10 Dishes That NYC Chefs Learned from Their Moms (and Grandmas)
We may be grown-ups with all manner of fancy restaurants at our disposal, but for a lot of us, nothing comes close to Mom’s homemade lasagna/pork fried rice/blueberry pancakes. (But shout-out to the moms who taught us the importance of knowing when to order pizza.) And if their menus are any indication, NYC chefs feel the same way. Here, ten mom-inspired dishes that are (almost) as good as our own childhood favorites.
Grilled Tsukune at Bessou
These melt-in-your-mouth chicken meatballs are based on a dish made by owner Maiko Kyogoku’s mother. She never got the recipe, so she and her sister reverse-engineered theirs until it tasted just like Mom’s. Here, they’re grilled with a black garlic teriyaki glaze and served with soy-cured egg yolk for dipping.
5 Bleecker St.; bessou.nyc
Corn Arepa at Clay
Executive chef Gustavo Lopez has fond memories of his mother making arepas for breakfast when he was growing up in Colombia, so the satisfying corn cakes had to make an appearance on the brunch menu, served simply with house-made ricotta or fancied up with duck confit, salsa verde and a poached egg.
553 Manhattan Ave.; claynyc.com
Sinigang Flip Bowl at Flip Sigi
The vibe at this fast-casual Filipino spot may be modern, but a few of its staple dishes have been passed down for generations. The Sinigang Flip Bowl (based on a traditional tamarind-based soup) and the Adobo OG (coconut fried rice topped with pork and chicken adobo) are both dishes that chef/owner Jordan Andino’s grandmother cooked for him regularly.
Multiple locations; flipsigi.com
Zucchini Blossoms at Evelina
The menu at this Fort Greene charmer changes often, but executive chef Lanfranco Paliotti has a few mom-inspired dishes in the spring rotation: saffron potato gnocchi with mussels (similar to a dish she used to make with fresh-caught seafood near their home on the Adriatic coast) and soft-shell crab with fried zucchini flowers (his mom’s favorite).
211 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn; evelinabk.com
Grandma Chicken at Little Tong Noodle Shop
You might guess this dish at the mixian noodle house is named after chef Simone Tong’s own granny, but in fact the name traces its origins to the matriarch of a fourth-generation restaurant in China’s Yunnan province. The hearty broth is enriched with black sesame garlic oil (hence its inky hue), fermented red chili, pickled daikon and confetti flower petals.
177 First Ave.; littletong.com
Malloreddus alla Campidanese at Le Fanfare
This beautifully simple dish is a specialty of southern Sardinia, where the owners are from. The gnocchi-like pasta, which reminds co-owner Giorgia Zedda of her mother and grandmothers, is topped with marinara, pecorino and a unique Sardinian sausage spiced with anise.
1103 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn; lefanfare.com
Soy Sauce Quail at Tuome
Many dishes at chef Thomas Chen’s modern Asian-inflected restaurant are inspired by his mother‘s recipes, but this one’s adapted from one of his favorites: her soy-sauce simmered chicken wings and tea eggs, flavored with star anise and Sichuan peppercorn. Here, the dish is re-created with quail and served with smoked potatoes and mizuna (a peppery mustard green).
536 E. Fifth St.; tuomenyc.com
Biscotti at The Sosta
The stereotypically stick-like cookies don’t get a lot of love, but chef and cofounder Ali LaRaia’s version, a riff on a recipe passed down from her mother (and grandmother before that), is baked fresh daily and irresistible even to “biscotti haters.”
186 Mott St.; thesosta.com
Gin-Cured Salmon Everything Toast at the Eddy
Chef Jeremy Salamon pays homage to his mom’s favorite food: an everything bagel with lox and scallion cream cheese (a woman after our own heart). At the restaurant, the salmon is gin-cured and served with pickled ramp schmear, heirloom tomato and, of course, “everything crunch.”
342 E. Sixth St.; theeddynyc.com
Grandma Val’s Meatballs at Pig Bleecker
Chef Matt Abdoo is a wizard with meat, and now we know why: He learned to cook from his mom and grandmother, the latter of whom is the namesake for these sauce-smothered, Di Palo’s mozzarella-topped beauties.
155 Bleecker St.; pigbleecker.com