To all intents and purposes, this cosy little bamboo-lined room is in Bushwick, though the address is technically Maspeth. They don’t take tele-reservations and they’re wildly popular, so prepare to wait for a table on the outside bench, unless you come in an hour earlier and show your face to give your deets for availability. It sounds like a right ol’ effort – and it certainly is. And it’s also daylight robbery: daily specials are around the $23 mark, and that’s to eat simple fare at shared tables…in Queens!
This late-night pizzeria mini-chain has a great reputation for its three branches (Williamsburg, Bowery and Park Ave) and there may well be plans for expansion. Giulio Adriani’s flash-fried and oven-finished pizza fritte satisfies the munchies of most late diners. The pizza is certainly top-notch here, but the service can be lax and even quite uppity. But fear not, stoners: delivery is always available too, though you’d be missing the upscale decor and the warmth of the perfectly low-glow lighting.
Subway: Lorimer St (L), Metropolitan Av (G)
A ‘cull’ is a lobster with one of its claws broken off, a ‘pistol’ its pitiful clawless crustacean buddy – I didn’t know this until I had seen the paintings in their bathroom (a great way of avoiding the inevitable public bathroom lines in Chelsea market) on my third visit there. Happy hour is tremendous here – all oysters and clams are a dollar each and there are chowder, tacos and drinks specials. Naragansett pints ($4) and Sauvignon Blancs ($7) will make you want to stay longer, while the Pistols on Horseback (fried oyster wrapped in Jamon Serrano on a ramp crepe with smoked aioli: $7 for 2) might tip your bill over into triple digits. Service is a little harried but you can hardly blame them. Expect long waits from 4-6pm.
Subway: 8th Ave (L)
This spacious corner restaurant with outdoor seating in Bushwick may be open until 4am, but they’ll need to increase their portion size if they’re keen to attract loyalty in their first month of business. The fluke ceviche ($12) was fantastically zesty and really had so much bite, but was about a third of the size it was expected to be, and sloppily served in a shallow steel bowl. The swordfish skewers ($10) were tasty, and not so tiny, but the crab causa was far too firm and just not mushy enough, even though the pulled crab meat was great and the purple hue of the potatoes authentic. Service is swift and helpful, though not overly warm and cheery, and decor and fittings are impressive, as are the seating options inside. Lorenzo’s kitchen definitely knows what it’s doing, but just needs to offer more of it on the plate.
Subway: Jefferson St. (L)
Dave Chang’s noodlehouse Momofuku is an NYC institution, so when he opened this fried chicken sandwich eaterie almost next door to his East Village restaurant, he really brought in the crowds. In the same month that Shake Shack unleashed their own bird-in-a-bun, Fuku – with only three items on the menu, standing room only, and initial limited opening hours – caused a stir. There’s no bathroom here, so when you pay $8 for a chicken-thigh crisply fried and placed in a bun far too small for it, that’s all you get – the food. Oh, but WHAT a sandwich; I could’ve done without the pickles, but the off-menu daikon-radish slaw is what I’ll ask for in the future. The taste of the chicken is spicy, like mild scotch bonnet, but without any lingering heat, and completely devoid of artificial chilli flavours (so I added some Korean hot sauce, of course). And that’s what’s really bringing the punters in, to the extent that the queuing time can be up to 45 minutes, though the buzz has definitely died down by now. The drinks list is actually much longer than the food choices – Tecate beer, Micheladas, whiskey & ginger, G&T, Margaritas etc. There’s also a water tap with some plastic cups. The other items on the menu are steak fries (which are supposed to be very disappointing) and a farro salad with orange dressing, which I’d love to try next time.
Subway: 1st Ave
Superlative Neapolitan-style pizza at slightly higher prices than your average. Fire roasted peppers with burrata ($12) are soaked in olive oil but served in small portions, just like the other starters such as the white beans and pesto. Fior di latte is on every pizza, and though the
sopressata picante ($15) is good, the cremini and fennel sausage pizza ($17) is even better. There’s a range of draft and bottled beers, cocktails and wines, and service is just average. The decor and lighting is very intimate – even romantic -though, and this definitely is a special spot in the neighborhood.
Subway: Franklin Ave, Botanic Garden, Park Pl.
New York restaurant critics – no doubt chagrined by Zuma’s belated opening in New York after successful outposts in Dubai, Miami, Istanbul and Hong Kong after the original London location – weren’t kind to the brand when it came to the city. Why should NYC be last on the list, why such an afterthought? After all, the super-rich haven’t stopped parking their money here. It might be easier to ignore such relics of the early-naughties, themselves far too close to the eighties’ slick and flashy izakaya abominations; for Zuma is definitely big and brash and pricey. Delusionaryculinary visited the Knightsbridge location in 2004 and again in 2014, but lunch in this midtown location on a hot summer’s day will be most memorable for the lamb chops, thick cut and marinated in miso, then seared over the robata grill until dark and sticky outside, and pink inside. Their version of a Chawan Mushi, remixed for dessert but less egg custard and more fruity-foam, was unbeatable. The $25 restaurant week lunch deal was in effect, and made it so much more accessible, but prices hover around the $21-23 mark for most dishes, which for such splendid fusion Japanese fare is really rather reasonable. Ignore the peacocks, get the lamb chops.
Subway: Grand Central – 42nd st