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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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UPPER WEST SIDE   (59th- 96th; W of Central Park W)
 
SookkThai. 2686 B-Way @ 102-3rd; 22/19/$27; 870-0253; Cozy yet welcoming Thai star in the Upper West; Tasty selections with a Chinese edge to them; BYOB; Very inexpensive so order multiple appetizers.  Lunch specials are affordable for anyone; Vegetarian friendly dishes; Huge menu featuring Duck dishes, Currys; Striped Bass; Tilapia; Numerous appetizers & great Pad Thai. Very cool décor. Try the tom yum soup & spring rolls.  

 

Indus Valley: Indian. 2636 Broadway @ 100th; 23/16/$33; 965-8560; Off the chart good reviews; Attentive, helpful service; Spices and dishes to fit every palate; Modest prices; Freshest ingredients. Amazing $13.95 lunch buffet; Have some dishes hot enough for the most daring; Menu has anything you can think of. Not super fancy – but perfect for a Columbia University first date.  Endless selections- largest Indian menu I’ve ever seen. 

 
Awadh: Indian. 2588 Broadway @ 98th;  24/20/$48; 646-861-3604; Contemporary Indian in a modern, almost trendy setting; Innovatively prepared dishes; Truly a gem in the area as they are close to upscale; Try the minces lamb appetizer called Galouti Kebab; They have a lamb shank; The Naan is outstanding; There is a baby goat offering; Grilled Lobster; Sea Bass; and they will custom make a dish for you. 
 
Kouzan: Japanese. 685 Amsterdam @ 93rd; 20/20/$35; 280-8099; Gorgeous interior including a waterfall; Reasonable prices and attentive service as well… try it! While not the best sushi in Manhattan, it is the best this far north; Menu is huge with dozens of cooked items to select; The special rolls are all $12-$14;  With this much to choose from, you won’t go home hungry.  Menu is gigantic.
 
Gennaro: Italian. 665 Amsterdam @ 92-3rd; 22/16/$39; 665-5348;  Amazing food; Dirt cheap for high end quality. Average service, small place, and they take no Rez or credit cards; Food incredible though. Wildly popular; Antipasto appetizer; Pasta entrees great; Tiramisu for dessert. Obviously, go during non-peak hours for no wait; Quality has been slipping as late – go for the pasta.  Grilled Calamari.  Bottles of wine under $35.
 
Mermaid Inn: Seafood. 570 Amsterdam @ 87-88th; 23/19/$43; 799-7400; Fresh from the ocean seafood and fish; Laid back, top service and affordable prices make this a top seafood choice. Upscale fish shack; Crazy good lobster rolls. $1 Oysters at happy hour; Get the “Mermaid Mary” – variation on the Bloody; Bitburger beer on tap; Seared calamari; Lobster risotto; Bone-in pork chop; Fish tacos; Blackener catfish; Lobster & Truffle Mac n Cheese; Nice atmosphere! Old Bay fries;  Weekend Brunch.  Very cheap for genre.

 

La Mirabelle: French. 102 W 86th @ Amsterdam-Columbus; 23/18/$51; 496-0458; Old fashioned French Bistro; Excellent French food for a classic evening of top cuisine.  Excellent service from family-owned business. Older crowd, full of regulars; Extremely strong desserts; As it is an older crowd, perfect to take your parents here or for a quiet night out. Incredible service. Try the duckling.  Brunch served.  

 

Celeste: Italian. 502 Amsterdam @ 84th-85th; 24/12/$35; 874-4559; Wood oven pizzas; Naples inspired cuisine;  Large portions – especially antipasti; No Rez/ credit cards;  But, mouthwatering food including a secret cheese plate. Artichoke salad is amazing; Real-deal experience and a huge menu as well; You will not be disappointed. Best to go off-peak hours.  Get there early. 

 

Kefi: Greek. 505 Columbus @ 84th-85th; 23/16/$39; 873-0200; Insanely popular top flight experience; Two level setting after a recent move; Very affordable prices, though rushed service; They have a scrumptious lamb shank; Spacious bar; Grilled Octopus is a special dish; Meatball appetizers in incredible; Greek Mac n Cheese;  Endless menu – all mouth watering.  Part of Michael Psilakis group.  Brunch served.

 

Spiga: Italian. 200 W 84th @ Amsterdam;  23/18/$56;  362-5506; Romantic setting; Creative, improving food. Rustic décor; Consistent quality of food; Large portions of heartily prepared classics. The effort is clearly seen; Buffalo Mozz; Beef Carpaccio; Pan Seared Scallops; Crab Meat with avocados; Nice selection of pastas; Chatham Cod; Halibut; Seafood stew; Lamb Chops; Veal Fillet.  

 

Land: Thai. 450 Amsterdam @ 81-2nd; 23/16/$29; 501-8121; Small but truly wonderful food; Seems more upscale than price; Very spicy food; Pad Thai perfection. Problem is the seating/ size- go early! Vegetable dumplings stand out; Wok basil beef dish; Green curry with chicken; Red snapper; Honestly – just a great place that is ideal for casual dates, pre-gaming, or just a weekday meal. Menu outstanding.

 

Calle Ocho: New Latin. 45 W. 81st @ Columbus; 23/22/$46; 873-5025;  Energetic atmosphere and strong Latin drinks- especially mojitos; Fun setting, festive; Creative and tasty food. Feels like a vacation; Best time to go: Brunch (Rez needed, 12-3 weekends)- it features a crazy all you can drink Sangria bar with 8 or so varieties; Bright and festival atmosphere; Up front bar and large dining hall in back- large place.  

 

Momoya: Japanese. 427 Amsterdam @ 80-81st; 23/20/$41; 580-0007; Simple, spacious setting; Unreal-fresh sushi; Extremely unique, tasty rolls; Menu features many cooked dishes and boxes as well; Great deal for the quality; Inventive & high quality all in one. Tons of sake available; This place is under the radar and one of the best mid-priced options in the genre. Generous portions. Large menu – and it’s amazing.

 

Crave Fishbar: Seafood; 428 Amsterdam @ 80th-81st; 24/19/$55; 646-494-2750; Casual coastal-rustic setting; Reasonable rates; $1 oysters at happy hour; Squid ink pasta; Tuna Tartare; Snapper Sashimi; Burrata; Seared Rare Yellowfin Tuna; Lobster Curry; Also, can order a $45 sampler raw bar appetizer; Also they offer Jonah Crab Claws.  I like this place more for lunch.  Midtown East location too.

 

Milling Room: American. 446 Columbus @ 81st-82nd; 25/24/$57; 595-0380; First up – gorgeous dining room; Spacious décor and high ceilings with natural light; Delicious cocktails and a huge bar; Perfect date scene; Daily happy hour 5-7pm with $6 drinks;  Have a ‘Tavern’ pub in front; Menu includes salads, Salmon tartare, grilled octopus, cheese plate, Mushroom Risotto, Maine Skate, Day Boat Cod, Scottish Salmon, Orzo Mac n Cheese and Chilled Spinach.

 

Burke & Wills:  Australian. 226 W 79th St @ Amsterdam-B-Way; 23/22/$55; 646-823-9251; Expertly prepared authentic Australian; Manhattan cricket club meets here upstairs; Excellent happy hour featuring 2 for 1 of everything; Menu features a raw bar including 4 Jonah Crab claws for $12; Hamachi; Kangaroo Burger; Grilled Pork Chop; Rack of Lamb; Roasted Salmon.  Not a huge menu. Brunch has a Bloody Mary Bar.

 

Wallse: Austrian. 344 W 11th St @ Washington; 25/22/$78; 352-2300; Kurt Gutenbrunner owned;  Like dining in Vienna; Intensely authentic; Charming, semi-formal setting. One of the city’s best wine lists; Artful décor; Michelin 1 star rated; Service is spot on;  Braised rabbit on the menu is outstanding;  4 course tasting for $90, 6 courses for $120;  Halibut, Lobster, Roasted Monkfish, Icelandic Cod; Venison cheeks; and Sea Bass all usuals. Cocktails are $15; 

 

Ocean GrillSeafood. 384 Columbus @ 78th-9; 24/21/$63; 579-2300; Fish kingdom of West side; Freshest seafood in neighborhood; Huge bar area too; Truly a classic feel and great service from Steve Hanson’s top notch empire; Fish so fresh it may swim away. Sushi on menu as well; Upscale seafood dining; They serve an excellent Brunch with complimentary drink;  All forms of grilled fish in a choice of sauce and preparation; Rolls galore along with sashimi/ sushi; King Crab; Raw bar. 

 

Gari: Japanese. 370 Columbus @ 77-8th; 27/15/$75; 362-4816; Melt in your mouth fresh sushi; Absolutely straight from the sea; Unique combos; Order ‘off-menu’; Omakase- $~75. Sushi is served as works of art; Can order a la carte as well. Meticulously presented sushi, exquisitely plated, and of the highest freshness and quality. Teriyaki, tempura and noodle dishes available as well.  Closed Monday.  For $55 you can have Tuna of Gari – 8 pieces of Tuna sushi & a Tuna Roll.

 

Dovetail: American. 103 W 77th @ Columbus; 26/22/$105; 362-3800; Extremely upscale New-American; Gorgeous food creations; Works of art on your plate; Pricy- & limited menu (see online); Received 3-stars from NYT and 1-star from Michelin;  Two levels;  Fine dining and certainly the presentation and service are the greatest strengths. If you like the options on the menu – go – it will be prepared top notch. Prix fixe only, 4 courses $95. 3 for $82;  “Sunday Suppa” – bargain time to go as its 3 courses $58 for dinner.  

 

Red Farm: Chinese/Asian Fusion. 2170 Broadway @ 76th-77th; 26/19/$54; 792-9700; Ultra fresh greenmarket ingredients;  Awesome cocktails; Try the pastrami egg roll; Dumplings are the way to go; No Rez; Chicken Soup Dumplings; Chicken lollipops with shrimp; Shrimp wontons & Ramen noodles; Steamed Sea Bass; Diced lamb with Broccoli; Dungeness Crab & Wild rice noodles; 12 Dim Sum items including 2 kinds of shrimp dumplings; Crispy Oxtail Dumplings; Crab & Pork soup dumplings.  In other words – best Chinese menu ever. West Village location as well.

 

Cesca: Italian. 164 W 75th @ Amsterdam; 23/21/$58; 787-6300; Hearty, rustic dishes; Trendy; Southern Italian; Roomy; Very popular; Celebrate here; Large open space; Vibrant bar scene; Classy yet comfy. Have a Monday 1/2 price wine deal; Date and family friendly; Wonderful Artisanal cheese flights; Medium sized menu; Nice bar for a drink. Seafood salad; Panzanella salad; Yellowfin Tuna; Short Ribs; Arctic Char.

 

Sushi Yasaka: Japanese. 251 W 72nd @ BWay-West End; 23/20/$47; 496-8460; Large menu of appetizers, sushi, sashimi and rolls;  Best bet is to get the Chef’s Omakase where you get 12 pieces of sushi and 1 maki roll for a dirt cheap $45.  Very inexpensive lunch specials as well for $12.  Great bang for the buck.  Pleasant environment; Large portions. Go-to local spot. Noodles are great as well.

 

Pasha: Turkish. 70 W 71st @ Columbus-CPW; 22/19/$41; 579-8751; Exotic décor and cuisine; Less expensive than Istanbul; Colorful, relaxing setting; Good date spot; Neighborhood favorite; Authentic Turkish cuisine. One of the few solid Turkish options on the west side. Great effort made by caring staff. Try the baklava dessert.  Website has photos of all the dishes.

 

Café Luxembourg: French. 200 W 70th @ Amsterdam-West End; 21/18/$56; 873-7411; There for 25 years, produces excellent French bistro food; Local institution; Sexy crowd and a great scene- Especially outdoors. Best French Onion soup in city perhaps; Best for brunch: 9am-4pm weekends; Dinner & lunch menu more limited but contain standard French fare. Nice bar scene;  Grilled Pork Loin; Moules Frites; Lobster Roll; Amazing burgers.

 

Lincoln Square Steak: Steakhouse.208 W 70th @ Amsterdam-West End; 22/22/$62; 875-8600; Sleek new place in Upper West side which needed a steakhouse; Very inexpensive for genre; Rave yelp reviews; Dinner only; Well spaced room; Sizzling bacon; Tuna tartare; Tomato & Buffalo salad; Raw Bar; Seafood platter that’s affordable – $29/person;  $39 early bird prix fixe; The usual cuts of steak, pork chop, short ribs; Blue Fin Tuna; Swordfish; Branzino; Sea Bass; Also 5 Italian entrees.

 

Andanada: Spanish.141 W 69th St @ Columbus-B-Way; 24/22/$56; 646-692-8762; Tapas and other Spanish classics done with modern flair; First Spanish to hold Michelin star outside Spain; Unlimited mimosas, bellinis or sangria at brunch for $35;  Large selection of tapas to choose from;  Quite an extensive menu;  If you love Paella – come here.  Five choices of paella for $50 that serve two. Happy hour Sunday-Thurs 5-7pm. 

 

La Boite en Bois: French. 75 W 68th @ Columbus-CPW; 21/17/$58;  874-2705; Quaint, romantic restaurant; Lincoln Center pre-theatre favorite; Small in size – excellent service; Very enticing menu featuring crepes filled with seafood; Fish stew with monkfish, and seafood; Lamb stew; Veal scaloppines; Roasted duck; Roast salmon; Smoked trout; Cod fish; Seafood focused; Pre-theatre prix-fixe menu- 3 courses for $49 (tons of choice); Weekend Brunch.

 
Shun Lee West: Chinese. 43 W 65th @ Columbus-CPW; 21/16/$54; 769-3888; Excellent Dim Sum, complete with carts; Large selection but pricy for Dim Sum at $7.50 an order.  Traditional dishes; Large lunch and dinner menu as well.  Great Upper West side option.  Not a fancy scene but always reliable. Always solid lunch specials as well. Upscale Chinese.  Orange beef is excellent. 
 
Bar BouludFrench. 1900 B-Way @ 63rd-64th; 24/20/$65; 595-0303;  From famed chef Daniel Boulud, this is his smaller, more affordable wine bar/ restaurant; Bistro fare; Perfect pre or post Lincoln Center; The steak frites stand out; Coq au Vin is yummy; Post modern setting with long bar and vaulted ceiling; Brunch and lunch is served. Massive wine list: 1,000+.  Dinner 3 course prix fixe is $48 or you can order off the menu.
 
Rosa MexicanaMexican. 61 Columbus @ 62nd;  22/21/$48; 977-7700;  Rosa remains a fun, hip-ish place to take a date and enjoy upscale Mexican; Guacamole made at table is best in the city, sorry Dos Caminos and everywhere else – love their foumula; Pomegranate Margaritas top notch and strong;  Well decorated; There is a reason they became a mini-chain.
 
Sapphire Indian: Indian. 1845 B-Way @ 60-61st; 21/18/$43; 245-4444; Great Columbus Circle location; Lunch buffet bargain- $17.95; Wonderful use of spices and flavorful dishes. Upscale scene. Inexpensive for Columbus Circle but pricy for the genre; No other decent Indian restaurants within 10 blocks of it. Worth a weekday lunch visit. Closed Sunday.  Huge menu.  Goat curry. 9 lamb dishes! 

 

Jean Georges: French. 1 Central Park W @ Trump Int’l Hotel @ 60th; 28/28/$165; 299-3900; Best French restaurant in NYC; Wildly expensive; Michelin 3-star rated; It does offer a $58 prix fixe lunch; Considered by all review sources a magical experience; Foodies ultimate dream; Celebrate your promotion (and ask for another to cover the bill);  Foie Gras, Amuse Bouche highest caliber; Dinner: $138 for 3-course prix fixe- large choice for each course. See website. 7 course tasting menu, seasonal, $218. Second mortgage to afford anything here. 

 

Nougatine at Jean-Georges: French. 1 Central Park W @ Trump Int’l Hotel @ 60th;  27/22/$70; 299-3900; Adjacent to Jean Georges – this much more affordable option is the way to go if you want money left over to pay the rent; They go the extra mile; Superb New French cuisine; Brunch and lunch available;  Tuna tartare; Meat and Cheese board; Crab cake; Sauteed Sea Bass; Veal Milanese; $98 tasting menu; Lunch tasting is $38- 3 courses. 

 

A Voce: Italian. 10 Columbus Circle; 24/22/$67; 823-2523; New York Times’ highest 3-star rating; Seasonal Italian masterworks; Huge buzz about the place so reserve well in advance; About 16 entrees and 6 or 7 appetizers – mouthwatering descriptions on the menu; Chef Missy Robbins nails it; Check website as each location has different entrees (also on Mad/26th). Affordable for its quality. Seafood offerings; Hamachi. Great menu.

 

Porter House NY: Steakhouse. Time Warner Center; 10 Columbus Circle @ 60th; 23/25/$78; 823-9500; Amazing views of Central Park; Gorgeous interior, superior service; Perfect for pre Lincoln Center or to entertain a client; Expensive even for the genre; High end quality; Menu includes all the favorite cuts of beef including a Veal Chop; Cowboy Rib Eye; and a Lamb T-Bone; Seafood available; Raw bar appetizers. Chilled Seafood platter for 3 for $78.  Pouched 2 lb lobster. 

 

Asiate: Asian. 80 Columbus Circle – Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 35th floor; 24/29/$111; 805-8881; Voted Zagat’s #1 restaurant in NYC for décor; Epic view of Central Park; Pampering service; For a special occasion; Insanely overpriced; Dinner is $95 3-course prix-fixe or a tasting menu for $135- 6 courses; Menu is seasonal and is Asian/ New American. Brunch is 3 courses $64 – way to go. Cocktails at brunch only $9. Burrata; Maine Lobster; Hamachi Sashimi; Branzino; Long Island Duck.     

 
Marea: Italian. 240 Central Park S @ 7th Av-BWay; 27/26/$111;  582-5100; Chef Michael White kills it at Zagat’s formally #1 ranked Italian; Impeccable service and gorgeous décor; Signature dish is Fusilli with octopus and bone marrow; Michelin 2-star rated; About 17 or so sliced raw fish and shellfish to pick from at $17 a pop; Appetizers are epic ($20 or so); Pastas are to die for ($30 or so each); Incredible Risotti; They suggest you go with the $99 four course prix fixe.  Brunch, lunch & a bar menu as well.
 

South Gate:  American. 154 CPS @ 6th-7th Av; 24/25/$74; 484-5120; Just a relaxing, airy, beautiful setting; Sophisticated cooking; Mixologist is supreme; Romantic and also an epic brunch spot; Obviously overpriced; See website for the bar, lunch, brunch, cocktail, dinner and wine menus; Lamb porterhouse, Duck breast, Swordfish, Halibut, and Veal Chops on menu. 3 course Jazz brunch $55. Open bar brunch is $42 (1 course);