Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most-talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York City. The list below features spots both new and old ranked according to one important, ever-fluctuating (and admittedly subjective) metric: Who has the most buzz? Perhaps a famed chef has taken over the kitchen, or there’s a new dish you absolutely must order. Maybe the restaurant is just brand-new, or the critics are raving about it. Whatever the reasons, these are the hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Via Carota (New this week)
You are going to go to this new Grove Street Italian-y spot from Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, and you will no doubt be as charmed as you were the first time you went to Buvette or I Sodi. The bunless burger is the early star, but for Grub’s money, the fried rabbit — served on a crispy piece of garlic toast — is the breakout dish that will be bringing us back soon.
2. Little Park (Last week: 2)
Andrew Carmellini & Co. hit the ground running with their new farm-to-table spot in Tribeca (and its accompanying cocktail lounge, Evening Bar). As you might expect from one of Carmellini’s menus, all of the composed dishes are well executed, especially a crimson risotto infused with beets and a more or less perfect duck-breast entrée. You’ll almost certainly want to get cinnamon-toast ice cream for dessert, too.
3. wd~50 (1)
The chances are low that you’ll be able to score a ticket to one of Wylie Dufresne’s blowout dinners as his restaurant hits the home stretch of its existence, but wd~50 is getting a nod on the Power Rankings because the restaurant did release a few day-of tickets earlier this week, and — who knows? — maybe they’ll do it again. Keep a close eye on Twitter, just in case.
4. Cosme (3)
Enrique Olvera’s much-anticipated upscale Mexican restaurant officially opened its doors last month — and seats are as in-demand as you might expect. The early response has been extremely positive, too, and if the formal reviews follow that trend expect it to be even more difficult to get a table here.
5. Upland (5)
This week’s New Yorker includes an early — and extremely positive — write-up of this new spot from Justin Smillie and Stephen Starr. Puffy-crusted pizza, a great selection of pastas, and a dish or two that Smillie has brought with him from his Il Buco Alimentari days (including the massive, and delicious, short rib for two) are all outstanding.
6. Shuko (New this week)
A new kaiseki spot from the Masa alumni who first made a name for themselves at Neta? That’s the story on this brand-new Union Square restaurant. Sushi fiends will almost certainly want to check it out, if they haven’t already.
7. Dirty French (8)
Is the lightly toasted flatbread served at the start of each meal here among the best restaurant-bread options in New York? Grub Street says oui. And this week Adam Platt offered his opinion: He didn’t love everything, but he found enough to enjoy to endorse a visit — especially if you stick to the appetizers and desserts.
8. Brodo/Hearth (6)
Chef Marco Canora managed to open his takeout broth operation at the exact moment when the world went through a full-on broth renaissance. As a frigid week comes to an end, now is the time to go grab a warm cup of Canora’s brodo.
9. Bowery Meat Company (7)
It’s probably not surprising that chef Josh Capon’s burger is a must-order at his new steakhouse (he also runs a burger restaurant, after all), but it’s still worth mentioning because the just-funky-enough, raclette-topped version served at BMC really is a paragon of the form. Word on the street is that the duck lasagna for two is another winner.
10. Almanac (New this week)
Are you ready for a “micro-seasonal” restaurant? That’s the theme of the large tasting room that chef Galen Zamarra has opened in the Seventh Avenue space that formerly housed the awkwardly named Mas (la grillade). The food looks suitably exacting, and we’ve seen that New York diners are open to the idea of pulchritudinous dining, so this could be one to keep an eye on.
11. Marta (9)
Danny Meyer and chef Nick Anderer’s new Italian spot is basically a celebration of fire: the massive pizza ovens, the roaring wood grill. But the kitchen uses all that heat expertly and consistently turns out some of the best food Grub’s had all year. And now, at breakfast, they’re even offering wood-fired pancakes. Yes.
12. Cherche Midi (Off last week)
Bloomberg’s Tejal Rao checked out Keith McNally’s Bowery spot and liked what she found. In fact, a Grub Street spot check this week revealed a room even more jammed than it was when it opened this summer — and the food and service have gotten better, too. The prime rib and the burger are as fantastic as ever, but don’t overlook the surprisingly great daily specials — excellent braised leg of lamb with yogurt and chickpeas on Grub’s most recent visit.
13. Semilla (10)
The Chez José pop-up has become a full-blown brick-and-mortar tasting counter (with a new name) in Williamsburg. It’s a $75 veg-focused prix fixe, with natural wines and European beers to match. This one sounds like it has potential. Word is trickling out, so Grub’s advice is to get over there ASAP.
14. Torrisi Italian Specialties (Off last week)
The Torrisi guys are rejiggering their original restaurant and will close the current iteration at the end of the year. Stop in while it still exists and, as you eat, ponder what we’re all going to call the Torrisi guys when there’s no more Torrisi restaurant.
15. Take Root (12)
How hard does the duo behind this restaurant work? Even the chef’s “day off” is busier than most other people’s standard workdays. (That’s what happens when the owners are also the restaurant’s only two staffers.) Whatever they’re doing, it’s effective. Every seat is filled every night they’re open, which means if you want to go, you’ll have to plan accordingly.
16. Marco’s (Off last week)
The Franny’s offshoot apparently hasn’t been a big hit, and it will close in the next couple of weeks. Grub would say that this trattoria is not without its charms, so even though it’s unclear at the moment what owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg plan to do with the space, you may want to swing by for at least some aperitivi before it’s gone.
17. Vic’s (15)>
Vicki Freeman and her chef-husband Marc Meyer recently opened their Five Points redo, and the early word is that it’s as comfortably appealing as their other restaurants. Hillary Sterling’s menu is sort of vaguely Italian in that downtown-Manhattan farm-to-table sort of way, which isn’t a bad thing at all, especially when that results in a dish like pork sausage with plum mostarda and salsa verde.
18. Aquavit (16)
The midtown Scandinavian spot is in the middle of a full-scale revival thanks to the skill of chef Emma Bengsstona and a recent string of glowing praise that began when Michelin dropped a surprise — and, it seems, absolutely deserving — second star on the institution.
19. King Bee (20)
Recently, on 9th Street, Eben Klemm and partner Ken Jackson opened a new spot specializing in Acadian food. What is Acadian food? Well, it’s sort of Cajun and even has some Nordic similarities, but mostly it just looks fairly delicious — especially those pork cracklings.
20. Cafe Edison (13)
The cries to save this Times Square relic are getting louder, but it remains to be seen if those cries will eventually fall on deaf ears. If the diner does close at the end of the year, as it’s supposed to, the magicians will need to find somewhere else to go.