Not only is Le Bernardin one of only six restaurants that currently boast a four-star rating from the New York Times but it has also received that honor every time it’s been reviewed since opening in 1986. Under the direction of Eric Ripert, who has been the executive chef here for 18 years, the constantly evolving menu dives deeply into one thing: sustainable seafood, with the majority of dishes divided into three sections. Under Almost Raw, patrons have found thinly shaved geoduck clam capped with osetra caviar, and Barely Touched offerings have included baby sepia crusted with herbs and served with sweet pepper jam. When it comes to the Lightly Cooked main courses, Eric has prepared crispy black bass paired with a roasted-shishito-and-acorn-squash “ceviche." With 24 hours' notice, he may bake a whole red snapper with an herbes de provence crust, enough to serve two people or one well-mannered pelican. Le Bernardin also offers nightly tasting menus, presenting whole tables with a collection of roughly seven or eight dishes matched with optional wine pairings. Those looking for a more modest, casual meal opt for a seat in the lounge, where craft cocktails pair with small plates such as tuna tartare or warm lobster en brioche. True to its mission of offering sustainable food, Le Bernardin's lounge also offers a three-course prix fixe lunch, with partial proceeds going to benefit City Harvest––a nonprofit dedicated to collecting surplus food from all aspects of the food industry and delivering it to those in need.
Over a plate of fresh Maine lobster that they brought back to the city themselves, husband-and-wife duo Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich wondered aloud, “Why doesn’t someone in New York start a fresh-seafood business?” Their destiny as restaurateurs was realized the moment those words were uttered: they opened Red Hook Lobster Pound a mere six months later. Gorham began traveling to Maine every weekend, scoping out catches and making deals with fisherman, choosing only those that partook in environmentally sustainable practices. Meanwhile, Povich experimented with recipes in order to add to an already lengthy repertoire of lobster-based recipes she learned while growing up in the Northeast. Word of mouth helped spark interest in their eatery, and before long, the demand compelled them to expand their storefront to include a picnic-style dining room. They’ve even added a food truck––nicknamed "Big Red"––that brings lobster-based dishes to diners across the city. According to The New York Times, success has had little effect on Red Hook Lobster Pound’s menu: “It tastes as fresh as can be, which matters when you’re dealing with a trend that’s growing so fast.” Their lobster rolls—served on split-top buns and garnished with just enough homemade mayo—have been lauded by Zagat, Bloomberg News, and Gourmet.com. Other popular dishes include lobster bisque, lobster mac-n-cheese, and a lobster dinner, served with homemade coleslaw, potato salad, and fresh, lake-caught corn.
At Pescatore, chef Kenneth Johnson and his team honor the deceptive simplicity of Italian cuisine's commitment to culinary fundamentals. The restaurant's menus showcase the importance of using a base of simple, vibrant ingredients, then adding flair and complexity. This is evident in dishes such as the eatery's ricotta appetizer, which is accented by chives, hazelnuts, clover honey, and mint, and its roasted red- and yellow-beet salad, dotted with pickled shallots and dressed with champagne-honey vinaigrette.
Competing on a National Stage
Whether he's cooking for a crowd of diners or competing on national television, Johnson uses basic techniques to craft delicious dishes. So, when faced with the daunting task of preparing a dessert using spiral ham, spiced rum, green plantains, and water chestnuts, he created a traditional streusel. Sticking to a straightforward dessert netted Johnson a first-place finish on the Food Network's Chopped?his second victory in as many appearances.
Key Ingredients at Pescatore
The chefs at The Eastern Pearl may specialize in gourmet Cantonese dishes, but they don't always limit themselves to the flavors of South China. An expansive menu celebrates the diversity in Cantonese food while also drawing from other regions of China and Hong Kong, and spices are used only in moderation to put the focus on the meats and vegetables. Chicken, beef, pork, and fish are the focal points of colorful plates ranging in flavor from sweet and sour to bold and spicy. House specialties, meanwhile, include a massive peking duck platter and flaming prawns that can be used to light romantic candles. And it isn't just the cuisine that pays tribute to other cultures: lavish interiors whisk diners away to warmer climes with accents of saffron and red. Thin dark-wood partitions with geometric designs divide the booths, and replicas of the famous Qin terracotta warriors stand guard on one wall.
The Original Crab Shack hauls in fresh fish, crab, lobster, shrimp, and clams every day from the ports of Boston Harbor, often getting the seafood in less than 12 hours after it comes off the boats. In the kitchen, cooks transform the catches into seafood through the power of steam or a fryer, filling pots with clams and lobster or baskets with tender fried shrimp and clam strips. Behind their full bar, which is decorated with fairy lights and nautical décor such as anchors, cheery bartenders pour beers or wine and mix specialty cocktails. Light blue walls, punctuated with Cape Cod–style windows, surround the interior of Crab Shack, which is filled with small tables as well as two 10-seater farm tables in the center of the room.
Viru Restaurant demonstrates its authentic Peruvian roots with a wide variety of traditional dishes. Causa rellena de camarones satisfies bellies with shrimp, as long as those bellies like their shrimp hiding inside chilled mashed potatoes that are spiced up with lime and yellow chili ($12). The parihuela, a soupy sea of seafood cooked with white wine, spices, and panca chili, moisturizes parched stomachs with a torrential downpour of flavor ($24). Representing the eternal battle between land and sea, the bisteck a la chorrillana—a grilled New York steak with a sauce made of panca chili, onions, and tomatoes ($24)—wields haricots verts clubs against the pescado sudado, the fish of the day poached in seafood broth and herbs ($19). Placing a comforting cap on dinner, flan reminds diners of former days when sweet, creamy desserts grew everywhere all the time and only cost a nickel ($6). In addition to edibles, Viru Restaurant nourishes guests at the bar, which stocks its shelves with an impressive supply of domestic and imported beers, sangria, wines, and chicha, a drink made of fermented maize.