Tips for breaking out of your foodie rut
Keste is a great, lesser-known alternative to Di Fara.
Chef Mike Colameco trained at the Culinary Institute of America and is the author of “Mike Colameco’s Food Lover’s Guide to NYC,” so he knows his way around Gotham’s restaurants.
We asked Colameco, who also hosts “Colameco’s Food Show” on PBS, to recommend worthy alternatives to classic New York eateries.
If you’ve tried Di Fara … check out Keste
While Midwood’s Di Fara is a city treasure, the West Village’s Keste Pizza E Vino (271 Bleecker St.) is another Colameco favorite. “It’s real, classic Neapolitan pizza,” he said. “There’s a wood-fired oven and super quality ingredients,” Colameco said. Pies range from $9 to $19. He also gave a shout-out to the pies at John’s Pizzeria, located across the street, which he said “doesn’t get enough respect.”
If you’ve already done Nobu … try Sushi Yasuda
Colameco highly recommends modern midtowner Sushi Yasuda (204 E. 43rd St.). “That’s amazing sushi. It’s probably on everyone’s top-five list,” he said. “But really good fish is expensive.” But Sushi Yasuda does offer $22.50 dinner prix-fixes that are hard to beat. Sushi connoisseurs often opt to sit at the bar and let Chef Naomichi Yasuda do his thing.
If you love Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien … try The Little Owl
The incredibly popular burger at Le Parker Meridien hotel’s Burger Joint is hardly the only game in town. “I think Joey Campanaro’s burger at The Little Owl (90 Bedford St.) is one of the best. The meat is perfect, the homemade bun is great.” Note that the $16 burger, made with meat from LaFrieda and topped with bacon that’s hand-cut in house, is only available for lunch and during weekend brunches. For a few extra bucks, Colameco said, go try the burger at Telepan on the Upper West Side.
If you dig Peter Luger’s … eat at Keens
While Colameco admitted he’s never understood the allure of Peter Luger (“When Frank Bruni gave it two stars I almost threw the paper out.”), he really loves Keens Steakhouse (72 W. 36th St.). “It’s such a cool historic place, and man, it is crazy good,” he said. For a splurge he also mentioned Craftsteak (“though it’s super-expensive”), BLT Prime, Minetta Tavern, Ben Benson’s Steakhouse. Also, often overlooked, he said, is City Hall Restaurant.
If you adore Katz’s … consider Carnegie Deli
“Katz’s is a glorified sandwich joint,” Colameco said. He suggested Carnegie (854 Seventh Ave.). “It has a bigger menu and the sandwiches are among the best in the city. He cures his own pastrami and meats. Another place he said he likes is Murray Hill’s Sarge’s, but he lamented, “In a city with two million Jewish people, how do we not have more delis?”
Q and A with Colameco:
amNewYork spoke to food guru Mike Colameco about the city’s dining scene.
Is New York City still the restaurant capital of the world?
I think more so than ever. I have foodie friends that argue Tokyo’s as good. People will argue that London’s as good. I think what makes New York stand out is that the culinary scene is a reflection of what the city is. It’s a town with so many passports.
When I started, in the 1980s, what they were doing in Europe was miles apart from us. Our ingredients have come so far. And we have a whole generation of new talents who have come here to cook.
It’s a misnomer that New York is an expensive place to eat. I live in Cape May, N.J. — that’s expensive eating. Here you can eat for $20-$30 with wine too.
You didn’t include the outer boroughs in “Mike Colameco’s Food Lover’s Guide to NYC.” Why not?
It would look like the phone book if I did.
But the scene in Brooklyn is incredible. One of the great things that happened in this decade is as Manhattan priced people out for living, with them, chefs came too. Queens also. It gets no respect, but it has some of the best food out there.
What’s the most interesting thing going on in the industry right now?
What’s happening, and what’s been happening for a while, is there’s so much talent, so many good young chefs out there who have worked for Jean Georges, Daniel Boulud and others. They’ve have done their homework, and when the time came to open their own places, they opened, more casual places like Prune, Little Owl, Dell’anima. There’s a move away from fine dining.
Also a broader trend was the movement downtown. Back when I came to town restaurants were all midtown and uptown, now it’s younger, and more casual. Restaurants are places for nights out. The dress code’s gone. This is a trend that will continue. Especially in this economy.