael Psilakis aimed to take Greek food into the American mainstream; and with Kefi to some extent he succeeded. It's always crowded and the fine food and modest prices are obviously the reason why. If there were more Kefis octopus might be as popular as veal.
Michael White, arguably New York's preeminent Italian chef, has done four-star seafood at Marea, Northern Italian at Alto, and French-Italian at Ai Fiori, but his heart will always be in the meaty ragus and robust pastas of emilia-romagna, the spirtual home of Osteria Morini. Its pastas are dense and rich, festooned with cream or meat sauce, and as often as not butter too. The grilled meats are superb, and the cured ones even more so. A big selection of area wines, including 8 different Lambruscos, goes with it.
Some people say Spicy & Tasty is the best Chinese restaurant in New York; others say it's just the best in Queens. Certainly if you are an admirer of hot Sichuan food, it doesn't get much better than this Flushing standby.
Swedish-born African-American superchef Marcus Samuellsen's eclectic modern take on soul food has made this chic Harlem restaurant biggest thing since The Cotton Club.
Everybody loves The Meatball Shop. Why? Because everybody likes meatballs, cheap good food, and restaurants that are open very late. The Meatball Shop provides all these things, and in addition, its meatballs are really good. There are pork, veal, beef, chicken, and even some form of vegetarian "meatballs" all in a choice of sauces. You get in, you get out, and you have just enough on your stomach to ground all the beer you had (or are planning to have. )
High-end northern italian food comes with a steep pricetag at this fine restaurant, but many diners seem to feel that it's more than worth it. A live fireplace and a superb wine list are two reasons why -- although the rich but refined food is still the place's best feature.