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Manhattan & NJ (Bergen County) Restaurant Reviews

Ian Hunter's Guide to Manhattan and Bergen County, NJ's Best Restaurants, Bars, and Gourmet Markets

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SOHO/ TRIBECA   (Houston to Canal; Layfayette and points west)

 

Estancia 460: Argentinean. 460 Greenwich @ Desbrosses-Watts; 21/15/$40; 431-5093; Rustic setting with outside seating; Hearty menu with Italian inspired dishes as well – many pasta options; Seared meats on the grill stand out. Portions are very large. There is a romantic vibe and setting and excellent service; Every Thursday – Strip Steak for $19.95. Lunch and Brunch menus available. Been around 20+ years;  Bronzino; Blackened Port Chop; Pizza options. Cocktails $12, Sangria $8. 
 
Sushi Azabu: Japanese. 428 Greenwich @ Laight; 25/21/$60; 274-0428; What a sleeper; On the ground floor is Japanese-Mediterranean fusion and downstairs is fresh from the Ocean sushi; They employ an attentive staff and the decor is relaxing and pleasant; Try the Assorted Sashimi with 5 kinds of sashimi to sample for $70; 7 kinds for $100; Grilled King Crab for $30; Limited number of rolls; Better suited for those willing to try Omakase. 1 Michelin star. 

 

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse: Steakhouse. 409 Greenwich @ Hubert; 26/20/$84; 925-0350; Started by former head waiter at Peter Lugar’s; Incredible Porterhouse; Wildly popular; Vaulted ceilings;  Laid back, with old-school cool;  Gorgeous décor and fish-friendly menu as well; Gruff waiters; Creamed spinach & German potatoes are famous;  Bacon by the slice; Freshest Mozz; Sea Bass; Yellowfin Tuna; Rib Eye; One of 5 Manhattan locations. Masterfully done steaks – top 3 in city. 

 

Locanda Verde: Italian. 377 Greenwich @ Moore; Greenwich Hotel; 25/23/$59; 925-3797; Majorly popular hotspot; Celebrities and sexy cliental; Date central; Beautiful setting; Lamb meatball sliders and Sheep Milk’s Ricotta are standouts; Weekend brunch; Try Chef Andrew Carmellini’s “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” or one of the daily specials; Medium sized menu – check it out. Very unique offerings. Energetic service and has that ‘it’ factor.  Huge wine list. Cocktails $16.  Blue Crab, Burrata, Arctic Char. 

 
Tribeca Grill: American. 375 Greenwich @ Franklin; 22/21/$58; 941-3900; DeNiro owned, classy New American  restaurant. Spacious, reliable, great service, and an occasional celebrity. Seared sea scallops stand out; Extensive, pricy drink list. High end but quality. Giant wine list of great quality;  Great menu: Braised Short Ribs; Buff Mozz Salad; Rare Seared Tuna; Cod, Lamb Shank and more. Great people watching. Affordable.

 

VCafe: Vietnamese. 345 Greenwich @ Harrison-Jay; 22/17/$33; 431-5888; Amazing for lunch featuring unbelievable sandwiches; Trendy looking spot for dinner; Modern preparations of Viet classics; Almost a brasserie feel. Open kitchen. Clearly – you come here for the Pho soups more than anything. Decent bar scene; Have great Chili based dishes as well; Strong option.  Delicious appetizers.

 

Jungsik: Korean. 2 Harrison @ Hudson;  27/25/$150; 219-0900; Highest ranked Korean restaurant in United States; Nobody not named Trump can afford this place; 7 course tasting menu is $180/person;  Or you can do a 5 course ‘choice’ menu which will run $120+/person.  Service & presentation are outstanding. Alcohol is very expensive too – maybe have tea!  Foodie paradise if you make half a million+.  Michelin gives it 2 stars.

 
Thalassa: Greek. 179 Franklin St @ Greenwich; 24/25/$64; 941-7661; Large Greek seafooder; Modern, mature décor; Loft-like space; Somewhat pricy; Lamb chops to die for; Greek fisherman’s soup; Crabmeat Salad; Seafood Saganaki; Diver Scallops; Artisanal cheeses; King Crab legs; Wondrous whole fish selections including Dover Sole, Langustines, Striped Bass and Sea Bass. Pristine service.

 
Nobu: Japanese. 105 Hudson @ Franklin; 27/25/$83; 219-0500; Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa owned; Peruvian

influence; Off the chart good. Ridiculously fresh sushi and fish/ seafood dishes; Fancy & Trendy; Celeb Hot Spot; Go to Nobu, Next Door for slightly cheaper / same food at same address. All locations, now all over the world, provide that over the top experience, sponsored by Robert DeNiro. Omakase is $125 or $150 a person;  Apps $20-$30, Mains $~40.    

 

Tamarind: Indian. 99 Hudson @ Franklin; 26/25/$62; 775-9000; The former Murray Hill standout is now in a sleek TriBeCa location;  The ‘wow’ factor here is very high; Date and special occasion friendly; Elegant dishes & unique menu offerings; Food outstanding & different from ‘normal’ Indian restaurants; Bi-level setup and perfect service; Try the Chili Crab; Most main courses $26 & cocktails $12. 

 

Acappella: Italian. 1 Hudson @ Chambers; 25/22/$68; 240-0163; First up – gorgeous interior featuring well spaced tables and well lit brick walls on one side with paintings on others- old world feel; Tuxedoed waiters- amazing service; Free grappa after dinner; Not a huge menu (15 entrees) but wow; Veal Chop, Lamb Chop, and pasta dishes… yum; Appetizers are flat out incredible.  The Godfather would dine here; Complimentary Grappa at end;  Bronzino; Bufala Mozz;  Yellowfin Tuna;

 
Blaue Gans: Austrian. 139 Duane @ Church-W. BWay; 21/18/$47; 571-8880; Another Kurt Gutenbrunner owned Austrian restaurant; Cheaper than Wallse; The Schnitzel stands out. Sausage city; Berlin bistro setting; Great beer selection- 1 liter drafts available;  Brunch and lunch available; Unique experience with so few German/Austrian restaurants in the city.  Happy hour 4-7pm Mon-Sat.  

 

Khe-Yo: Laotian. 157 Duane @ WB-Way-Hudson; 23/19/$42; 587-1089; Iron Chef Marc Forgione  joins with other to start this creative place featuring food from Laos;  Menu features half a dozen small and large plates each;  Try the Chili Prawns, Spare Ribs, Pork Curry Noodles or Wok seared Lobster and Noodles – all of which are amazing and unique.  Time to get out & take a chance. With an Iron Chef – low risk.

 

Scalini Fedeli: Italian. 165 Duane @ Greenwich-Hudson; 26/24/$83; 528-0400;  Haute cuisine! Three course prix fixe for $75 with decent sized portions; Focus on Tuscany region; Excellent wine list and supreme service; Very romantic setting for special occasions; What’s nice is the menu items to choose from is extensive for the genre; Specialty is their freshly made pasta dishes. Dress up for this place. Old Europe feel; Menu is very limited however – 10 total items to pick from for main course. 

 
Bouley: French. 163 Duane @ Hudson; 28/27/$150 or $65 (L); 964-2525; Might bankrupt you but Michelin 1-star rated and NY Times 3-star rated food will always impress; Owned by master chef David Bouley; Country cooking at its finest; Ever-changing menu- see website; $59 lunch 5 course tasting menu the way to go; Tasting menu for dinner is $195;  Dinner 3 course prix Fixe is $135;  Gorgeous setting and impeccable service; Go on- try it! Dungeness Crab appetizer. Jackets sadly required for dinner; 
 
Giorgione: Italian. 307 Spring @ Greenwich-Hudson; 22/20/$45; 352-2269; Known for amazing Wood oven individual pizzas; Also showcase a mouthwatering array of pasta dishes and salads; Appetizers include Buffalo Mozz and a great Lobster, Crabmeat Calamari and Shrimp salad; Kind service in a hip west Soho location complete the scene. Nice wine list. Bronzino; Yummy Frito Misto.
 
Aquagrill: Seafood. 210 Spring @ 6th Av; 27/19/$58; 274-0505; Fish heaven; Raw bar- endless oyster selection; Popular and always packed; Seafood still fighting for life on your plate it’s so fresh; Two levels – date friendly; Extremely helpful staff to educate you on fish. Ever-improving quality and reputation; Quality of service elevates them; Crab cakes beyond outstanding; Splurge on the seafood plateau. Just a fabulous restaurant in every way except possibly spacing of table. Jonah Crab claw; Lobster Salad; Yellowfin tuna.  
 

Blue Ribbon Brasserie: Seafood/ American. 97 Sullivan @ Prince-Spring; 26/19/$56; 274-0404; Down home cooking and epic seafood; Comfort food heaven; Apps include: Cheese Fondue, Grilled Shrimp Remoulade, Escargot, BBQ Ribs, Smoked Trout, Hummus, Wings, Sauteed Calamari & Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  WOW.  Raw bar includes Hard Shell Crabs, Lobster, New Orleans Shrimp, Clams, Scallops and oysters;  How about Roast Duck Soup, Spicy Fish Soup, Matzoh Ball soup;  Many salads; Nearly 30 main courses including: Fried Chicken – get it; Lobster, Pigeon, Striped Bass, Red Trout, Paella, NY Strip, Rack of Lamb and many more. 

 
Blue Ribbon Sushi: Japanese. 119 Sullivan @ Prince-Spring; 26/19/$58; 343-0404; Fresh Sushi, known for possibly the best Sashimi in Manhattan; Works of art; Mind blowingly good; So very fresh your order may swim to you. Cooked dishes outstanding as well. Only real downside is the cost, which is fairly substantial; Special rolls or Sushi/Sashimi Platters are way to go.  Just a great restaurant.

 
Raoul’s: French. 180 Prince @ Sullivan-Thompson; 22/23/$58; 966-3518; Truly authentic first-rate French fare in an authentic bistro setting; Been around since 1975;  Always popular and just like dining in Paris; Romantic ambiance; Back garden; Can’t go wrong here; Steak au poivre; Duck breast are amazing. Your meal will be good or great here – never off;  Medium sized menu. 
  
Il Corallo Trattoria: Italian. 176 Prince @ Sullivan-Thompson; 24/14/$27; 941-7119; Bargain basement cheap; Massive menu; Known for huge choice in brilliantly prepared pastas. Service/ setting is iffy. But food wows you. Also – cheap beyond belief- Appetizers all under $10, pastas $8-$14; Many great pizza entrees as well; By large menu, I mean about 100+ things to choose from.  Multiple mouthwatering Mozz appetizer choices;  Come here for Apps, Pastas or Dinner-Pizza.  Super casual. 
 
Aurora: Italian. 510 Broome @ Thompson-WB-Way; 25/21/$47; 334-9020; Incredibly fresh pasta and ingredients; Beautiful, relaxing décor- farmhouse setting; Top service; Top of the line. Sexy space- though slightly small – but worth it for an amazing menu of standard and creatively new selections. Midrange pricing helps; Serve brunch as well (cocktail included). Just a happy place. Wine bar feel.  Brunch includes a cocktail and they serve Crab Benedict. 
 
Chalk Point Kitchen: American. 527 Broome @ Thomp-Sullivan; 24/22/$53; 390-0327;  Great option for Brunch, lunch or dinner;  Massive Brunch menu with freshest ingredients & freshly squeezed OJ; Dinner options in this fantastic space (visually) include Deviled Eggs, Smoked Salmon, Arctic Char, Grilled swordfish, NY Strip, Roasted chicken, Rack of Lamb and many vegetable offering.
 
Taureau: French/ Fondue. 558 Broome @ Varick; 25/17/$45;  228-2222; Receiving amazing reviews across the board; Small place so go early or on a weekday; Features cheese, meat and chocolate fondues; Perfect date spot and very romantic; They have a dozen different fondues – affordable; You can order a prix fixe where you try 1 of each type of fondue – cheese, meat and chocolate. 
 
Bistro Les Amis: French. 180 Spring @ Thompson; 22/17/$42; 226-8645; Charming Soho French bistro with the usual classics plus some special preparations; Romantic, smallish place; Fair pricing & great service; $34 prix fixe; Steak Frites with herb butter. Excellent, huge brunch menu; Gravlax, French Onion Soup, Mozz & Tomato salad appetizers stand out; Coq au vin, healthy dinner salads, Lamb shank, Duck & Steak frites. Bronzino; Ahi Tuna.  Best for dinner
 
Dos Caminos: Mexican. 475 W B-Way @ Houston; 21/21/$48; 277-4300; Great upscale Mexican, though becoming more of a chain; Sexy, young, hip setting in all locations; Energetic scene perfect for Dates or larger groups; Margaritas will put you under; Guacamole is tremendous; Steve Hanson empire journeys on. Can be loud and service a bit iffy. Best of the mid-level Mexicans.  Reliable fare & polished service. 

 
Novecento: Argentinean. 343 WB-Way @ Broome-Grand; 22/18/$45; 925-4706; Delicious steaks; Trendy area. Not a typical steakhouse – this place is fun! Bistro digs. Skirt steak and empanadas are excellent; Sitting at the bar for your meal is fun if looking for a casual evening; Good for private parties; They even have some pasta dishes and other non-traditional steakhouse items. Try the empanadas, Tuna Tartare or Burrata appetizers.
 
Batard: European. 239 W B-Way @ White-Walker; 27/22/$95; 219-2777; New European masterpiece cuisine; Michelin 1 star; Tasting menus and beautiful presentation; Tasting menus: 2 courses $55, 3 courses $69 and 4 courses $79.  Maine Lobster; Yellowfin Tuna; Barley Risotto; Roasted Cod; Amish Chicken; Drinks are generally $10-$14.  James Beard 2015 best new restaurant.  

 

Marc Forgione: American. 134 Reade @ Greenwich-Hudson; 24/24/$78; 941-9401; The former Iron chef does great work here; Focus is on farm-to-table cuisine; Website is like reading a book on the seemingly self-indulgent team; But – food is excellent and the décor modern and attractive; Great Brunch available; Limited menu and website features pictures of the food which is cool.  
 
Sazon: Puerto Rican: 105 Reade @ Church- W B-Way; 22/21/$43; 406-1900; Hip, cool and fun; They serve huge portions of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine; Incredibly friendly service; Try the amazing White Wine Sangria; Gets crowded on weekends – try weekdays; Tilapia and the Paella stand out; More upscale, though not fancy, then others in genre. Same owners as Sofrito. Big menu – all looks great. Bi-level space.  Brunch with unlimited Mimosa, Sangria.  

 
Papatzul: Mexican. 55 Grand @ W-BWay; 21/17/$35; 274-8225; Fusion of ultra gourmet and traditional classics at this rustic, yet lively space; Affordable pricing and super-strong drinks add to the experience. Name means: Mayan for “Food of the Gods”. The classic combo to get here: Fish Tacos and a large Margarita; Also of note – you won’t break the bank here.  Very casual setting.  Not fancy.

 

Duane Park CaféAmerican. 157 Duane @ Hudson-WBWay; 22/24/$54; 732-5555; Extremely good dishes in an upscale yet trendy location; Features a Burlesque show; Affordable for genre. Stately décor which features live Jazz and throwback burlesque acts; Medium-sized location reminding one of the old south;  Certainly a great date spot; Seafood Bouillabaisse stands out.  Closed Sun, Mon. See performance list.

 

Pepolino: Italian. 281 W B-Way @ Canal; 25/21/$56; 966-9983; High end Northern Italian; Two levels- better upstairs & quieter; Cool, modern feel with excellent service; Tasty classics of highest caliber. Try the Mussels or the Braised Lamb Shank; Like dining in a townhouse – charming; Brunch and lunch available; Fabulous Antipasto; A dozen to die for pasta selections; Calamari stew.  Cod, Wild Boar.

 
Mercer Kitchen: American. 99 Prince @ Mercer; 22/23/$59; 966-5454; American-French fare; Mercer Hotel Restaurant; Very sleek and cool; Celeb spot; Upscale professional crowd; Impeccable. Run by Jean-George Vongerichten;  Raw bar; Individual pizzas available; Skate, Sea Bass, Salmon, Haddock, Lobster, Steak and Lamb stew all on menu;  Sashimi Salmon.  Fun menu and awesome date spot. 
 
Lure Fishbar: Seafood. 142 Mercer @ Prince; 23/23/$62; 431-7676; Go early to enjoy the hopping bar scene; Ultra fresh seafood including sushi; Cruise ship level service, with the setting reminiscent of a yacht’s interior; Sexy patrons; Fish so fresh it will swim to your plate; Also feature superb sushi and special rolls; Lunch, Brunch, Happy Hour or Dinner; Excellent raw bar; Lobster Roll; Seafood salad; Shellfish platters; Deviled eggs; Monkfish; Bronzino; Whole Lobster.  Only issue is costs of drinks (Wine & cocktails $16-18);
 
B&B Winepub: American Pub. 25 W Houston St @ Mercer; 22/20/$36; Just a cool place to eat and drink; Brick wall interior with ideal lighting; Serve lunch, dinner and brunch; Website has mouth watering images of their main dishes; Grilled Red Snapper; Pork Schnitzel; Incredible burgers; Large drink selection; Certainly a must-try in the area. Fun house cocktails.  Happy Hour. GREAT nibbles.
 

Galli: Italian. 45 Mercer @ Broome-Grand; 24/22/$40; 966-9288; Absolutely delicious comfort classics; Cool exposed brick wall laden space; Affordable especially for the area; Weekday 4-7pm Happy Hour menu with cheapo apps and drinks $5-$7;  Menu includes Bufala Mozz; Baked clams; Lots of salads; Grilled Calamari; 14 different pasta dishes including Pescatore with seafood in a garlic olive oil sauce; Chicken Parm is special here; Grilled Veal; Bronzino. 

 
Balthazar: French; 80 Spring @ B-Way-Crosby; 23/23/$54; 965-1414; Insanely popular; Brunch specialist; Dinner date spot; Epic good; Keith McNally owned; Absolute spot-on Paris brasserie; Models, celebs, and tourists in crowd. Eggs Benedict & steak frites stand out; Large portions for French; Only downside is noise levels and tourists. Apps $15-$20, Entrees $24-$35; Can come anytime – lunch, late night too. Smoked Salmon; Brioche French Toast; Raw Bar 

 

Ed’s Lobster Bar: Seafood. 222 LaFayette @ Spring; 25/15/$39; 343-3236; Walk in and enjoy the loaded Lobster Roll; Beach themed room – small in size; Fun bar – best to eat at bar; There is an outrageous Lobster Poutine; Enjoy selections from the raw bar; The soups are incredible – Corm & Lobster Chowder; Lobster Burger, Lobster Pot Pie.  This place is best for lunch as it’s super casual – diner like.