Editors’ Choice

15 New Restaurants Opened in NYC in 2015

The smell of fresh paint mixing with smells from the kitchen, lines and raving reviews at openings—all those are signs of booming restaurant life in NYC, despite the recession. Asian and European, East Village, Bushwick and Harlem, under $10 counters and fine dining alike all make the culinary face of New York. The city that never sleeps happily eats, on a date, on a lunch break or after shows. Here's our pick of the most buzzed-about spots with the most famed fare, chefs, décor and aftertaste for your next night on the town.

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#1. Le Turtle

Taavo Somer and Carlos Quirarte, of Freemans and Smile respectively, have opened their first restaurant together, having transformed the former Antonioni's space with exposed brick and reclaimed marble tables, Danish chairs, leather banquettes and seating clusters like a twelve seat booth to which you have to climb a few stairs. Greg Proechel formerly of Blanca and Mr. Nilsson is helming the kitchen (veggies, cheese with kabocha and onion petal, parsley root and cockles, grilled wagyu, braised oxtail), the wine list is overseen by Jessie Keifer, an ex-Semilla sommelier. House bread comes from Roberta's, and the vibe–from the hungry Lower East Side crowd.

 177 Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002

#2. Lowlife

No white tablecloths in this place with a mid-century vibe, and the chef Alex Leonard, who starred in Michelin as the former chef de cuisine in Blanca, is not just cooking but making his own condiments, like vinegars, kimchee and cheese, and a lot of produce comes from a farm in the Catskills owned by the owner Hugh Crickmore's brother. Borsht is weird, it's a condensed purple object with some caviar on the side, but the rest of it, like lamb tartare and yakitori-style chicken with smoked cabbage charred to a smoky finish, do belong in the realm of fine dining. Small plates like the $16 coriander-spiced fluke in dashi, $20 garganelli noodles in lamb Bolognese and mains such as a $20 guinea hen roulade do definitely deliver.

 178 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

#3. Lupulo

Portuguese cervejarias have been an inspiration for George Mendes' cooking in this new spot. The closest American equivalent would be a brewpub, and the menu supports the beery spirit: the juicy meat on chicken piri piri (the super hot sauce itself comes in a squeeze bottle), Manila clams in vinho verde with cilantro and garlic (NY Times advises to soak bread in the sauce). The snails are a tad large, but the olive oil with paprika is the way it should be. The so-called cucina povera implies simple ingredients, and so is their açorda — both mushy and crunchy, with a few carabineros and a shrimp-head stock. Deserts are there too, like the pudim Molotov. And even though the menu is a bit confusing, and the noise too loud, they're on the way to glory, with Ryan Mauban looking for new and innovative brews and ales.

 835 Sixth Avenue (at West 29th Street), New York, NY 10001

#4. La Sirena

Thanks to Batali & Bastianich of B&B Hospitality group, their long-awaited place in the Maritime Hotel is now open where La Bottega used to be, serving the likes of leek and mascarpone pasta with Perigord and spinach (the panzotti) and other homemade pastas like duck mezzaluna with marinara by the chef Josh Laurano (any two pastas for $24 btw). Coastal Italian is just one of the concepts behind, and some entries that stand out might be an "old-school" beef braciole (rolled beef short rib with broccoli rabe and crumbs), or a braised and roasted chicken or some shareable ones like a $120 lardo-crusted dry-aged bone-in NY strip for two with bomboloni and a $70 branzino for two as well. It seats roughly 200 with a 38-seat bar, quartz walls by Caesarstone bear light globes, and the two dining rooms sit at two ends of the bar, and the windows will open in warmer times, plus an outdoor seating is planned.

 88 Ninth Ave., New York, NY 10011

#5. Santina

Shoots and leaves are not just what panda eats, it's what's inside Santina's $20 giardinia crudité, at Santina, explodes, along with bright greens, Pantone carrots and neon beets. Another Italian eatery on our list is located in a glass box of a building under the High Line, filled with blue and pink, the structure designed by Renzo Piano, Venetian glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, Italian 50's and 60's classics play through the speakers, potted palms and Sambuca supply the green hues. Even the waiters look instagrammed. Torrisi, Carbone and Zalaznick, the Major Food Group behind the Torrisi Italian Specialties and other establishments, have excelled again. Santina is named after Carbone's paternal grandmother, an immigrant from the Sicilian coast to the Eastern seaboard, the name means "little saint". The menu borrows on the wider Mediterranean region, with a North African influence, like nuts everywhere, but there's still a Tuscan Cecina crepe and five fillings take an unaware back safely to Mama Italia.

 820 Washington Street (Gansevoort Street), Meatpacking District, New York, NY 10014

#6. Her Name is Han

Moving to the Asian section of our list, here's another space named after a dear family member, as Han was the name of this Korean restaurant owner's mother. Fresh and light homestyle soul food, seafood stews, spicy pork (spicy red strands with gochujang), noodle soups (like the beef noodle soup, available for sharing, in which case dumplings may be added), fried dried candy-tasting fish, and although spicy and fermented, really good, laid back and fun. $27 bottles of grapefruit and blueberry housebrewed soju to drink, an amazing soul and jazz soundtrack in the background, and, to get more detailed about food, innovative small plates of dukbokki (rice cakes with kabocha squash strewn with shishitos), japchae noodles with garlicky clams, slow-cooked pork belly with kimchi, berry sauce and deep-fried pork shoulder, a spicy seafood stew with beef dumplings (a big bubbling cauldron of shrimp, crab, clams and beef, can be shared by a group).

 17 E. 31st St., New York, NY 10016

#7. Oiji

Another Korean gem is a sparely decorated (complete with Edison bulbs) and named for a cucumber kimchee East Village spot in the former Dok Suni space, with two chefs, Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku, who learned to cook in Bouley and Gramercy Tavern. A small modestly priced menu, like the one at Chow (nearly everything is priced under $20, and that's the way it should be), with sake and soju to drink, and a variety of home Korean classics to eat, from smoked mackerel to braised oxtail. And not on Korean alone—Ramp aioli tinges the beef tartare, and tapioca coats the fried chicken, the mackerel is smoked in pine, and the platter of Ssam has not just pork, but tofu and sticky rice in lotus leaves. Oxtail, eggy beef shank, rice Jang Jo Rim and cold buckwheat noodles are worth the trip.

 119 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

#8. Mission Chinese

A typical New York story of being shut down by the health department on rat-related charges and reinventing itself in the space—Mission Chinese is up and running again, which is why it has made our list. The buzz is, you should go for: complimentary dumpling, get your try of the raw bar, with oysters and crab legs and a tray of sea urchin with ink; chicken wings, even an odd pizza, salt cod fried rice, thrice cooked bacon, kung pao pastrami, green tea noodles, squid ink peanut noodles, Mongolian long beans, smoked prime rib and Josephina's House Special chicken (Josephina is the chef's grandmother as well. Is it something about the ancestor' spirits, perhaps?)

 171 East Broadway (Rutgers Street), Lower East Side, New York, NY 10002

#9. Faro

Back to Italy, this time, in Bushwick, New Brooklyn, in a warehouse where MoMA used to store works of art, Kevin Addey and his wife Debbie have opened Faro. Farmers and fishermen supply the goods, and the chef even mills the organic flour, for pastas such as green-garlic lumache with favas. 50-seat dining room, open kitchen with a wood-burning oven, and again, the under $20 menu, featuring sweet pea porridge with morels, skate wings with rice and anchovy, and other things sustainable.

 436 Jefferson St., Brooklyn, NY 11237

#10. Ramen Lab

From China to Japan takes us the Ramen Lab, the tiny and praised Nolita joint by the New Jersey factory Sun Noodle. A line in the cold waits for the opening of the no reservations and practically no chairs place for noodle freaks, serving a torigara shoyu (a homage to Tokyo's chicken ramen). Unpasteurized sake in cans, and broth by the chef Nakamura, who appears at the counter every evening in his black fedora. Plus the vegetarian miso and a braised pork shoulder. Cash only.

 70 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10012

#11. Streetbird Rotisserie

OK, so this is not exactly a newcomer, as they've officially opened in 2014, but as the buzz was created in 2015 and they still make the lists as a new place, here they are—the Black Americana themed poultry joint, tending heavily towards early hip-hop and revolving around soul food, putting Harlem on today's culinary map of the new and reasonably priced. The birds turn from gold to brown, and the Ethiopia-born chef, who grew up in Sweden and cooked Scandinavian, then cooked African, is happy to feed the hungry with his treats. There's even an entry named Swediopian on the menu (chicken meat, cheese, egg, and a flatbread).

 2149 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, New York, NY 10027

#12. Superiority Burger

Hippy food for the punk-minded is what can be said about Superiority Burger. Or, in the words of GQ, the best burger of the year has no meat in it. Vegan rules here, and the chef indeed is a former punk rock drummer. East Village is on our list again with squishing buns, crunching lettuce, snapping pickles and yes, the eponymous burger is only $6.

 430 E. 9th St. New York, NY 10009

#13. Virginia's

Did we say East Village is a culinary mecca? We're saying it now. It's blooming with yet another kitchen run by a Per Se alum (Christian Ramos) like many others in the city, this time it's an old-world bistro with a marble bar and vaulted ceilings, and modern eclectic menu of braised duck with soybean, Morcilla salad and, oh my goodness, a chocolate-beet cake. Vintage menus that line the walls were collected by the father of the co-owner Reed Adelson. And yet again, the name of the place honors both Ramos's and Adelson's mothers.

 647 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10009

#14. Wildair

Lower East Side, here we come. Contra's casual partner with its sleek counters and natural wines on the wall, this is not just for oenophiles (indeed, one may find a lot of non-sulfated-saturated wines in here, plus some artisanal liqueurs), but there's probably some of the best bar food in the city as the place is run by the serious chefs. Behold a slab of toasted sourdough with some littleneck clams, lemon-fried calamari with basil, beef tartare with chestnuts or pork Milanese, and yes, either a cloudy glass of Muskadig Breizh, or of Mendall from Southern Spain. And a panna cotta.

 142 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

#15. Willow

Our fly-like journey ends in Brooklyn, where an ambitious place with modest prices have sprung, inside a standalone building with a splashy mural, attentive staff, gratis sourdough bread service coupled with aa purée of kale and green garlic and tableside soups. 90-days aged beef with pickled cherries and nasturtium may not be the cheapest, but it's pretty, and the chef John Poiarkoff of Russian descent butter-poaches a loin of monkfish (known as the poor man's lobster), prepares $13 spud purses, elevates wild pig's gaminess with acerbic compressed rhubarb and nutty sunchokes and happily conducts his New American symphony to the raptured audiences.

 506 Franklin Avenue, New York, NY 11238
  Published ID5195

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