A Different Kind of Deli
Mile End Sandwich. If you’re pastramied out and have done Katz’s Deli to death, check out this stripped-down NoHo sandwich spot with a zigzagging communal table. The star of its menu? Montreal-inspired “smoked meat” (that’s brisket), carved to order and piled high on mustard-slathered rye. Montreal-style bagels, boats of poutine laden with gooey cheese curds, and a fried salami sandwich pay tribute to the region, too. 53 Bond St.; 212-529-2990.
Breakfast the French Way
Dominique Ansel Bakery. As pastry-world résumés go, it’s tough to beat Dominique Ansel’s—he spent six years at three-Michelin-starred Daniel and was at Fauchon (the Chanel of pastry shops) in Paris before that. His sliver of a SoHo cafe is lined with crisply packaged house-made macarons and meringues in a rainbow of colors. In the glass cases are slender black-and-white éclairs, wonderful almond croissants, and his masterpiece breakfast pastry, the DKA, which tastes like a cross between an ultra-buttery croissant and a sticky bun. The leafy back patio is a lovely place to enjoy one. 189 Spring St.; 212-219-2773.
The NoMad. Mad Men-era accoutrements—a dessert cart, a crudité plate—are brought into the 21st century at this plush, skylit hotel restaurant. You’ll likely see plenty of chef Daniel Humm’s famed $80 foie-gras-and-truffle-stuffed roast chickens being paraded through the atrium. But we were won over by his lighter fare, such as a salad of julienned snow peas, pancetta, and pecorino that was full of lemony brightness, and a delicate toss of tagliatelle with king crab. A word of caution: A Mediterranean joint in the East Village has the same name (but no affiliation)—we weren’t the first to get the addresses mixed up. The NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway (at 28th St.); 212-796-1500.
Dinner With a Group
Fatty ’Cue. The name gives you a clue that this dark, Southeast Asian-inspired den is filled with caloric indulgences. Plates of deep-fried bacon, chicken-fried rabbit, and smoked brisket with soft rolls and Gouda are made for sharing. Cocktails, such as the Chupacabra—tequila, chili-infused ginger liqueur, and watermelon juice—are excellent, but if you’re with a big group, bottle service might be the way to go: Order a bottle of booze and a bartender will use it to mix your drinks tableside. 50 Carmine St.; 212-929-5050.
Don Antonio by Starita. The theater district is packed with places to get a greasy, floppy slice. But this Neapolitan-style spot is a standout worth stopping by whether you’re headed to a play or not. Consider the Montanara Starita, rightfully touted as the house specialty. The simple, sublime creation is a deep-fried crust topped with tomato sauce, smoked buffalo mozzarella, and basil and finished in the wood-burning oven. Regular pies are excellent, too, and don’t miss a gorgeous appetizer of house-made burrata cheese. 309 W. 50th St.; 646-719-1043.
Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto. Fragrant sprigs of rosemary tucked into white napkins are the first of many sensory journeys at Cesare Casella’s intimate Upper West Side market/restaurant. (The chef always keeps the herb in his pocket.) Italian small plates run true to the name, but the dainty portions offer bold Tuscan flavors in such dishes as tender braised spare rib; pontormo salad with soft scrambled egg, greens, and pancetta; and lasagna layered with pork and beef ragu. Grab a sidewalk table and start with a flute of Lambrusco and a platter of thin-sliced salumi from the butcher counter in front. 283 Amsterdam Ave.; 212-877-4801.
Empellón Cocina. Chef/owner Alex Stupak, who gained accolades at Alinea and Wd-50, returns to his avant-garde roots with his second Empellón venture, a spinoff of his more casual West Village taqueria. An extensive list of tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails matches the hip, dimly lit scene. Stupak’s high-concept Mexican small plates include masa crisps dunked in pistachio-studded guacamole, mezcal-cured ocean trout, and a spin on queso fundido with cotija cheese and lobster. 105 First Ave.; 212-780-0999.
A Little Italy
Parm. Gone is any lingering red-sauce stigma at Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s retro Italian-American joint, a casual offshoot of the tonier Torrisi Italian Specialties next door. Classics get lifts rather than makeovers, and they’re tastier for it—think house-made mozzarella sticks, a club layered with bacon-studded chicken salad and potato chips, and a showstopper meatball parmigiana. Settle into the cozy space—dineresque in front, Grandma’s parlor in back—with an Amaretto sour, and save room for a towering slice of ice-cream cake. 248 Mulberry St.; 212-993-7189.
Mad for Mezcal
Mayahuel. New York has its share of haute cocktail dens, but this gem of a watering hole from a Death & Co. part owner is an ode to less utilized spirits: tequila and its smoky, complex cousin mezcal. On an East Village side street, Mayahuel features a candlelit, wood-lined basement perfect for sipping flights or one of the many concoctions in which liquors are infused with teas, stirred with sherry, or muddled with fruit. The buzzier, red-lit upstairs is for downing cerveza cocktails or splitting one of the potent punches. 304 E. Sixth St.; 212-253-5888.