I've thought long and hard about this one. So many great restaurants. So much history. But if there were only ten restaurants in New York City that I could save, and those ten would be all the city would be remembered for, these would be that ten.
Sometimes called the Mecca of deli, Katz's is more accurately the Dome of the Rock of Deli: the sanctum sanctorum, the source and shrine of all that deli means in America. Go for the mystique -- but stay for the pastami.
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.
Mario Batali's flagship hasn't lost its fastball; its vivid, ballsy take on Italian food continues to constantly change and impress.
For all its asian inflections and supremely elegant simplicity, the food at Le Bernardin is potent to the point of richness -- a testament to chef Eric Ripert's vision and balance. Service is impeccable and the sommelier, Aldo Sohm, the best in the country.
Daniel is a hard restaurant to characterize. It's probably the standard by which all Michelin 3-star food in New York is judged, when service, atmosphere, wine, and everything else is taken into account. The food is precise, globalist, and executed with the very utmost extent of French technical skill. But from a purely culinary point of view, I always found it somewhat disappointing. When they do the kind of glorified Lyonnais or country French food Daniel Boulud does better than anybody else, the place is unbeatable; but too often I feel that there is no real point of view. Flavors and traditions jump from course to course, and you are left without a real sense of where the kitchen is coming from -- which is not to say the food isn't delicious. But it always seemed a little overconceived and perhaps a little overelaborate. That said, this is probably the ultimate New York restaurant experience.
The most famous steakhouse in America delivers on its promise of incomparable atmosphere and unique character. It's the template of all other steakhouses, and you are almost guaranteed to have a great time there, especially if your pockets are deep. The steak is not, in fact, that great anymore, but they're still very good for the most part, and their dressing of butter and kidney suet could make a steak-umm good. The hash browns, cake, bacon, and the other sides are wonderful too.
Yes, it's in the middle of nowhere. Yes, you have to wait a million years while owner Dom DeMarco painstakingly makes his pies one at a time. And yes, the pizza costs more than the crap sold on every corner. But these are masterpiece pies, unique in the world, and the standard by which all other pizza is judged. Live with it.
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.
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.
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?