Often, people ask me for recommendations for restaurants and, in a city like New York, it is a bit challenging as there are so many places to go to! But, if I had to pick a few, it would be:
Katz's Deli is a bit crowded but it is an institution and their pastrami reuben is fantastic. But one of my favorite places is Junior's. Yes, it is also crowded (go before 12pm and 6pm), but the food is far better and you do not have the impression that you are eating on your neighbor's lap! My favorite dishes are: pastrami Reuben, potato latkes, matzo ball soup and salami sandwich. Of course, for dessert, you cannot miss the New York cheesecake! It is fantastic! Another good place is 2nd Avenue Deli.
If you are visiting, there are few things I would surely try in New York: burgers, steaks and pizza.
If you really want a burger that will knock your socks off, try The Brindle Room: it is an experience that will change your life. Their burger is juicy, with a patty that really taste meat and not a bunch of seasonings that can really screw up a burger. Five Napkin Burger is also one of my favorites and once you try their signature burger, you will understand why this restaurant got that name!
Shake Shack has also a good burger, but it is so crowded...
My all time favorite is Luzzo's! They make Neapolitan pizza with this fantastic crust that, although floppy, is crispy with some char on the outside that I love. They also use mozzarella di buffala that is, in my opinion, much better than regular mozzarella. They also have an outpost in TriBeCa called Da Mikele by Luzzo's that serves a fantastic square pizza called The Quadrate.
Less mentioned but always packed is Adrienne's Pizzbar in the Financial District: succulent pizzas, especially the Old Fashioned.
Going to Lombardi's is also worth the trip as it is the oldest pizzeria in the US.
There are so many steakhouses in New York that it is difficult to pick. On the top, I put Ruth's Chris: not only do they have a great quality of meat (very tender), but they also cook the steaks in butter! Yes, butter! They serve it on a 500 degrees Fahrenheit plate so you can hear it sizzling! Their crab cakes are also one of the best in town.
If you cannot go to Ruth's Chris, then The Old Homestead, being one of the oldest in the City will be a good choice (great ribeye).
If you are not from the US, this is a must have! BBQ in this country consists in slow cooking the meat, smothering it from time to time with either sauce or seasoning. It is a big thing here, not to be mistaken with grilling that is barbecue elsewhere.
My favorite place for BBQ is Southern Hospitality in Hell's Kitchen! What I love to do is to take many sides, perfect to share and taste these amazing dishes they serve. Get the rib, brisket and fried green tomatoes: they are a must have! And if you are still hungry, the banana pudding is amazing!
Le Tout Va Bien is a great small French joint located in Hell's Kitchen, serving classic dishes like escargots or veal kidneys. If you are less adventurous, they have French onion soup and steaks too!
Marseille is also one of my favorites: for brunch or dinner, they serve a fantastic cuisine from South of France.
Last is Le Relais de Venise: it is a steak-frites themed restaurant, meaning that the only choice is steak frites! Similar to the original restaurant in Paris, they serve these delicious pieces of sirloin that are bathed in a secret sauce so good, that you will dip your fries in it!
Eataly is also a place to go to: the food is delicious and they have great gelato (the hazelnut one is a killer) as well as Lavazza coffee that will make you travel to Italy for the price of a cup...
For a more elegant and pricier restaurant, I suggest Morimoto: great presentation, great food and good service with an atmosphere that is not stuffy.
I am more a carnivore than a vegetarian and, in the past, I was disappointed by some restaurants that serve only vegetarian food. Until I ate at Table Verte, a French Vegetarian restaurant (yes, it exists!) that unfortunately closed. If I had to name a vegetarian place that you would definitely like, I would say Taim: it serves some fantastic Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel. But if you go, do not miss the sabich a sublime sandwich made with eggplant.
If you want to treat yourself, there are fantastic places in New York. I recently discovered Gramercy Tavern that serves American cuisine. We went for the tasting menu and I have to say that the whole experience was amazing: great presentation, great taste and great service! Yes, everything was great!
Another fantastic restaurant is Colicchio & Sons: the food was incredible and the service one of the best we ever had.
There are fantastic places for dessert in New York! Two of them are for me the ultimate:
Spot Dessert Bar: they only serve desserts and the line to enter this tiny place can be long! But it is worth it! There, Chef Kittichai serves traditional desserts with an Asian twist. My favorites are the chocolate molten cake and the tearamisu (a must have).
Cafe Lalo: skip the food that is just ok, for a delicious dessert. Their banana pecan pie is fantastic.