Genaro Morales is no stranger to New York's restaurant scene; his first Puerto Rican restaurant, Sofrito, still draws diners to its midtown Manhattan and White Plains locations. Sazon marks Morales's first venture into the crowded, hip market of downtown eateries, and he's already made his mark, attracting celebrity patrons such as Adrian Grenier. The authentic Caribbean dishes, such as mofongo and ropa vieja, earned a rating of "very good to excellent" from Zagat as well as a spot on Gotham magazine's list of must-visit Tribeca eateries.
Inside the two-story establishment, multitiered chandeliers and bright orange quilted walls bathe diners in a warm glow. The curvaceous bar wends serpent-like through one end of the space, covered in small tiles patterned to resemble snakeskin. Behind the scenes, chefs stuff plantains with beef picadillo or grill up slabs of spicy churrasco sausage to complement fruits of the sea such as calamari, shrimp, and red snapper.
There may not be any actual mud in Mudville 9 Saloon, but there's still a good chance that you'll leave messy. The neighborhood bar and grill is known for its traditional and boneless chicken wings, which tend to leave trails of sauce-stained napkins in their wake. Both wing styles are served with a choice of 11 different sauces, ranging from sweet teriyaki to traditional buffalo, the latter of which is available in four levels of spiciness. Start with the mild before working up to the Super Wow, which the menu warns is for “professionals only.” Wings aren’t all that Mudville 9 has going for it. With 24 beers on tap at any given time and more than 76 others in bottles, the saloon has earned its reputation as a destination for craft brews. Local breweries, such as Brooklyn’s Sixpoint, regularly stop by for tasting events, and sometimes they even leave behind a keg or two for customers to enjoy or ride down Niagara Falls. The bar's rustic wood decor makes it the perfect spot to hunker down with a beer flight on a cold winter’s night or to take in the latest sports broadcast on one of 15 flat-screen televisions.
Kutsher's Country Club became a regional icon in the decades following its founding in 1907. And as a fourth-generation member of the family behind the Catskill resort, Zach Kutsher looked to carry on its legacy by opening Kutsher's Tribeca, a restaurant specializing in traditional Jewish cooking with a modern touch. Time Out New York praises this approach, noting how Executive Chef Mark Spangenthal "deftly [scours] Jewish culinary touchstones and [teases] grandeur from humble, familiar foods." This philosophy is readily apparent in bistro-style dishes such as house-smoked and -cured meats, matzo-crusted onion rings, and latkes topped with Peking duck and sesame-hoisin sauce. At the same time, some options remain true to their roots?reuben sandwiches on house-made rye, for example, or matzo ball soup made according to a time-honored family recipe.
The decor at Kutsher's Tribeca is as warm as its cuisine. The dining room features marble tabletops and neoclassical columns, an elegant contrast to mid-century touches such as geometric light fixtures and pipe-lined walls. That melding of styles is no accident?architect Rafael de Cardenas designed the restaurant to showcase elements of 1960s modernism while also honoring the inviting spirit of Kutsher?s Country Club. The combination of upscale refinement and traditional charm earned praise from The New York Times, which said, "[Kutsher's Tribeca has] got to be one of the least pretentious 'nice' restaurants to open in Manhattan in years."
Locanda Verde may not even need the buzz it generates from its personnel, which includes superstar chef Andrew Carmellini and backer Robert De Niro. That's because, as Travel + Leisure magazine put it, “It’s the inspired seasonal Italian menu that keeps locals coming back for seconds.” Carmellini’s lengthy menus—including a brunch selection that T+L named one of America’s 25 best in 2012—feature classics such as pancetta-wrapped veal, pappardelle in a hearty lamb Bolognese, and grandmother’s ravioli. This last plate may best encapsulate Carmellini's cooking style, since TimeOut New York once said the chef “cooks like an Italian grandmother—delivering simple food with so much heart, the recipe might’ve been passed down from a long line of great cooks.” Diners enjoy these dishes in a sprawling space with a stone fireplace, outdoor café seating, wine-bottle-lined bookshelves, and, at night, a bustling bar scene. Though the restaurant has an extensive wine list, guests can bring their own pours for an additional corkage fee, unless Uri Geller happens to be on hand to telepathically remove corks for free.
Patrons engage every sense at Twenty 20, savoring the scents and flavors of Spanish and Latin-American cuisine and following the upbeat sounds of salsa music to the dance floor. As the chefs spoon chimichurri sauce over grilled skirt steak and bake servings of saffron-scented paella, the bartenders deftly mix mojitos and pour sangria for thirsty crowds. Fueled with drinks and vibrant cuisine, guests quickstep past a kaleidoscopic wall mural and dance while DJs or live bands play pulse-quickening salsa hits and acoustic French lullabies. The restaurant encourages patrons to take the stage themselves on Thursdays when it hosts karaoke nights.
Concepts of pastoral and modern dining melt together in David Burke Kitchen's main dining room, which was designed by Thomas Schlesser, winner of a James Beard Foundation award for Best Restaurant Design. In an open kitchen, David Burke leads an adept staff—including executive chef Chris Shea—as they infuse the menu's locally sourced ingredients with artistic whimsy. At the center of the space, chefs deftly carve and plate duck, beef, blue-foot hens, whole roasted fish, and lobster, entertaining diners as they await their cuisine. At tables, blue-checkered napkins call to mind a slow-paced rural feast; after meals, contented sighs float up to the rough-hewn wooden planks of the soaring ceiling.
A glass-enclosed wine cellar showcases bottles and satyrs' ineffectual heist plans beneath the cascades of light flowing in through an open skylight. Cocktails ring festively in toasts in the lofted Treehouse Bar, which parks patrons at counter seats overlooking Sixth Avenue. The staff also hosts special events nearly every night of the week, whether it's a Sunday suckling-pig roast or a Thursday-night live DJ at the Treehouse Bar.