New York City Top 25 Restaurants: April 2018

New York City Top 25 Restaurants: April 2018

Temperatures are finally starting to warm up again and we are all beginning to make our way out of our fleece blanket cocoons and back out into the concrete jungle. In anticipation of your spring and summer food adventures, Foodable Labs has churned out its latest ranking of the best restaurants in New York City!

With a little movement in the NYC Top 25, we have 5 restaurants BRAND NEW to the list.

At No. 1 we have newcomer Simon and the Whale, a beautiful neighborhood restaurant that draws its culinary inspiration from the American coasts. Nestled into the Freehand New York, the restaurant got its name from Owner Gabriel Stulman who was inspired by the whale-patterned gifts his son, Simon, had been receiving. Chef Matt Griffin created an American menu for the concept with several raw seafood starters, simple options like a fish sandwich with coleslaw, and more demanding dishes like the roast guinea hen. If you’re trying to kill two birds with one stone, Stulman also runs Studio upstairs at the Freehand, the No. 6 ranked restaurant on our list.

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Rising Culinary Stars in New York City's Restaurant Scene

Rising Culinary Stars in New York City's Restaurant Scene

Narrowing down the best of the best in New York City's food scene can be tough. Thankfully, there is our Foodable Top 25 to help guide us. From that list, we took the top ten leading chefs at New York City’s most beloved restaurants and highlighted them, uncovering their background to success. Here are the finest chefs in the city highlighted from Foodbable's Top 25 restaurants.

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Gusto 101’s Chef Zennoni Menu Offers Something For Everyone

Video Produced by Vanessa C. Rodriguez

Toronto is arguably one of Canada’s top foodie cities. Having 10 Torontonian restaurants listed in our Top 25 list alone, it’s not hard to believe why restaurateurs place such importance on not only its food, but architecture and restaurant experience as a whole, to stay ahead in the competitive market.

That is the case for: Gusto 101— a five-year-old restaurant located in the heart of downtown Toronto, which serves up modern takes on Southern Italian cuisine. The casual eatery was born inside a repurposed garage, featuring concrete, metals and an overall industrial look to the space.

“The Gusto design... Janet has quite the eye for that... it did win international design awards…,” said Gusto 101’s Executive Chef, Elio Zennoni, who was referring to Janet Zuccarini, Gusto 101’s owner, and the Hospitality Design Award the restaurant and Munge Leung interior design firm won back in 2013 in the casual restaurant category.

The space also features a retractable glass roof for the rooftop dining area that was allows Gusto 101 to provide a patio experience to its guests year round, especially during the fall and winter months.

To complement the innovative restaurant design, Gusto 101 is equipped with a tech forward kitchen which Chef Zennoni, who has been cooking for over 20 years now, notes it is something that appealed to him from the beginning.

“[This is] probably one of the most high-tech kitchens I’ve ever worked in. We have a full-induction burners, combi oven, so on and so forth…It’s at the top of the level of, as far as, the future of kitchens, and the future of restaurant design...,” says Zennoni.

Chef Zennoni, who was first introduced to international cuisine through shows like Wok with Yan and Pasquale’s Kitchen Express, likes to keep the Gusto 101 menu light, fresh and accessible. The menu features creative salads, pasta (which they prepare in-house), flatbread pizza, grilled detailed dishes and sweet desserts. Their goal is to provide plenty of options, something for everyone who visits.

In this Table 42 Vignette, Chef Zennoni demonstrates for us Gusto 101’s signature dish: a Tuscan Wood Fired Grill Pollo with grilled chicken, butternut squash puree, farro pickled radicchio, toasted hazelnuts.

He begins by first preparing a butternut squash puree with shallots, nutmeg and cream butter. After, he sautés some farro with pickled radicchio. The dish also carries toasted hazelnuts which are rolled on a flat surface to break off its dark brown skin and later are tossed in olive oil.

The chicken breast is lathered in olive oil and brine made out of salt, clove, garlic and fresh herbs. Then it is grilled and later sliced on a bias, or roughly 45 degree angle, “to fold it in on itself just so it looks like a chicken sitting in it’s own nest.”

After plating the beautifully prepared dish, Chef Zennoni adds the last touch --- a dash of Maldon sea salt flakes.

Watch the episode to learn more!

Chef George Sabatino's Aldine Restaurant Celebrates Year Two

Philadelphia’s burgeoning food scene has attracted talent from some of the top culinary hot spots in the country. You simply have to walk around Center City to see the growth and the richness in choice and experience that have become available to the Philly foodie.

“The current food scene in Philadelphia — the best way to describe it — is flourishing,” Chef George Sabatino of Aldine Restaurant said.

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In this “Table 42” vignette, we follow Philly native Sabatino, who opened Aldine Restaurant just two years ago, but the business has already made huge strides for being so young. (For one, this restaurant is No. 1 on Foodable’s Philadelphia Top 25.) Aldine’s kitchen reflects the cuisine and style that is entirely Sabatino’s own. What is his greatest culinary motivation and inspiration? To bring a local, farm-to-table cuisine with a passion for aesthetic and, of course, flavor that is uniquely Philadelphia.  

“I think a lot of chefs kind of go and travel… Go to Chicago or New York and work with big name chefs. I never did that. I kind of got fortunate — I’ve cooked here my entire time,” he added.

Our recent exploration of Philadelphia has revealed a group of culinarians with sense of pride and community.  Make sure to check out our other episodes Fast Casual Nation featuring Matt and Marie's, Table 42 Vignette featuring A. Kitchen, and Across the Bar featuring A.Bar as we continue to explore the growth in Philadelphia.

a.kitchen's Mike Fry Makes the Most of Summer Bounty in Philly

Video Produced by Vanessa C. Rodriguez

As the food scene in Philly continues to boom, we decided to make our way to the City of Brotherly Love to visit one of Philadelphia’s Top 25 Restaurants. a.kitchen, located at AKA Rittenhouse Square, boasts an impressive wine program along with its Modern American cuisine.

Mike Fry, sous chef at the High Street Hospitality Group restaurant, talks to us about how a.kitchen makes the most out of its summer bounty.

“We try to make use of preservations techniques, which is another staple of the Pennsylvania Dutch, taking the bounty of the summer, stretching it out throughout the seasons, which is something that has been going on forever in every culture, but Pennsylvania Dutch are especially good at it, as far as canning, preserving, drying, using that to stretch your produce throughout the year,” said Fry.

The menu is constantly changing in accordance with the seasons, however.

“If in December we know that we can not longer get [a] really high-quality tomato or squash, then we take it off the menu and replace it with something that we can get locally that is going to be good in the winter. For instance, root vegetables or something dry or preserved,” Fry added.

In this Table 42 Vignette, Sous Chef Mike Fry demonstrated for us a.kitchen’s signature dish: a seared Long Island duck breast with mushroom ragu, baby summer squash, and a mushroom exodus sauce.

He begins by rendering the duck breast on a pan to achieve a crispy skin with a medium rare center. Then, he seasoned wild mushrooms with olive oil and salt and simply grilled them. Baby summer squash is later sautéed in a pan for a short period of time because it does not require much cooking time. Finally, he creates a ginger and chilies sauce hydrated with duck stock to add depth to the dish before plating it to perfection.

From Shepherd to Chef: The Whole-Lamb Experience at Quince

Quince, with its contemporary, Californian cuisine and Chef Michael Tusk at the helm, has delighted patrons for more than a decade. Known for its high-quality experiences and equally high-quality ingredients, we visit this innovative, fine-dining restaurant to explore the idea of the shepherd-to-chef approach and whole-lamb integration into a menu in this episode of "Table 42."

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The Breakdown: Using the Whole Lamb

The strong and personal relationship between chef and farmer is important when providing customers a consistent experience throughout the menu. At the Quince back of house, Paul Barron joins Chef Michael Tusk and local farmer Don Watson of Napa Valley Lamb to break down a whole carcass of American lamb.

 "We basically have legs, and then the loin to the ribs, and then the rack, and then the shoulder from there," Watson said. "Until we got to this genre of chef, people didn't understand it and were challenged by it, but your flavor and texture is fantastic when that's slow-roasted."

The Mission

And why is this genre of chef broadening? Why are more and more chefs deepening the connections they have with local farms? According to Watson, it's something that just makes a lot of sense.

"It's like sustainable farming. ...The price for the whole lamb is considerably less. It takes the time and creativity of the chef...but he is able to get much higher-quality product to the table at a much more reasonable price, and then he gets to do it his way. He doesn't have to go with some industrial standard. He's doing it from the artistic perspective," he said. 

It's exciting for a young cook to walk into the kitchen and experience breaking down a carcass, as the practice is still not quite common. The opportunity makes all the difference, not only for the guest's final plate, but also in furthering the education of future chefs.

"The end goal is to really not waste anything, maximize the flavor," Tusk said.  

Watch the full episode to learn more.

Blackbrick Chef Serves Up Miami-Styled Chinese

 Blackbrick 

Blackbrick 

Miami-based Blackbrick, a Foodable Top 25 restaurant, features a Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and all-around Pan-Asian pantry to create its dishes.

It would make sense with Chef Richard Hales (who is Italian, Irish, and Filipino) at the helm. He says this background has influenced and inspired his extensive Blackbrick menu, which includes things like includes crispy cumin lamb chops, kimchi and bacon fried rice, kung pao tofu, and fried whole hogfish.

When Hales first imagined the concept, he saw a New York-styled Chinese restaurant. His success in Miami caused him to rethink that idea.

“I realized that that wasn’t relevant, even to me anymore,” Hales explains. And so it became a Miami-styled Chinese restaurant.

“I didn’t want the restaurant to be in-your-face Chinese; I wanted it to have little subtle touches.”

See the aesthetic and culture for yourself in this episode of “Table 42,” where Hales prepares Blackbrick’s signature dish — the dandan mian (Sichuan pork sauce, bucatini noodles).

The Wow Factor: How Miami’s Azul Gets It

Miami Top 25 Restaurant Azul has a different kind of “wow” factor that Chef de Cuisine Benjamin Murray, who has worked in different Japanese restaurants over the years, is very proud of.

In this “Table 42” vignette, Murray describes the philosophy behind the restaurant’s cuisine style as a modern American menu with a mix of Japanese and Asian ingredients using modern cooking techniques. The result is ultimately approachable, different, and interesting.

“We want to have dishes that are really well thought-out, that we pay a lot of attention and detail to,” Murray said. “The dishes that we do are plated beautifully — it takes a while to execute. Everything is cooked at the last second, so we don’t want to make such a big menu and have tons of options when we can make a smaller, impactful menu that’s really well thought-out and balanced.”

The plating process is also different at Azul, where the chef’s table provides a guests a premium view of the kitchen. “We plate at the pass, so it’s a little bit different than a regular kitchen. So you get to see everything that happens.”

In this episode, Murray — who grew up in a Miami home where his mother would cook traditional Japanese meals, as well as American-style meals — makes Azul’s beef tartare, showcasing a mix of bold flavors and textures like house-made Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, Japanese mustard, fried garlic, and caper brown gelée.

According to Locals, These Are the Top Restaurants in 8 U.S. Food Cities

According to Locals, These Are the Top Restaurants in 8 U.S. Food Cities

Spring is finally here, and, if you’re not lucky enough to live in an always-warm city, that means al fresco dining season is upon us. Whether your seating preference is inside or out, foodies and chefs alike are always looking to discover the best nearby spots to dig their forks into. And that’s what we’re here for. Unlike most “best of” lists, our editors have no say in the rankings. In fact, it’s completely automated based on what local diners are talking about across 17 social media platforms (like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Yelp). This is beneficial for travelers who would rather dine at a local joint versus a hyped-up touristy establishment, and to understand where your restaurant falls in comparison to the competition in your market.

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A Deeper Look Into the No. 1 Restaurants for June's Foodable Top 25

A Deeper Look Into the No. 1 Restaurants for June's Foodable Top 25

By Jessica Bryant, Managing Editor

This month, we unveiled six city-level Top 25s using June data. Again, Foodable’s Top 25 rankings are not hand-selected by editors or readers, but rather are pulled from unstructured data from the Restaurant Social Media Index in conjunction with Foodable Labs. We track local consumers across 17 social media platforms, including Twitter, Google+ and Yelp, who frequently engage with restaurant brands each month. Below, we take a deeper look into the No. 1 restaurants across the board for June.

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