Chef concierge • January 2017
The Seattle-born super chef and star of ABC’s The Chew is lauded as America’s king of Italian cuisine, with a culinary empire of more than 25 restaurants across the USA – 10 of which are in his adopted hometown of New York City. Here, Mario shares his gastronomic go-tos in the Big Apple
Weekend brunch worth battling the queues for
Despite its reputation for sometimes-debilitating hipness, brunch can also be supremely pleasant. I go to Morandi for a proper spaghetti carbonara to soak up the previous night’s demons, washed down with a hair-of-the-dog Bloody Mary.
Breakfast spot worth getting up early for
I go to Buvette (pictured above) in the West Village for breakfast because it’s close and reliably delicious, but I’d travel halfway across the world for their eggs. Don’t miss the croque madame, a luscious and Instagram-worthy concoction. The dining room is covered in French flea-market finds, assembled into a package that is distinctly New York.
Best ‘grab-and-go’ snack
Lumpia is a Filipino dish similar to spring rolls. I was unfamiliar with them until I experienced Lumpia Shack at Smorgasburg. Now the bright flavours are also available at a bricks-and-mortar snackbar on Greenwich Avenue.
Local independent that deserves to stay in business
Pearl Oyster Bar is probably my favourite lunch spot in the world. What started as a 20-seat seafood counter has expanded to a small restaurant serving perfectly seasoned seafood year-round. I used to go before dinner service at Babbo (and sometimes after). It’s approaching its 20th anniversary, and I hope it will still be around for its 50th.
Lunch spot for taking care of business
I have had the pleasure of working with the exacting genius of Mark Ladner for almost two decades. At Del Posto (pictured above) he creates dishes that would impress anyone from anywhere in the world, including the pasta cognoscenti of Bologna. If you really want to seal a deal, this is the spot.
Hip hangouts where children are welcome
If you want to mingle with the cool kids in Brooklyn but prefer to avoid the tight-jeaned tourists of Williamsburg, go to Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook. They smoke meat on oak wood, with simple seasoning for beef ribs that are worth waiting for.
Foodie souvenir to take home
When I try to recreate a New York experience for my sons at college, I send an appetising gift package from Russ and Daughters, including bialy (a rustic, bagel-style roll with a savoury onion filling), gravlax, scallion cream cheese and a babka (a sweet cake) for good measure.
Where to impress a date
Cosme (pictured above) was the venue of President Obama and Michelle’s recent New York date night. It’s not the Mexican food that you find in southern California, Mexico City or Queens, but Daniela Sotto-Innes is a whizz-kid, and her duck carnitas are a thing of beauty.
A reliable place for pre-dinner drinks
The elevated plaza level of La Sirena, our first opening in New York in over a decade. There are more than 100 outdoor seats on the storey above the street, so you can sip an Aperol spritz or gin and tonic in bliss from 5-7pm, before the dinner rush.
Foodie experience worth leaving town for
One of the best meals I’ve eaten recently was at Don Peppe’s in Ozone Park, Queens. The scungilli alla marinara (marine snails in a tomato sauce) and linguine with clams are perfect, in that Hollywood Mafioso sort of way.
Mario’s latest cookbook, Big American Cookbook (£32.99, Life and Style), is out now.