Lauding meticulous service, elite clientele and the outstanding food delivered in the "calm oasis" in "throbbing Manhattan," Zagat crowned the Four Seasons one of the nation's 15 most iconic restaurants Tuesday.

"Instead of having a lot of other restaurants like other people have, we have only one. We don't make as much money," due to the single-minded devotion to excellence, said co-owner Julian Niccolini. "Every day, I try to make things better." Niccolini was gratified to see the Four Seasons as designated "a breed apart," and returned the compliment.

"Zagat is the most important guide in America. Forget about The Michelin!" Niccolini said.

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