There are some great chefs who are great administrators and managers, and there are some chefs who are great creators, artists who inspire their rivals and customers alike. And then there are a few certified geniuses, chefs of such singular vision that malice itself can find no way to deny them. These are some of those people.
Whether you swoon for its 4 star food, or find it, as I do, somewhat over manicured, there is no question that this is one of the great restaurants in America. The room itself has a grandeur that is unmatched and the level of service is unparalelled. So is the price, so maybe come here on an expense account or with a wealthy uncle.
This is the bistro where Jean Georges Vongerichten's genius first emerged. While the chef has since then moved on to grander things the intimate, casual feel here suits his food better, and brings back memories of when this was THE place to eat in NYC.
New York's most famous modernist restaurant is entirely the expression of its chef, the brilliant Wylie Dufresne. Why? Because he's in the kitchen every night, tasting every dish and expediting ever order, that's why.
Say this for New York's sushi king -- he is at work behind the bar every day, and when you splurge on his omakase menu, it is the master himself who hands you each piece of magic.
Turkish food guru Orhan Yegan created this casual restaurant as a platform for his homey, understated cooked dishes, but it's the mezes that steal the show, brilliantly simple and dressed with just some lemon and olive oil.
The world's largest menu, served by the world's grumpiest man, Shopsins is a New York legend, and the food actually lives up to the myth. Kenny Shopsin is actually as hostile as everyone says, but he is a true master of American vernacular cooking, and his menu is truly staggering: there are nearly 800 items on it, and practically every one is good.
Kneel before Zod! Eccentric genius chef Zod Arifai cooks nearly every dish at the this small, brilliant, one-of-a-kind modern restaurant, the best in North Jersey by far.
The city's coolest vegetarian restaurant is wholly a product of Amanda Cohen, the spunky chef who redefined what meatless cooking could be like through her embrace of modern technique and the liberal use of butter and cream. (Don't ever mistake Dirt Candy for vegan.) It's small to the point of being cramped and by no means cheap, but if, like me, you have vegetarian food, come here and change your mind.
Known, rightly, as the city's most admired Italian restaurant, the secret of Marea is that Michael White's pastas, and not the restaurant's fish entrees. How could they not be anti-climactic after the "Sultan of Spaghetti's" signature dishes?
What started out a loving tribute to Italian-American food from two talented young line cooks has morphed under their genius into a true culinary destination, a French Laundry for the Sunday Gravy set. No reservations.
Universally hailed as one of the greatest exhibitions of culinary genius in the USA, this small chef's counter (there are only 18 seats) showcases Cesar Ramirez's exquisite food, but it also asks a lot from its customers, who are required to sit in reverential silence for hours, barely talking, never taking pictures, etc. etc. By all accounts it's the sort of meal nobody goes to twice -- more a touchstone for gastrocrats than a meal to look forward to. At the same time, by all accounts Ramirez is a genius.