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 reason, these are the 12 hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Rezdôra (Last week: 3)
Chef Stefano Secchi’s Flatiron restaurant opened relatively quietly back in May. Based on a couple of mid-week visits, during which the narrow, two-level dining room has always been packed, it’s safe to say word has gotten out. Pastas, especially, benefit from the kitchen’s technical precision, which gets showcased in, for example, a dish called “grandma walking through forest in emilia” (go with it), a stuffed-pasta ode to warm-weather vegetables served on a swoosh of mushroom purée. Pastry chef Jessica Quinn’s straightforward, but absolutely perfect desserts — gelato duos, for example — are another highlight.
2. Red Hook Tavern (New this week)
On Van Brunt Street, Hometown Bar-B-Que’s Billy Durney has opened his ode to classic New York bars and taverns that should appeal to — [checks notes] — every single person alive. There are burgers and natural wine, steak fries and actual steak, and the kind of ye olde charm that makes everyone want to become a regular.
3. LaLou (2)
Speaking of good places to become a regular: At this new Prospect Heights wine bar from Joe Campanale and chef Ashley Rath, the vibe is chill, the drinks are always interesting, and the menu — where you’ll find delicate potato dumplings under a cover of greens and herbs, a lovely little bowl of summer zucchini, and fried olives that should begin every meal, ever — is firmly dialed in to crowd-pleaser mode.
4. Arcade Bakery (1)
Everyone needs to go to Roger Gural’s extremely charming, always-excellent Tribeca bakery as much as possible before it closes for summer vacation in August. We’re talking about making it lines-down-the-street popular, because (a) it very much deserves that level of popularity, and (b) it will hopefully convince a buyer (or multiples) to take it over, so that it doesn’t shutter forever.
5. The Fulton (10)
What does our critic Adam Platt — “who can count on one hand the number of decent seafood restaurants that have opened around the city in the past decade or so” — have to say about Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new Seaport seafood spot? It’s quite good, and the chef’s ability to add his own sense of finesse to various trends serves him quite well at this particular — there’s no other word for it — “concept.”
6. Babs (New this week)
Opening on MacDougal this very evening is the follow-up to Soho’s Mimi, a restaurant that opened with a bang, fell into something of a fallow period, and then found its groove again after the arrival of chef Efrén Hernández. He’s in the kitchen here, as well, and the focus is on grilling — asparagus, sea bream, lobster, ribeye, you name it — and the energy is distinctly European.
7. Belle Harlem (Off last week)
This is awesome: Times critic Pete Wells drops a star on this 275 square-foot, three-year-old restaurant from a couple named Melissa and Darryl Burnette, where Darryl does all the cooking in the back of the bar, and Melissa runs the “front of the house,” which is really just the part of the bar that’s closer to the door. Wells writes of his recent meals, ” I never quite felt as if I were attending a dinner party in the Burnettes’ apartment, which is the feeling they say they’re going for, but I always knew I was in a place that somebody cared about.”
8. FieldTrip (6)
Also in Harlem, chef J. J. Johnson — whose other restaurant, Henry, mysteriously closed this week — is adding something new to the fast-casual mix: a bowl spot where the focus is very much on heirloom rice that is “freshly milled, unbleached and not enriched,” and arrives in all sorts of menu options that are “influenced by global flavors and techniques used within various cultures.”
9. Red Paper Clip (New this week)
This under-the-radar West Village spot sounds like it has a lot of potential: A chef tag-team (who, combined, have spent time working at spots like Alinea, the Dutch, and Stone Barns), are mixing-and-matching techniques and ingredients from France, Japan, China, Italy, and, it seems, everywhere else, to offer an attractive take on traditional fine dining.
10. Bombay Bread Bar (Off last week)
Grub Street was very bummed this week to learn that chef Floyd Cardoz will close his corner restaurant in Soho, which never quite seemed to find the audience it deserved. Even still, the spot is not without its charms, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop in before it’s gone for good.
11. Bar Pisellino (5)
It’s an aperitivi bar from New York’s most acclaimed, popular West Village chef duo, Jody Williams and Rita Sodi. What’s not to like? Obviously it has been mobbed, and obviously it is very appealing.
12. Pastis (8)
It’s Pastis, reborn. You know it, you love it, and now it comes with the added bonus of being run by Stephen Starr’s company. Good luck getting a reservation!