AFAR’s New York–based team weighs in on their favorite places to eat in NYC that opened in 2018.
Even as a local, it can be difficult to keep pace with all the exciting new restaurants opening in New York City throughout the year. Good thing AFAR’s in-the-know team members love to eat. From a Vietnamese place in Brooklyn to a downtown bistro that everyone’s talking about, here are 10 of the best new restaurants that opened in New York in 2018 that AFAR can personally recommend.
Ever since Frenchette opened on a quiet stretch of West Broadway in April 2018, the nouveau French bistro has been the New York reservation to get. And the buzz is legit. The two-room space is a draw in itself—think glammed up Parisian café in the back with a gorgeous, curved art deco bar in the front that positively thrums with hopeful diners angling for a table. The menu, led by Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, two chefs who’ve opened all of Keith McNally’s New York restaurants, transcends the definition of French fare. Yes, you can order a quintessential leek vinaigrette but also decadent ris de veau (sweetbreads) amped up with truffle jus and an artichoke tagine with layered zesty-but-tannic notes. The wine list is just as intriguing, with a predilection toward natural wines and, happily, a strong penchant for pét-nat.
Tip: Frenchette’s new daily lunch service is much easier to get into than dinner. For dinner without a reservation, get there right when it opens and snag a seat at the zinc-trimmed bar. Then, order a refreshing Zou Bijou cocktail (gin, white armagnac, yellow chartreuse, grapefruit bitters) and plan to stay awhile. —Arabella Bowen, Digital Content Director
Upper West Side
Opened in November 2018, Leonti serves Italian fare in a downtown chic space on the Upper West Side with dim, warm lighting and art deco motifs throughout the restaurant. The pastas are served in appetizer-sized portions, so you can enjoy the cinnamon fettuccine wild boar ragù or casoncelli alla bresciana, and still have room for the chicken in pastella served with lemon agrodolce and sage or the stuffed rabbit with caramelized cipollini and pistachio for an entrée. —Irene Wang, Senior Integrated Marketing Manager
Jackson Heights, Queens
Opened in June 2018, by local Jackson Heights residents with chef Tony Liu (formerly of Morandi) at the helm, The Queensboro is all about championing the neighborhood. The seasonal menu is made with produce procured from the nearby Jackson Heights Greenmarket, while the art and live music that fill the warm and inviting space comes from local artists and musicians. For dinner, order several plates to share family-style—the garlic clam bread and the inventive flatbread pizzas with ingredients like eggplant, currants, and cocoa are a must. Brunch enthusiasts will enjoy the sweet potato chorizo hash, while tipplers will be impressed with the ambitious cocktail menu: Each carefully crafted drink is mixed with homemade bitters. —Katie Galeotti, Director of Marketing & Special Projects, and Maria Stegner, Senior UX Designer
Di An Di
Even though it’s located in a historically Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn, Di an Di might just be the best Vietnamese restaurant in the city. It has delicious, authentic food, great cocktails, and fun, thoughtful design elements (palm-tree wallpaper, lots of plants, and roomy booths). It opened back in May and has been packed ever since (there’s consistently a two-hour wait). Must-orders include the char-grilled Japanese eggplant, the cha ca la long, and the beef pho with fatty brisket and a lightly poached egg. —Natalie Beauregard, Editor, Travel Guides
When Manhatta, the latest from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, opened on the 60th floor of a skyscraper downtown last summer, it quickly became one of the best places to dine with a view in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, it’s also become one of the hardest reservations to land because of that. The $78 three-course prix fixe is a great value, but if you don’t want to wait for months to get a seat, try walking in for a seat at the bar. You get not only the same views of the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge, but also access to an exclusive bar snack menu with a croque madame made with quail eggs and fried chicken bites that are more delicious than the fancy French fare served at the tables. —Lyndsey Matthews, Destination News Editor
Una Pizza Napoletana
Lower East Side
Picking the best pizza in New York is controversial, but Una Pizza Napoletana might just be it. Originally located in the East Village, the owner moved it to San Francisco in 2009. After nearly a decade, it returned to New York in April 2018, opening on the LES in partnership with the team from Contra and Wildair. In the wildly modern space, the glass-walled kitchen lets you to watch chefs pull pizza out of the white-tiled oven while you eat. With only five pizzas on the menu at any given time, expect flavorful variations on tomato and cheese with a heavenly crust. Go on a Saturday, when it offers the special Apollonia (buffalo mozzarella, Parmigiano, egg, salami, black pepper, garlic, and basil), and pair it with the beef tartare, which comes with pistachios and Castelvetrano olives. —Natalie Beauregard, Editor, Travel Guides
Even though Papilles—meaning “taste buds” in French—has been open since June, word isn’t quite out yet about this bijou space decorated with blue velvet chairs and cool gray walls off Tompkins Square Park. While you can still walk in on a Friday night without a reservation, don’t expect that to last long. The “cuisine vagabonde” 24-year-old Chef Andrea Calstier produces using all organic, non-GMO ingredients inspired by his travels is phenomenal—especially considering he does it all in a kitchen smaller than most New York closets. To start, order the warm citrus-cured mackerel with wasabi-avocado crémeux and yuzu crème fraîche. Continue with the duck breast served with celery root, Asian pear, and green cardamom. If you’d like to linger, you can’t go wrong with the cheese plate. —Lyndsey Matthews, Destination News Editor
The latest venture from Carlos Suarez, owner of popular West Village mainstays Rosemary’s, Bobo, and Claudette, Rosemary’s Pizza became an instant neighborhood hit when it opened on the corner of Perry Street and Greenwich Avenue in June 2018. The focus: Neapolitan-style pizzas made with locally sourced ingredients—organic flour, from an upstate New York mill, for the pies, paired with seasonal toppings from Hudson Valley farms. The tight, seven-pizze menu runs the gamut from classic (margharita) to unexpected (spicy brussels sprouts with almonds). The roasted pork and fennel pie is both savory and sweet, thanks to a smattering of burnt orange on top (genius). While it’s big enough to share, it’s so good, you won’t want to. —Arabella Bowen, Digital Content Director
Fans of Lilia will be delighted to find that Misi, Missy Robbins’s second, more casual restaurant in Williamsburg lives up to the hype. Opened in the ground-floor space of a sleek new apartment building on Kent Avenue in September, the menu—consisting of just pastas, vegetable sides, and gelato—makes up for the slightly cold space. The simpler pastas are the best (try the fettuccine with butter, Parmigiano, and black pepper or the sheep’s milk ricotta-filled occhi), and the whole roasted eggplant and grilled baby artichokes antipasti are so good you’ll forget there’s no entrée section of the menu here. Just be sure not to fill up on the savory stuff—the mint stracciatella gelato cannot be missed. —Natalie Beauregard, Editor, Travel Guides
This brand new cocktail bar that opened in December 2018 in the northern part of Gramercy serves well-executed cocktails paired with a particularly robust menu of eats so you can let happy hour go as long as you’d like. Several tables are available in the dimly lit space, but grab a seat at the white marble bar and order a Huntmans (Aberlour 12 year, Laphroaig 10 year, Pedro Ximenez sherry, Amargo Vallet) or Five and Dime (Bombay Dry Gin, apricot liqueur, lemon, orgeat, Angostura, and Peychaud’s Bitters) to enjoy with the blistered shishito peppers and fish tacos. —Laney Boland, Senior Integrated Marketing Manager
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