Reserve one of the eight or so nightly seats at Kappo, the month-old tasting dinner at David Chang's Má Pêche, and you might get an unexpected phone call from a stranger. But before you block Chef Paul Carmichael, you should know that he's a pleasant, enthusiastic guy who's calling only to glean your likes and dislikes in food and drink—intel that will inform a leisurely 10-course meal, matched with customized beverages if you choose, that Will4Food describes on Chowhound as an eater's adventure, "a parade of exotic, flavorful, and quirky dishes." READ MORE
Rejecting the something-for-everyone approach of many Korean restaurants, Hanjoo ("Han Joo" on the sign out front) in Queens focuses on what it does best: samgyupsal (pork belly) barbecued on a crystal grill. Chowhound Lau approves. "I love specialist restaurants," he says, "because you know exactly what you’re going for and you know they are going to make it well." READ MORE
With their fresh, respectful, and sometimes playful take on Italian-American food, the guys behind Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm have made red sauce cool. Now they're taking it retro and upmarket at two-week-old Carbone. The idea, as Chef Mario Carbone describes it, is "midcentury Italian-American fine dining."
The first Chowhound dispatch suggests they've nailed it. READ MORE
If you look past Nasha Rasha's proud displays of Soviet Army kitsch—and you should, if you'd prefer not to dwell on the wrenching struggles of the 20th century over your vodka and caviar—you'll find a surprisingly strong kitchen that shows a sure hand with classic Russian comfort food. On Chowhound, sea97horse recommends meltingly tender golubtsi (stuffed cabbage), juicy, ravioli-like pelmeni filled with lamb, and pan-fried potatoes with mushrooms, among other things. READ MORE
Big Sister Zhu—whose gutsy Sichuan cooking once captivated food-court crawlers in Flushing, Queens—is back in business, having graduated to a full restaurant kitchen. She's just overhauled the formerly Shanghainese menu at Flushing's Prince Noodle House, which kept its old English name but is now known in Chinese as Lao (Old) Chengdu, scoopG reports on Chowhound. READ MORE
Another pizza, another margherita or pepperoni pie? It doesn't have to be that way, not in Manhattan these days.
One place to avoid the topping rut is Kesté, where the special combos include a cod, garlic, and tomato pie—surprisingly terrific, wewwew says on Chowhound. Among Kesté's other 'hound-endorsed Neapolitan pies, the DavyTheFatBoy-approved Padrino: soppressata, Gaeta olives, basil, olive oil, and tomato sauce, distinguished by excellent Ragusano caciocavallo from Sicily (he finds it every bit as satisfying minus the meat). READ MORE
Pastrami fans have been scrambling for fresh options since one of their go-to spots, Sarge's Deli, was sidelined by a fire in November. Chowhound lemarais offers one: Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side. Its pastrami on rye is "WONDERFUL!"—more than a pound of moist, thick-cut meat on terrific bread. READ MORE
If it's March, this must be Umbria. That's the current stop on the itinerary at Pranzo, a restaurant at the Italian food emporium Eataly that rewrites its menu each month to spotlight specialties from a different region of the country.
It's a trip worth taking, says ttoommyy, a Chowhound who lunched there in February, when the flavors of the month were Calabrian. Everything hit the spot: a salad of braised octopus and calamari with fingerlings, chiles, and pickled onion; white bean and escarole zuppa, drizzled with Calabrian olive oil; house-made scialatielli pasta with mussels, white wine, jalapeño, and marjoram; and fried Dover sole (pictured) with Meyer lemon, shaved fennel, olives, capers, and limoncello. "There was not one false note in the whole meal," ttoommyy marvels. "All was simply prepared and absolutely delicious." Among this month's Umbrian dishes are pan-seared fish with roasted potatoes and pickled vegetables, and strangozzi pasta with mushrooms, pancetta, tomato, and pecorino. READ MORE