Ah, the darling buds of May. And by buds, I mean… food. I partook in a few highly anticipated meals this past month, and was positively shook as experience after experience not only met, but exceeded all culinary expectations. From homemade pasta to Chinese dry pot (and you know there’s some coffee shops in there, too), here is the good, better, and best of my NYC restaurant adventures from the month of May.
Misi – The exceedingly-hyped follow-up to Lilia by chef Missy Robbins, Misi is a true love letter to the art of pasta-making. While Lilia does still maintain a slight edge for me, Misi was positively delightful. The space is bright and airy, the bar seating is fantastic, and I recommend lunch as the best time to come and get in without a reservation. The whipped-ricotta covered crostini with vinegary shishito peppers are fantastic (albeit a huge portion – you’ll need to share), and the fettucine with buffalo butter, parm, and black pepper is so decadent that I could not finish it on my own. By no means skip the gelato for dessert – it’s some of the best in NYC.
Ralph’s Coffee – The newly minted, second iteration of Ralph Lauren’s namesake coffee brand, Ralph’s has been reinvented and relocated to the 72nd Street flagship store location. It is the perfect place to stop in for a cold brew while shopping, and I love bringing out-of-towners here for a taste of the ever-chic Madison Avenue.
Mala Project – Chinese dry pot, you say? I had never heard of, nor experienced, this cuisine until dining at Mala Project. First off, the menu is extensive, but make sure that you save room for the namesake dry pot. We started with the dandan noodles (watch out, they’re HOT) and the cold eggplant with roasted garlic and both were incredibly flavorful. The dry pot itself is a communal dish where you select the ingredients (everything from bok choy to duck tongue) and it all gets cooked in a wok with Chinese spices and chiles and served in one giant bowl for the group. You can play it as safe or as wild as you please.
Bakeri – Officially my new favorite spot in Greenpoint, and perhaps one of my all-time favorite cafes in the city. Bakeri feels like the quintessential neighborhood spot, with a French country feel and fantastic, home-baked goods and coffee. Their homemade gluten-free granola is to die for (it comes on top of house-made labne), and don’t miss their olive oil orange cake as well.
Black Barn Cafe – Tucked away in Chelsea Market, Black Barn is attached to a homegoods shop by the same name, and everything in the space feels like an extension of the beautiful shop ambiance. The emphasis is on clean food on the farm to table side, and you can come here for dinner without feeling like it needs to be a cheat meal. My personal favorites were the portobello napoleon app and the pan-roasted artichoke hearts over eggplant hummus.
King – Although slightly innocuous and under the radar as far as West Village restaurants goes, King is nonetheless a worthwhile go-to to have on your list. It feels like a local-centric spot, and has menu items like crispy chickpea panisse bread, lemony scallops, and some of the best ice cream at an NYC restaurant at the moment (Misi is in good company this month). By only hindrance is that I do find it to be slightly overpriced, but the quality is there and the ambiance feels like classic West Village, which helps to offset value questions on my side.