In his first appearance as an executive chef, the food Nahid Ahmed crafts at Respite is derived from a lifetime of experiences, not least of which are his culinary training in Switzerland and New York and mentoring by renowned chef Gray Kunz. He calls on this culinary pedigree to forge modest plates of contemporary fare inspired by every inch of the globe. After electing a libation from the extensive cocktail menu or wine list, diners can nosh on such servings as scallop ceviche served in Chinese soup spoons, lavender-spiced duck, and coconut-mascarpone panna cotta in a saffron-lemongrass broth for dessert. The eatery’s cream-colored walls and ceiling, diffused lighting, and dark wood stools create a relaxing atmosphere for those––as the name implies––on a culinary journey.
Drawn butter, double-smoked bacon, Indian curry garlic: in more than 20 specialty dishes, there are few ingredients the innovative chefs at Mussels & More haven't carefully paired with the restaurant's namesake bivalve. The additional fixings enhance the oceanic flavor of the protein-rich, low-fat mussels, which Mussels & More sources directly from Prince Edward Island. With its other catches, the culinary team crafts Maryland lump crab cakes and stuffs po'boys with hand-shucked oysters, whose pearls go to the sandwich's sworn enemy, wealthy'boys. Seafood alternatives include barbecue ribs and roasted chickens spiced with Jamaican jerk seasoning. Complemented by wine or beer from the bar, feasts can unfold on an outdoor patio in warm weather or year-round in a dining room of exposed brick and hardwood floors.
La Barrique's Belgian chef sustains a 60-year tradition of classic French bistro cuisine upon the polished tables of a café heralded by commanding crimson banners. Rich French recipes guide his hands as he bastes escargot in garlic and parsley butter or a plate of mussels with one of four homemade sauces. Paneled in dark wood and accented by red drapes, napkins, and seat cushions, the romantic café glows with light reflecting from the bar's tin ceiling and displays filled with a curated selection of organic French and international wines. The European dining destination—located near Times Square, Bryant Park, Penn Station, and Midtown's theater district—is snugly nestled between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in New York's fashion district, making it a prime spot for people watching or literally romancing a skirt.
Peri Wine Bar curates a varied stock of quality vintages, serving them by the glass and bottle, alongside a menu of light fare. Rows of obsidian and amber bottles perch on hardwood shelves hanging from the rustic brick walls, their fragrant contents sourced from wineries across the world. Beneath hanging chandeliers, patrons divvy up gourmet pizzas, salads, and appetizers, emerging from a kitchen that remains open until the last, bleary-eyed call of the night. The bar hosts live music, DJs, jazz, and dancing during the course of the week, and the in-house WiFi pipes in with pairing recommendations and aerates chardonnays with essence of funny-cat videos.
Gooey mozzarella melts over classic pies in a Neapolitan-style brick oven at Zigolinis Pizza Bar, which melds the atmosphere of a modern bar with rustic cuisine. The friendly staff dishes a variety of drinks, and expert chefs wield an arsenal of products imported weekly from Naples, as well as fresh produce plucked from local farmers, to forge a menu of authentic Italian fare. Garden noshers plunge forks through the leafy greens pervading a trio of small and large salads. Pepperoni rains across the shores of the diavola pizza, which slays slice-craving appetites alongside 14 other signature pies, including the cheese-laden seven formaggi pizza. Those shunning sauce can turn to the vegetariana, adorned with seasonal vegetables, or the ai carciofi e tartufo, garnished with high-end truffle oil and shaved pecorino romano. Flickering TVs glint off glasses brimming robust red and white wines in the intimate eatery, as bartenders sling imported and domestic beers from gushing taps flecked with frothy foam and liquefied laughter.
A perfectly cast spot for a pre- or post-theater meal thanks to its prime location, Montenapo takes its name from a stylish Milan thoroughfare. Start a tour of chef Carlo Apolloni's pan-Italian menu with antipastos such as filet mignon carpaccio with polenta tuile and arugula ($18) and polipetti alla griglia (grilled octopus with frisse salad, fennel, and fava beans) ($19). Ravioli d’ aragosta comes stuffed with lobster and brandy-paprika sauce ($28), and the ravioli di fagiano and scamorzza affumicata contains poach guinea hen and pecorino tuscano ($26). For a different permutation of pasta, try the paccheri ($20), which partners tubular noodles with cherry tomatoes and n'duja Calabria sausage. Shepherds can send disobedient followers a deliciously menacing message with Costolette d’agnello (Colorado rack of lamb) ($35) or curry favor with the flock by ordering a bistecca Newyorchese a 16-ounce grilled sirloin steak with braised endive and potato cake ($45). Montenapo's full bar slings specialty cocktails to keep thirsts on the defensive and, and the 23-foot-high ceilings paired with floor-to-ceiling windows give claustrophobic taste buds ample space and natural light in which to relax.