Little Town NYC unabashedly hearts New York. Of its three restaurants, two are located in iconic Manhattan spots: one in Union Square, the other on Theater District’s Restaurant Row. Little Town’s fancy for the Empire State shines through on the menu, too, with homestyle dishes such as the Adirondack chicken pesto and an Angus beef burger topped with crispy Berkshire bacon. The Suburb Backyard BBQ platter is piled high with enough buffalo wings, Nathan's hot dogs, and other locally inspired fare to feed a family of four.
Little Town NYC also takes great pride in its beer list, which features more than 100 local brews, including IPAs and amber ales that hail from breweries in Long Island, Ithaca, and Saratoga Springs. At the Restaurant Row location, you can enjoy a pilsner from Coney Island while sitting in a booth constructed from the beach’s old wooden boardwalk.
Bitter & Esters brew maestros shepherd beer aficionados 21 and older through the basics of crafting their own libations during the two-hour introductory brewing courses. These knowledgeable instructors sprinkle their lessons with useful tidbits as their students immerse themselves in the process, communally brewing a bubbly batch of hops-laden liquid like witches on Super Bowl Sunday. Classes cover need-to-know facts about extracts, malts, grains, and yeasts as well as common trouble-shooting methods for when batches go awry. The hands on lesson includes all the necessary ingredients and reference materials required to whip up a hearty brew, with starter kits available for purchases if students want to continue fashioning beer in their home or underground speakeasies. Classes conclude with students sampling the fruits of previous home brewed labors, opening their taste buds to all the different possibilities craft beer making affords.
Philip Marie is a spacious but intimate restaurant, garnished with simple décor that pays homage to the American heartland, a theme also reflected in many of head chef and owner John Philip Greco III's recipes. The menu provides a multitude of creative takes on American classics to choose from. Lunch-hungry lunch-seekers may want to wet their lips over a bowl of butternut-squash soup ($4.95) served with cornbread crumbs. An overstuffed chicken potpie ($10.50) is a hearty classic, great for warming up chilly afternoons, while a pan-seared red-snapper filet ($11.50) in lemon-wine sauce, served with sautéed spinach and steamed broccoli, is a lighter choice, excellent for snappy dressers, finger-snapping street gangs, and cereal elves.
AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar uses cocoa like a magnet. Its 80% dark-chocolate ganache by Jacques Torres draws in connoisseurs while a cluster hazelnut by Xocolatti entices sweet teeth of all stripes. There's warm chocolate molten cake topped with ice cream to mix temperatures, Belgian chocolate-covered strawberries to mix sweets, and a raspberry-chocolate martini with Chambord and Kahlua to mix one indulgence with another.
Indulgence is the overarching theme at AYZA. More than 90 types of wine from Italy, Argentina, and Chile pair with chocolatey treats—wine coming by the glass or bottle; chocolate coming by the piece or as part of a cascading fondue fountain. For more tenacious hungers, imported cheeses pair with Mediterranean-style entrees of pan-roasted wild sea bass. To make these offerings even more romantic, the bar hosts a Sunday couples' night, when the staff sprinkles tables with rose petals instead of firmly platonic palm fronds.
The kid sister of popular spots Gruppo, Posto, and Vezzo, Spunto ups the ante on sibling rivalry by offering a wide range of toppings on its menu of super-thin, brick-oven fired pies. The El Greco is an artistic compilation of bell peppers, feta, tomatoes, olives, and onions ($11 for 9" pie, $22 for 16"), and the Shroomtown fulfills a fun girl's fantasy of fungi covered in creamy cheese and white truffle oil ($12/$24). Connoisseurs of custom pies will savor a build-your-own option ($6.50/$13+) that allows diners to take their fashionable fare from concept to creation by first choosing a base of marinara and cheese, pesto and cheese, or extra-virgin olive oil, as well as a regular or nine-grain organic crust (add $0.50/$1). Once your pizza is structurally sound, accessorize it with fresh, locally grown ingredients such as grilled zucchini, French goat cheese, homemade meatballs, Italian sausage, or grilled baby eggplant, cut down in the prime of its youth for your dietary enjoyment. Enticing salads are also available to satisfy insalata inclinations, with tasty concoctions such as the popular beet and goat cheese salad with roasted beets, pickled onions, and French goat cheese tossed with pistachios, orange zest, and garlicky vinaigrette on a bed of arugula ($8).