It's tricky to keep track of how people feel about ramps at any given moment — is there a backlash, or are we experiencing a backlash to the backlash? — but here's what really matters: The tiny wild onions are a delicious first sign of spring, and this time of year, you can expect to see them on every menu in town. Part of their appeal: They're versatile, so chefs can pickle them, grill them, stuff them into dumplings, blend them into butter — the works. To help make sense of it all, here are 22 of the most interesting ramp dishes in town this year. Love 'em or hate 'em, they won't be around for long.
The Dish: Tajarin, Fava Beans, Ramps, Peas
Cost: Part of a $95 tasting
Joe Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, recently crowned Food & Wine's Best New Chefs, have a brand-new pasta with ramps on their $95 tasting menu — and they're also adding a ramp garnish to the beloved $65 roast-chicken dish with morels and asparagus (in place of gratin and black truffles).
Pearl & Ash
The Dish: Whiskey & Ramp Butter
Have you heard? Butter is back. Chef Richard Kuo has swapped his usual chicken butter for a whiskey-and-ramp butter, made with pickled ramps and a touch of honey. He's also making a $16 skirt-steak dish with broccoli, ramps, pearl onions, and beer sauce — his take on classic Chinese beef and broccoli.
The Dish: Ramp Tasting
The biggest ramp-heads will opt for this four-course ramp tasting menu, with ramp risotto, roasted trout with ramp emulsion, veal with charred ramps, and ramp-wrapped cheese.
The Dish: Steak With Bone-Marrow Flan, Grilled Ramps, and Ramp Jus
At this new uptown restaurant, chef Craig Hopson adds ramps to juices from the steak to form a gravy of sorts. Then he simply tops the meat with grilled ramps.
The Dish: Ramp Pizza
Look out for this seasonal special pie (with marinara sauce, Pecorino, ramps, and olive oil) — and make sure to act quickly if you see it on the menu.
The Dish: Grilled Ramps and Asparagus
Einat Admony pairs these spring vegetables with a Meyer lemon sauce and breadcrumbs mixed with baharat, a Middle Eastern spice blend made of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and dried ginger.
The Dish: Rombi
This rhombus-shaped pasta, dressed in white wine and butter, comes with sautéed ramps, grilled asparagus, Parmesan dashi, breadcrumbs, and chili flakes.
The Dish: Potato Gnocchi
John Fraser's critically acclaimed vegetable-focused restaurant is only getting better with spring's produce. For example, the chef now pairs soft gnocchi with fava beans, ramps, and Parmesan.
Cull & Pistol
The Dish: Fried Chesapeake Oysters
This excellent Chelsea Market seafood restaurant makes "angels on horseback": deep-fried Virginia oysters wrapped in Serrano ham and served with a ramp crêpe, lettuce, and peanut aïoli.
The Dish: Tagliatelle
At the Il Buco on Bond, you'll find ramps prepared with Virginia ramps, peperoncino, and Parmesan. And at Il Buco Alimentari, there's grilled young chicken rubbed with harissa and served with roasted forest mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and ramps from New Jersey.
The Dish: Grilled Ramp Toast
A new addition to the growing toast selection at Charlie Bird (there's tripe toast and stracciatella cheese toast already): grilled ramp toast, topped with pancetta.
The Dish: Charcoal-Grilled Flatbread
A whole-wheat flour flatbread is topped with Hudson Valley Fresh ricotta, porchetta-style pork belly, a fried farm egg, herb sauce, and grilled ramps, of course.
All Good Things
The Dish: Ramp and Lamb Carbonara
This market café in Tribeca offers ramps à la carte, while Le Restaurant's ten-course tasting menu includes a dish of rabbit with ramps, salsify, fiddlehead ferns, and spice bush.
Thistle Hill Tavern
The Dish: Pork Chop
Dale Talde pairs a 16-ounce smoked Hampshire pork chop with super-seasonal rhubarb mostarda and ramp chimichurri.
The Dish: Girandole
There's a new housemade pasta dish on the menu, and it comes with speck, ramps, English peas, and fiore sardo. (Andrew Carmellini thinks ramp backlash is b.s.: He's serving ramp chimichurri with lamb at the Library, and ramps as a garnish on Lafayette's potato-and-leek potage.)
The Dish: Skuna Bay Salmon
This brand-new restaurant serves salmon cooked a la plancha with grilled baby bok choy, rhubarb chutney, and an earthy ramp aïoli.
The Little Owl
The Dish: Ramp Risotto
Ask for Joey Campanaro's off-menu special: a light and creamy ramp risotto with seared black cod, topped with roasted red peppers.
The Dish: Octopus a la Plancha
Michael White's midtown restaurant serves a simple, satisfying octopus dish with farro, ramps, and sunflower-seed pesto.
The Dish: Chuleta de Buey
Go big and order this 40-day dry-aged bone-in rib eye, which feeds two to four and comes with charred ramps and bone-marrow kabayaki.
The Dish: Ramp Dumplings
Sure, you've had pasta with sautéed ramps — but how about Thai-inspired ramp-stuffed dumplings with soy reduction and pickled long chilies?