The cult of celebrity chefs has been utterly transforming the restaurant industry, a phenomenon that continues at full boil. Are you obsessed with the salty globe-trotter Anthony Bourdain? Now’s the time to check out his home base, Brasserie Les Halles. Or are you more inclined to worship at the Crocs of Mario Batali? His Italian masterpiece Del Posto is here, too. And haven’t you been dying to try Daniel Boulud’s rustic sausages and burgers at his happening Bowery brasserie, DBGB Kitchen and Bar? The City features a number of culinary stars, from Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio (Craftbar) to Iron Chef‘s Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto). Also, look out for handsome rising star George Mendes, who creates refined Mediterranean food with Portuguese accents at the Flatiron District’s stylish Aldea. French megastar Alain Ducasse needs no introduction. His elegant restaurant Adour is the jewel in The St. Regis New York’s crown. Even though you might not actually see these celebrity chefs in person—after all, they’re off doing television shows, festivals, charity events and checking in on their other ventures around the globe—you’ll still be able to see (and savor) what made them famous in the first place. —Julie Besonen
George Mendes (Bouley, Wallsé) has opened his first restaurant, Aldea, on the edge of Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood. Aldea (the name is a take on the Portuguese word for “village”) was designed to pay homage to the chef’s heritage while evoking a relaxed, coastal vibe. Mendes returns to his roots with an approachable, satisfying menu that strikes a balance between modern techniques and classic flavors influenced by Spain, France and Portugal, including such items as arroz de pato, grilled Portuguese octopus and several seafood options.
A Voce Columbus
With a sleek and modern, yet traditional, Milanese aesthetic—and views of Central Park—the Columbus Circle outpost of the Italian restaurant on Madison Avenue offers rustic, old-school basics like baccalà, branzino and tagliatelle with pork and beef ragù within the Time Warner Center. Executive chef Missy Robbins, renowned for her pasta, serves lusty but sophisticated dishes that are sure to delight any palate. Robbins made a name for herself as chef of Chicago restaurant Spiaggia, one of the Obama family’s preferred spots.
Maze by Gordon Ramsay
Maze is the natural choice for those who want to sample dishes from British chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay at lower prices and in a more casual setting. Situated next to Ramsay’s fine-dining establishment at The London, this more accessible venture, based on the British restaurant of the same name, serves up inventive plates such as tortellini of beef short rib and pan-fried Tasmanian ocean trout.
East meets West at this popular Meatpacking District eatery. Executive chef Masaharu Morimoto—star of the Food Network’s Iron Chef and former executive chef at Nobu—marries Japanese standards with western flavors in such inspired dishes as the sashimi salad, yellowtail “pastrami” and the triply tantalizing Duck, Duck, Duck. Want to see the master at work? Visit the 1,500-square-foot exposition kitchen, where diners can watch Morimoto whip up their favorites.
Adour Alain Ducasse
Adour juxtaposes traditional elegance with modern sophistication to present a dining experience where guests share in Alain Ducasse’s passion for good food and quality service. Adour features a seasonal menu that reflects local tastes. The cuisine celebrates bold, natural flavors executed in a French style and developed to be served with wines, a particular focus of this restaurant, with its vast, diverse wine list and the wine-inspired decor.
Nougatine at Jean Georges
This often-overlooked gem on the Upper West Side offers a lighter—and more affordable—taste of super-celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s fine cuisine. (A three-course tasting menu at Jean Georges starts at $98, while Nougatine offers five courses for $68.) The fresh and airy ambience, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, also makes the restaurant an excellent option for lunch and brunch.
DBGB Kitchen and Bar
This brasserie-bistro brings internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud’s fine French-American cuisine to a casual downtown scene. Boulud—whose other NYC restaurants include Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne and Daniel—opened DBGB in 2009 in an industrial-yet-cozy Bowery spot, equipped with executive chef Jim Leiken and a generous list of craft beers and affordable wines. While main course selections include burgers, steak frites and salmon, the selection of house-made sausages shine as the restaurant’s specialty.
Maialino is a Roman-style trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel from Danny Meyer, a superstar among foodies and the creator of Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, The Modern and numerous other cuisine ventures. Thoughtfully designed by the Rockwell Group, Maialino captures the warmth and comfort of a traditional Roman trattoria, reimagined for present-day New York City. Serving lovingly prepared Italian cooking from executive chef Nick Anderer, the menu draws its inspiration from the classic dishes found throughout Rome and features fresh, seasonal ingredients. In the center of the restaurant is Maialino’s cucina, featuring a salami, cheese and antipasto station on one side with a coffee, dessert and bread station on the other.
Fans of Bravo’s Top Chef love chef Tom Colicchio for his bluntness. Patrons of his New York eateries, however, crave Colicchio’s rustic comfort food. At Craftbar, Craft’s casual sister restaurant, the chef applies his culinary philosophy—simple food made from the finest ingredients—to informal dining. The seasonal menu features a variety of cheese dishes, charcuterie, hearty pastas and Colicchio’s famous veal-ricotta meatballs.
With high ceilings, a striking central staircase and opulent columns, Del Posto’s distinctive coolness seems equally at home on the edge of the Meatpacking District or in Vegas. And this posturing is backed up by the epicurean muscle of all-star trio Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich. The menu caters to lovers of experimental Italian cuisine and those in search of a destination for a romantic rendezvous. Dishes change frequently, and the team excels at inventive pastas, original fish preparations and luscious desserts.
Brasserie Les Halles
Known as the home of celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain, Brasserie Les Halles is a destination for informal French cuisine in the style of old Parisian market district brasseries. Open from 7:30am to midnight daily, the restaurant offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner selections, including a hamburger with foie gras terrine and truffle sauce (a house special), various seafood options and casual “assiettes,” or café platters, like quiche, hanger steak salad and the croque monsieur. An extensive drink menu features an impressive selection of brandy, scotch and barista-prepared coffees.