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Foodies and chefs dish on city's hidden gems

Gael Greene recommends the grilled pizzas at Fiore.

Gael Greene recommends the grilled pizzas at Fiore. (Shirley Rodriguez) Photo Credit: Gael Greene recommends the grilled pizzas at Fiore. (Shirley Rodriguez)

It sometimes seems as though the same 15 or 20  restaurants get all the press attention in this city (Eataly, Jean-Georges, anything owned by Tom Colicchio). There are, however, thousands of lesser-known places worth a try. We asked New York chefs and foodies for their favorite off-the-radar restaurants. Try them. If you don’t enjoy, there’s always Mario Batali.

Gael Greene, critic/blogger,
Her pick: Fiore in Williamsburg. “I am always amazed when I arrive and it isn’t full,” she said (284 Grand St., Williamsburg, 718-782-8222).
Don’t leave without ordering: Grilled pizzas ($10-$12) and fried calamari with crispy zucchini ($9).

Sam Talbot, chef, Imperial No. Nine at Mondrian Soho (9 Crosby St., 212-389-1000)
His pick: Caracas, a Venezuelan arepas spot (93 E. Seventh St., 212-228-5062; 106-01 Shore Front Pkwy., Rockaway, 718-474-1709).
Don’t leave without ordering: The La Del Gato, with cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado ($6.50).

Ruth Reichl, editorial adviser,Gilt Taste
Her pick: Txikito, a Basque tapas joint in Chelsea (240 Ninth Ave., 212-242-4730).
Don’t leave without ordering: Octopus carpaccio ($15), grilled head-on shrimp ($13), blood sausage bundles ($8) and marinated anchovy with eggplant and piquillo peppers ($7).
Plus: When there’s a wait, Reichl goes across the street to El Quinto Pino (owned by the same people) and orders a sea urchin sandwich ($15) that she calls “the finest sandwich in the city.”

Jesse Schenker, chef/owner, Recette (328 W. 12th St., 212-414-3000)
His pick: Sake Bar Hagi, a subterranean yakitori spot in midtown (152 W. 49th St., 212-764-8549).
Don’t leave without ordering: The yakitori (grilled skewers, $1.50-$2.50). And,  “it’s the only place to get hamachi collar at 1 a.m.,” Schenker said.

Chris Leahy, executive chef, Lyon (118 Greenwich Ave., 212-242-5966)
His pick: Pongsri Thai Restaurant (165 W. 23rd St., 212-645-8808).
Don’t leave without ordering: The off-the-menu Moo Kum Wahn, a spicy BBQ- marinated pork served with chili-lime sauce and the Vietnamese steamed dumplings with shrimp and  pork ($6.95).

Cesare Casella, chef and owner, Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto (283 Amsterdam Ave., 212-877-4801)
His pick: The something-for-everyone Vietnamese eatery Nha Trang Centre (148 Centre St., 212-941-9292).
Don’t leave without ordering: One of the many Vietnamese pho (rice noodle) soups (with fresh herbs and sprouts on the side, $5.25-$6.50) and summer rolls (two for $4).

Lee Schrager, founder and director, New York City Wine and Food Festival
His pick: French Riviera-inspired Nice Matin (201 W. 79th St., 212-873-6423).
Don’t leave without ordering: Tuscan chicken cooked under a brick ($19.75).

Amy Brandwein, executive chef, Casa Nonna (310 W. 38th St., 212-736-3000)
Her pick: Japanese soup-and-noodle spot Totto Ramen (366 W. 52nd St., 212-582-0052).
Don’t leave without ordering: The blow-torch pork belly ($5.50) and the ramen, which has a “very rich but clear” broth, Brandwein said.

Chris Stang, blogger,
His pick: Post Office, a whiskey bar with a small kitchen (188 Havemeyer St., Williamsburg,
Don’t leave without ordering: The pulled pork sandwich ($7), deviled eggs ($5) and steak tartare ($14).

Andrew Steinthal, blogger,
His pick: Mas (farmhouse), a fine-dining restaurant that won’t break the bank (39 Downing St., 212-255-1790).
Don’t leave without ordering: The four-course, $68 prix fixe dinner, where you can choose from anything on the menu.


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