Edible enlightenment from our eatery experts and colleagues Monie Begley, Richard Nalley and Randall Lane, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.
The Leopard at des Artistes
1 West 67th St. (212-787-8767)
This former Special still is. The Howard Chandler Christy murals are as robust as ever, and the Italian cuisine is equally fulsome. A spaghetti special with sun-dried tomatoes and a Parmesan sauce is a tangy lead-in for the pollo arrosto with Swiss chard and Calabrian peppers. The venison is extremely tender. The flourless chocolate mousse cake with caramelized hazelnuts is the perfect finale to your evening. The maître d’ runs a tight ship, and the service is excellent.
14 Christopher St. (646-756-4145)
Looking at the decor and tasting the French fare here and at big brother Boucherie West Village (99 Seventh Avenue South), you could easily pretend you’re in Paris. Everything from grilled octopus to lamb chops to steak tartare to pates aux fruits de mer are first-rate. Sides such as creamed spinach and ratatouille are also delicious. The little lemon meringue tart is tasty, but the dense chocolate tart (think creamy chocolate caramel fudge) is divine. Have one or two of the house cocktail, La Vie en Rose, and you’ll be a very happy, mellow camper.
155 East 84th St. (646-838-5102)
Veterans Peter Philis and Paul Modica have created the perfect antidote to pandemic lockdowns and isolation: a restaurant devoted to comfort food and a few classics, with dishes from memories of childhood that are drawn from Grandma’s and Mother’s recipes. Start by sharing an order of rice balls with a piquant tomato sauce, and the fried cauliflower with dreamy shallot sauce. The chicken pot pie is creamy, filled with meat and vegetables and topped with golden pastry. Short ribs are in a dark, rich sauce and served on a mound of mashed potatoes. A slice of meatloaf is covered in mushroom gravy. There are super sides of large-leaf creamed spinach, mac and cheese and roasted corn off the cob. Don’t leave without tasting the ethereal Lady M mille crepe cake, the rich chocolate cake or the apple walnut sour cream pie. The setting is cozy, and the service welcoming—just like home.
Trinity Place Bar & Restaurant
115 Broadway, between Cedar and Thames streets (212-964-0939)
A truly safe bet for a good meal in the Financial District. The monumental Mosler Safe doors from 1904 make a striking entrance to this transformed bank vault. The menu, though limited, is a good blend of pastas, salads, burgers, steak and fish. If you’re not up to the hearty beef and Guinness pie, try the chilled tuna and soba noodle salad or the classic Cobb salad. Save room for the sticky toffee pudding, which is as rich in calories as the place once was in gold bars. Service is efficient and unobtrusive.
73 Thompson St., between Spring and Broome streets (212-925-1613)
This 19-seat omakase restaurant in SoHo serves up some very good Japanese classics. The chawan mushi (steamed egg custard) with lobster and the tsukemono (assorted pickled vegetables) are a great start to the meal. The succulent sashimi is sublime, and the accompanying broth with a green vegetable is a wonderful complement. Have a carafe of cowboy yamahai to go with your meal, cleanse your palate with a small bowl of sake sorbet and you’ll feel happily replete.
19 East 69th St. (212-794-6419)
Another piece of Paris in New York. Tuna tartare with wasabi dressing is accompanied by the tangiest and tastiest pickled ginger ever encountered. The frisée aux lardons is a meal in itself. The roasted tiger shrimp with fennel and pastis sauce is sensational, and the cold poached salmon is a rave. Ditto the crème brûlée and the chocolate mousse. Service is friendly and efficient. We’ll be back.
The Mary Lane
99 Bank St., just off Greenwich St. (212-597-9099)
A cozy corner space in the West Village. Celery root soup with toasted almond and celery relish is luscious, and the hamachi crudo with pomelo vinaigrette and the delicata and apple salad dressed with a gorgeous green goddess doesn’t disappoint. The grilled Angus strip with sauce Diane, crispy onion rings and a hash of Brussels sprouts and sunchokes is a home run. Chicken ravioli with broccoli rabe and olives are plump and tasty. The roasted tilefish is perfectly complemented with shimeji mushrooms, bok choy and blood orange miso butter. The desserts, while good, aren’t in the same league as the courses that precede them.
19 East 26th St. (212-265-5959)
This high-ceilinged space with rustic barnlike touches at the north end of Madison Square is a joy to dine in, not only for the food but also for the fact that you can converse without shouting. The butternut squash, leek and apple soup is perfect on a blustery night, and you’ll inhale the mushroom toast with Parmesan and watercress. The sliced New York strip steak with grilled prawn, bacon and a scrumptious cheese tater tot and spinach salad is as tasty as it sounds. The seared branzino filet with braised endive, fingerling potatoes and charred bell peppers is also delicious. Save room for the rum butterscotch bread pudding and the apple cider doughnuts with a caramel dipping sauce. The perfect end to a wonderful meal.