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Zagat 2008 Smiles on Daniel, Gordon Ramsay, Others

The people have spoken!Photo courtesy Zagat

New York’s little red book, the 2008 Zagat guide, is out today. It is more significant to the restaurant world than the Michelin guide, and for good reason: The same people who use it are the ones who write it. So what if it’s a popularity contest? Life is a popularity contest. There were some minor shakeups in this year’s rankings, such as Union Square Cafe retaking its sibling Gramercy as most popular restaurant, and Daniel retaking the top spot in cuisine from Le Bernardin. But the more interesting points required a slightly closer look.

Gordon Ramsay, with a 25, topped the newcomer's list*. Marco Canora’s Insieme garnered a 26 for cuisine, but its relatively low number of votes rendered it ineligible for this list.

Asiate took top décor, and Per Se top service honors.

• Overall dining prices were only three cents more than last year, at $39.46 per dinner. That’s such a low figure that we guess they must be averaging Gray’s Papaya into it; at expensive restaurants, the average meal cost has gone up 11.6 percent a year, and you are now looking at $143.06 per head if you want to put the feedbag on in such places.

•Dom DeMarco, the Saint of Avenue J, has gotten his due again, with a top pizza score of 27 for DiFara; in fact, Brooklyn as a whole did well this year, putting Saul, Peter Luger, and Di Fara all into the top-twenty food list. The Good Fork, beloved of Alan Richman, earned itself a whopping 26 cuisine score. Former Cheap Eats champ Tanoreen earned a mighty 27.

• Queens stood up pretty well too, with both Astoria’s Trattoria L’Incontro and Woodside’s Sripraphai earning 26s for cuisine, and 25s for Sapori D’Ischia, Don Peppe, Piccola Venezia, and Taverna Kyclades. Restaurants in out-of-the-way neighborhoods get disproportionate voting, though; everyone in Ozone Park thinks Don Peppe is the best restaurant in America. But Zagat doesn’t judge; it’s only a codification of the people’s prejudices.

Zagat [Official site]

*Correction: This item originally identified Insieme as "best newcomer."

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