By Hillary Latos
From neighborhood hideaways to splashy new openings, New York City’s culinary scene never sleeps. The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate and enjoy some of NYC’s finest offerings spanning the melting pot of flavors that we have come to love in our great city, from the classics like French, Italian, American to the exotic flavors of India, here are some of our favorites that will guarantee an unforgettable dining experience.
The Water Club
After a year post Hurricane Sandy, The Water Club, has reopened to its former grandeur. With its romantically lit waterfront location offering unsurpassed views of the New York skyline and East river, this New York institution has served as a destination to celebrate special occasions for its loyal patrons over the last 30 years. The classic yet contemporary American menu befits the celebratory moments in our lives with offerings such as an extensive raw bar along with perfectly executed seafood such as spicy seared tuna, steamed lobster and meat dishes such as double cut stuffed pork chops. For those in the know mention “Gael Sent Me” and enjoy a ‘surf and turf’ special with a half lobster & sirloin with two sides for only $35. During the warmer months, The Crow’s Nest on the upper deck offers outdoor dining and weekly barbecues for one of the liveliest happy hours in town against a breathtaking backdrop.
The Water Club
East River between 29 & 32 St.
Villard Michel Richard
After experiencing a $100 Million renovation the Palace Hotel has unveiled its latest landmark restaurant, Villard Michel Richard, with renowned chef Michel Richard at the helm. Known for his formal French haute cuisine, he partnered with Jeffrey Beers to keep the integrity of the landmarked gilded mansion that was once owned by railroad tycoon Henry Villard, and pays homage to its history with a lenticular hologram that morphs Mr. Villard with Mr. Richard bringing the past to the present as the backdrop to the bar. In the dining room the dramatic centerpiece is a clear floor to ceiling wine cellar for patrons to choose their vintage libations and the gallery features larger than life neon lit portraits of iconic Hollywood starlets from the past. To complete the total experience of power dining, Chef Richard displays his gastronomic talents and artistic vision with beautifully presented entrees in a resplendent setting.
Villard Michel Richard
455 Madison Ave.
After a successful run in the Flatiron district, restaurateur Avtar Walia has opened a Tribeca outpost serving fine Indian cuisine in a modern and striking setting. To give an airy feel to this two floor 11,000 square foot venue, there are over 100 feet of windows bringing the light and vibrancy of Tribeca into the restaurant. The elegant banquettes and diaphanous drapes lend warmth and intimacy to this aerie awash in a rich palette of bronze, copper, gray and olive. Classic Indian dishes from the Punjab region are infused with delicate and complex flavors in a range of vegetarian, seafood and meat options such as Chimbori Jalwa- crabmeat with madras curry, chilies, and scallions, tamarind scallops, bataki kosha- duck with mustard garam masala, and tangerine chutney, vegetarian curry stew, and of course their famous tandoori that features lamb, chicken, and sea bass. For lunch they offer a 4 course Executive menu at only $25 to fully explore their culinary range at a fraction of the price.
99 Hudson St.
Imagine having a favorite neighborhood bistro in Montmartre, which is what owner Bernard Ros had in mind when creating the Art Deco themed Paname, which is also slang for Paris. For over 30 years Ros ran French bistro Meli Melo on Madion Ave developing a steady following before losing his lease and moving to the Sutton Place area. A Parisian native, he’s in the restaurant business for the long run bringing his seasoned experience to deliver classic and familiar French comfort food with affordable prices to this side of the Atlantic with uncomplicated dishes like Seafood bouillabase, Mediterranean sauteed cod, and crème brule that are as authentic and unadulterated as dining in the Quartier Latin. A one man show, Bernard keeps his standards high and personally shops for all the provisions daily, prepares the recipes, and also works as the pastry chef to ensure that everything is created exactly as it would be in his own home.
1068 Second Ave.
Like the Indian long pepper it is named for, Pippali, has a distinctive, unique and memorable flavor –spicy, tangy and sweet at the same time- which can also describe the latest venture from Chef Peter Beck and Pradeep Shinde located in the heart of Curry Hill. Their goal was to take a modern approach to a pan Indian cuisine and offer the exotic presentation at affordable prices. Start with the multi textured Papri Chat that features crisps topped with potatoes, chickpeas and tamarind sauce or the Kekkada Thokku with crab meat, mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and garlic. Tempting entrees include the vegetarian Jaipura Kofta with pumpkin and chickpea dumplings in a masala sauce, tandoori sea bass in a curry sauce, or Neer Dosa- crepes filled with mango chutney topped with mixed seafood. Now diners can take a culinary adventure throughout India in the comfort of Murray Hill.
129 East 27 St.
Named after a city in Northern India, Benares focuses on the lush spices and abundant variety of Indian cuisine. Acclaimed Indian chef Peter Beck partnered with restaurateur Inder Singh to bring some of their favorite regional dishes from the Western State of Utter Pradesh to NYC’s Midtown West that specializes delectable vegetarian dishes but also offers tempting seafood and meat specialties. Signature dishes include the Sevai Tomato Kurma with mussels, scallops, shrimp, and crab claws in a garlic tomato sauce, Iggaru Roya- prawns simmered in star anise, tamarind and coconut, and tandoori hen. The exotic cuisine pairs perfectly with their robust libations created by mixologist Jeff Bartels who has created signature classics with a twist such as tequila with roasted pineapple, orange liqueur and chili grenadine. Highlighting the rich Indian heritage and culture in a warm and intimate atmosphere, plush banquettes and dark wood tables are surrounded by walls adorned with opulently embroidered Indian saries from the region.
240 West 56 St.
With its charming West Village corner spot, owner and chef Maurizio Crescenzo brings a slice of Sicily to NYC. To remind patrons of the country he loves so much, photos of his village and Portofino adorn the walls in this inviting trattoria with oversized bay windows. Staying true to the traditional cooking methods that have been passed down for generations, nearly every dish goes through the word burning oven that combines the flavors to perfection. Some of the must order entrees are the thin crusted margarita pizza with buffala mozzarella, insalata caprese with roasted tomatoes, polenta crusted salmon, lamb shank with a caramelized red wine reduction, fresh squid ink pasta with seafood and a spicy tomato sauce, and of course a classic tiramisu. For lunch or dinner, this neighborhood spot is one of the West Village’s best kept secret.
21 Greenwich Ave.
Paradise Biriyani Pointe
Touted as the “Best Biryani in the USA,” with specialties in Moghlai and Tandoor food, Paradise Biryani has over 40 locations in 16 states. Entrepreneur Raj Gowlikar brought his favorite Indian dish- Biriyani that is comprised of basmati rice, Indian spices, and meat or vegetables to the mainstream with his first Edison, NJ flagship that quickly expanded nationwide, including its lively and casual Manhattan outpost located in the heart of Curry Hill. The spices remain a family secret and the toppings range from spicy and tangy to pan Asian to rich and flavorful, all tailored to suit individual palettes. Specialties include the biriyani that uses 30 Indian spices, chicken paneer cooked in butter, curry, goat cooked in exotic spices, and classics like Vindaloo and spicy tandoori that can be made with fish, goat, chicken, shrimp, paneer or vegetarian. With so many delicious choices available there are plenty of reasons to come back for more.
Paradise Biriyani Pointe
77 Lexington Ave.
Smith’s Bar & Restaurant
For nearly 60 years, the landmark neon sign outside Smith’s Bar & Restaurant in New York City’s storied Theatre District has been synonymous with live music, entertainment and hospitality. Drawn by its lively crowd, indulgent fare, liberal happy hour drink specials and its proximity to iconic Times Square and Broadway theatres, New Yorkers and tourists alike have returned to this time-honored establishment year after year. Whether you’re looking for an after work drink or a pre-theater bite, hoping to catch a game, see a live band or sing a tune over the bar’s karaoke system, there’s always a reason to stop into to Smith’s.
A friendly neighborhood bar, Smith’s invites guests inside to enjoy its warm, welcoming atmosphere. The large windows looking out onto bustling 8th avenue offer a show of their own, providing a great opportunity to people watch. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy Smith’s panorama of 14 large screen HD-ready televisions displaying every major sporting event. The friendly staff at Smith’s is happy to accommodate channel requests, so there’s no fear of missing a second of the sporting action. In addition, a dartboard is placed in the rear of the restaurant, which makes for a perfect distraction during a half-time lull.
Smith’s Bar & Restaurant
701 8th Ave.