Nothing will stop a New Yorker from trekking out to visit a buzzy new restaurant—not even a polar vortex. From international bakeries to an eel-focused eatery to five (count ’em) worthy new pizza joints, here are 19 spots to add to your must-eat list, stat.
The Most Exciting New Restaurants and Bars to Try This Winter
If you always zero in on the dragon roll on sushi menus, you need to check out NYC’s first unagi-ya (eel restaurant). This midtown newcomer specializes in the grilled Japanese delicacy with dishes like eel basted in sauce and served over rice (kabayaki), whole grilled eel (shirayaki) and even a Caesar salad with eel croutons and an eel wrapped in a rolled egg omelet (umaki).
238 E. 53rd St.; hachibei.nyc
Picture the pizza parties of your childhood—only better—and you have this ’90s-inspired slice joint in the Garment District, brought to you by founder Noam Grossman (previously of Dig Inn and B. Good) in collaboration with international pizza consultant Anthony Falco. Classic Sicilian and round pies are freshly made and topped with responsibly sourced produce and house-made ingredients like fresh mozzarella, sausage and pickled peppers.
598 Eighth Ave.; upsidepizza.com
Pilar Cuban Bakery
Get a taste of authentic Cuban coffee and pastries a la Miami’s Little Havana at Pilar Cuban Bakery in Bed-Stuy, from chef-owner Ricardo Barreras of the already muy popular Pilar Cuban Eatery. Sample savory and sweet Cuban pastelitos filled with guava and cream cheese, croquettes, empanadas and Cuban tamales. And be sure to save room for Barreras’s signature Cuban sandwich.
397 Greene Ave., Brooklyn; pilarny.com
Dear Irving On Hudson
Head up to the 40th floor of midtown’s new Aliz Hotel and you’ll be transported to a James Bond–inspired space reminiscent of upscale hotel bars of the 1960s. Enjoy the plush couches and 360-degree views while sipping craft cocktails that celebrate New York State spirits and twists on old favorites (think boulevardiers, Gibsons and palomas) by bar director and partner Meaghan Dorman. The food menu is equally throwback-luxe, with peel-and-eat prawns, smoked sturgeon, rabbit rillettes, kobe steak tartare and more.
310 W. 40th St.; dearirving.com
Ole & Steen
A beloved Danish bakery (known as Lagkagehuset in Denmark) has made its way stateside as the much easier to pronounce Ole & Steen in Union Square. You’ll want to try every single one of its signature Scandinavian pastries and breads, like as the Copenhagener (made with marzipan paste and poppy seeds), the Cinnamon Social (filled with cinnamon and vanilla custard) and the lovely carrot rye loaf (a take on traditional Danish rye bread, made with grated carrots for a softer texture).
873 Broadway; oleandsteen.us
This new Latin American restaurant from celebrity chef and partner Franklin Becker (formerly of the Little Beet and the Little Beet Table) just made a splashy opening at Hotel Americano. The menu is inspired by the cuisine of Central and South America, with a special focus on dishes from Mexico City, and highlights include savory churros (garlic-jalapeño butter, queso), octopus carnitas (avocado, sesame-peanut pipián, chicharrón) and crunchy cod tacos (red cabbage, chipotle aioli).
518 W. 27th St.; hotel-americano.com
Located in the East Village, Dia serves Roman-style pizza and other regional Italian specialties in a wood-paneled dining room with red leather banquettes and a sleek white marble bar that provides a view of the pizza oven. The menu features pizza romana from a classic Margherita to more adventurous topping combos like anchovy and ’nduja or shrimp with pesto and lemon zest. Aside from pizza, don’t sleep on the braised lamb neck with creamy polenta and carrots.
58 Second Ave.; dia-nyc.com
Nolita has a new contemporary Mediterranean restaurant that is actually worth the hype. Shoo Shoo channels the energy of Tel Aviv’s bohemian café culture through a New York lens, with a focus on organic and grass-fed proteins, whole grains and seasonal vegetables. The hummus lamb ragù with pillowy soft pitas is worth a visit alone. Other menu winners include the Middle Eastern daal made with roasted butternut squash and cashew butter, and the organic chicken thigh schnitzel rolled in a sesame crust and served with the dreamiest mashed potatoes.
371 Broome St.; shooshoonolita.com
Recently receiving the honor for the best Margherita pizza in NYC from Eater, La Rossa is the first U.S. pizzeria by renowned Italian pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari. The Soho spot offers traditional round pizzas with crisp and airy crusts, plus small plates like the Roman street snack supplì (fried rice balls). Callegari’s pizza technique combines science and art, using a cold fermentation process and high-quality, preservative-free ingredients that result in a smoother dough. Go for classics like the aforementioned Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes, red onions and red pepper or signature selections such as the cacio e pepe (!) orcarbonara pizzas (guanciale, egg, Pecorino Romano and black pepper).
267 Lafayette St.; larossa.love
This fast-casual Israeli cuisine concept is brought to you by Erez Komarovsky, known as one of the founding fathers and leading forces of modern Israeli cuisine. The bold space is an open kitchen concept centered around a copper-coated taboon oven, which turns out comforting dishes like falafel-crusted salmon, green baked falafel, golden cauliflower and sweet bites for dessert like vegan chocolate-tahini truffles.
83 University Pl.; mintkitch.com
Violet is the newest elevated pizza restaurant by the Pizza Loves Emily team (it’s named after the state flower of Rhode Island). Think grilled pizzas, pastas and shareable plates that pay homage to the flavors of New England with tons of fresh seafood. Of course the anchor of the menu is (grilled) pizza: Pies are naturally shaped and grilled on both sides, and they’re served with scissors to cut slices. Seasonal and innovative pizzas include the Atwells (with broccoli and pistachio pesto), Squash (with winter squash, Sichuan pepper, chèvre and thyme) and Hardika’s Achaarlic Bread (with roasted garlic pickle, herbs and crispy neem leaf).
511 E. Fifth St.; violeteastvillage.com
The Water Tower At The Williamsburg Hotel
Water towers just became super cool thanks to the Williamsburg Hotel’s debut of a glass-and-steel-encased lounge perched on the rooftop. Gaze at unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline while sipping on inventive cocktails like the Message in a Bottle (Bacardi 4 Year, clarified milk, Chinese cinnamon cordial, Blue Majik, pineapple juice) and the Purple Rain (Empress gin, Cocchi Americano, pear brandy, CBD oil). Split a white-truffle grilled cheese or indulge in a caviar tasting while you’re at it.
96 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn; thewilliamsburghotel.com
St. Tropez Soho
Inspired by its French Riviera namesake, this wine bar (sister to another St. Tropez in the West Village) features an all-French wine list with more than 40 selections available by the glass, highlighting organic and biodynamic options, Provençal rosé and Champagne. The interior is French farmhouse–inspired, with an open kitchen presenting classic dishes like beef filet tartare, a Provençal flatbread with mushrooms and Parmesan, and flan de porc braisé (apple cider–braised pork belly over celery root puree).
Locations in the West Village and Soho; sttropezwinebar.com
At Oxalis in Prospect Heights, newly minted 2019 New York Rising Star award winner chefNico Russell offers an affordable vegetable-forward five-course prix fixe and approachable a la carte menu. Russell previously worked at Daniel for years, as well as Mirazur in the South of France (named No. 3 on the World’s 50 Best in 2018). The dishes defy their simple descriptions, like “young carrots and chamomile,” “farro and charred brassicas,” and “duck, sweet potato, fig and yogurt.”
791 Washington Ave., Brooklyn; oxalisnyc.com
Empellón Al Pastor
Taco guru Alex Stupak opens another much-clamored-for taqueria with a second location of Empellón Al Pastor (this one at the Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill (the original is in the East Village). The new menu is a “25-item ode to low-brow hedonism, lovingly served on paper plates,” which rings true in items like the “Chihuahua sticks” with tomato-chipotle sauce and the fried-chicken sandwiches with cucumbers and toum (garlic sauce). Drinks focus on margaritas, beers and shots as well as tiki-inspired cocktails.
145 E. 39th St.; empellon.com
Teranga, which means “hospitality” in Wolof, is a new healthy, fast-casual Pan-African restaurant in the Africa Center in Harlem. Helmed by chef Pierre Thiam, Teranga gives a modern interpretation to traditional African dishes. Order a suggested combo or build your own from the gluten-free menu, which includes African staples such as jollof-inspired grain bowls and suya-style grilled meats. There are also vegan options like black-eyed pea salad, sweet potato stew and plantain fufu. And the dishes are laced with African superfoods like Moringa, baobab and a delicate, gluten-free supergrain called fonio.
1280 Fifth Ave.; itsteranga.com
Nope, that’s not a rich person’s living room—it’s the newly opened rooftop cocktail lounge in the Seaport District at Pier 17, with fireplaces and lounge furniture making it extra cozy in these frigid temps. An equally cozy menu includes grilled “Caesar” brioche with Parmesan and crispy chicken skin, and crab and dill hush puppies, alongside cocktails like the Royal Mail (Bacardi 8-year rum, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Earl Grey and brûléed grapefruit) or the Edmont (Jim Beam rye, blanc vermouth, honey and lavender).
89 South St.; r17nyc.com
The team behind Fish Cheeks (a critically acclaimed Thai restaurant in Noho) is back at it with a new fast-casual concept inspired by Thailand’s northeastern Isan region. Located in DeKalb Market Hall in downtown Brooklyn, Chicks Isan focuses on sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors featuring ingredients like dried chilis and tamarind and fresh herbs such as mint and kaffir lime. Go for the Isan-style grilled chicken (kai yang) or gluten-free larb mu (minced pork tossed with Thai herbs). Warning: Everything comes pretty spicy, but most items can be taken down a notch or two on request.
445 Albee Square W.; Brooklyn; chicksisan.com
Sauce Pizzeria Les
The team behind beloved family-style Italian spot Sauce is rolling out a Lower East Side location of its new pizza spinoff (the East Village location opened in September), offering signature thin crust and square pies. The twist is that Sauce incorporates fresh mashed potato into their pizza dough for a light, airy crust. YOLO topping combos include the Al Pastor Pie (pineapple sauce, jalapeño, pickled red onion, roasted pork) and Upside Down Cheese (where the toppings are assembled in reverse order). All slices are served with a side of “Grandmother’s Gravy” and dipping is encouraged.
Locations in the East Village and Lower East Side; saucerestaurant.com