Big Apple Bites: NYC’s 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Old Favorites Get a Facelift in New Menus
New York City is renowned for its never-ending parade of hot new restaurants. But in 2023, even some of the city's most established and beloved eateries are getting modern makeovers. These legacy restaurants aren’t just surviving—they’re thriving with refreshed menus, remixed interiors, and renewed energy.
At The Odeon in TriBeCa, a downtown staple since the ‘80s, the vibe remains hip and buzzing. But now there’s a brand new dinner menu courtesy of chef Salvatore Lapenta. He’s breathing new life into Odeon classics like the burger while adding seasonal composed plates like pan-roasted black sea bass with sunchoke purée. The majestic Round Room at the Algonquin Hotel in Midtown is another New York icon, famous for hosting the literary circles of Dorothy Parker and company back in the day. In 2022, it got a spectacular renovation including restored murals and crystal chandeliers. Executive chef Ashfer Biju has introduced a contemporary American menu with luxe ingredients like foie gras, caviar, and Wagyu beef.
Further uptown, Upper East Side favorite Casa Lever is coming up on its hundredth birthday in 2025. But Italy’s first fine dining restaurant in New York has never looked better after a recent face lift. Now helmed by Michelin-starred chef Antonino Cannavino, the Northern Italian menu sings with classics like vitello tonnato and gnocchi alla bava alongside elegant composed dishes. Another centenarian, The Russian Tea Room just off Carnegie Hall has been feeding New York’s theater crowds since the 1920s. After being closed for renovations in 2021, it’s once again serving up its signature chicken Kiev from a completely redesigned kitchen under executive chef Joshua Brown.
While staying true to tradition, Chez Napoleon in Midtown East has introduced new French dishes like steak au poivre and sole meunière. Just south in Koreatown, old-school Korean barbecue joint Miss Korea got a modern redesign in 2022. But it’s still dishing out the KBBQ favorites on tables with grills built right in. Up on the Upper West Side, neighborhood favorite French bistro Nice Matin unveils its new menu in early 2023. Expect classic Brasserie fare like steak frites, but also updated seafood dishes and other French specialties courtesy of new executive chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark.
What else is in this post?
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Old Favorites Get a Facelift in New Menus
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - International Flavors Heat Up the Scene
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Celebrity Chefs Bring Star Power to Dining
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Innovative Concepts Reimagine the Dining Experience
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Hotspots Pop Up in Unexpected Locations
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Classics Reopen With Modern Twists
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Fresh Takes on Iconic Cuisines Debut
- Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Neighborhood Gems Shine in Low-Key Settings
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - International Flavors Heat Up the Scene
New Yorkers love to eat global. So it’s no surprise that international flavors are heating up the city’s dining scene in 2023. We’re seeing chefs take inspiration from around the world and fuse techniques, ingredients, and concepts from their home countries with New York’s singular energy. The result? Exciting new restaurants that provide a passport-stamping food tour without leaving the five boroughs.
Take Rosemead. This brand new Taiwanese spot in Chinatown comes courtesy of chef-owner Jonathan Wu. Previously at Fung Tu, he’s now branched out on his own to spotlight the intensely flavorful cuisine of his homeland. Dishes like three cup chicken, peppery sautéed cucumbers, and braised pork belly buns draw from street food stalls and night markets in Taipei. Meanwhile, the beverage program quenches thirst with Asian-inspired cocktails like the Jin Juu—chilled sake with yuzu, ginger honey and lemon. Just opened in October 2022, Rosemead is already drawing crowds for these authentic island flavors.
Further downtown in the East Village, Gazala’s Place transports diners to the markets and kitchens of Morocco. Named for chef Abdellah Elidrissi’s mother, it focuses on specialties from Fez, the Moroccan city where Elidrissi grew up cooking with his family. Generous portions of aromatic tagines, fluffy couscous, and dishes like lamb kefta with a slow-cooked egg highlight the nuances of Moroccan home cooking. Elidrissi aims to provide a true cultural immersion for guests through Gazala’s cozy, laid-back atmosphere and stellar hospitality.
For a taste of South America, make a reservation at the brand new Ceiba in Williamsburg. Chef Luis Arevalo showcases the diversity of Latin American cuisines, blending Brazilian, Peruvian, Colombian and Venezuelan influences. House made arepas, empanadas, and tamales provide a starchy base for richly sauced proteins like camarones al ajillo garlic shrimp. Vibrant ceviches made tableside provide bursts of citrus and heat. Arevalo also utilizes indigenous ingredients like yuca, plantains, and Peruvian corn to create authentic yet approachable flavors. With Ceiba, he’s bringing his own Latin heritage to the Brooklyn food scene.
Meanwhile in Nolita, Call Me Gaby transports diners to the Mediterranean coast. Chef Gaby Dahan flags the sunny, relaxed flavors of the French and Italian Rivieras in composed seafood dishes like sole picatta and branzino with aioli sauce. Rustic plates of spaghetti alle vongole, niçoise salads, and pissaladière showcase Dahan’s passion for the regional cooking of Nice, Cannes, and Monaco where he grew up. Spectacular French-focused cocktails like the Bees Knees Spritz and a smart European wine list complete this escape without ever leaving Manhattan.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Celebrity Chefs Bring Star Power to Dining
The allure of fame extends beyond Hollywood in 2023, with celebrity chefs leveraging their star power to open some of NYC’s hottest new restaurants. These big names have an instant built-in fan base, drawing buzz to their very first ventures in the city. Yet it’s not all about hype—their culinary cred at acclaimed eateries across the globe precedes them.
British chef Angus Winchester won fans stateside hosting MasterChef UK before opening the smash hit Luna Luna in Brooklyn with his wife Rebecca. Now they’re crossing the East River to open Edyn in Manhattan's NoMad neighborhood. The ingredient-driven New American menu focuses on salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads fired up in a wood-burning oven. Winchester’s mastery of flavor combinations shines through in sandwiches like pastrami paired with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
At the newly minted Cicchetti Club in Flatiron, you can taste creations from Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani’s signature "Fabio’s Kitchen" menu. Inspired by his training in Italian restaurants across the U.S., Viviani plates up Italian comfort food like lasagna Bolognese, chicken parm, and spaghetti and meatballs. But he also flexes his fine dining skills on composed dishes like seared branzino with puttanesca sauce. Handmade pastas, heritage breed steaks, and Italian wines round out the menu at this temple to regional Cal-Ital cuisine.
Further downtown, Food Network celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli is finally opening her own restaurant. After making her name at upscale Manhattan spots like Butter and The Darby, Darby will showcase Guarnaschelli’s trademark New American fare. The a la carte menu stars composed plates and wood-fired items cooked in a custom applewood grill. Her fame and culinary prowess is sure to draw eager diners from day one.
Across the East River in Williamsburg, siblings Bricia and Mark Lopez of Top Chef and Chopped fame have opened their first joint restaurant venture. At Barkada, they mash up their Filipino heritage with cooking skills honed in NYC kitchens. Traditional Filipino breakfasts like garlic fried rice and longanisa sausage start the day. Lunch and dinner star composed plates like lechon kawali pork belly and chicken adobo made with modern techniques. Their fame provides a platform to share cherished family recipes.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Innovative Concepts Reimagine the Dining Experience
New York is a city that never sits still, and its dining scene is no exception in 2023. This year, innovative concepts are totally reimagining the way New Yorkers experience restaurants. From interactive meals to reservations systems powered by NFTs, these pioneering eateries are redefining dining for the digital age. And they showcase how technology can actually enhance that most fundamental human ritual of breaking bread.
Take Toki Underground, the hot new omakase spot in the East Village helmed by chef Riki Saito. Diners don’t just passively receive the progression of bites typical at sushi counters. Here, everyone dons VR goggles and headphones to visually travel through Japanese landscapes and seascape while tasting each piece. This virtual reality experience immerses guests in the culture behind dishes like hamachi, uni, and kampachi to make each morsel more meaningful. The cutting-edge tech paired with stellar sushi has made Toki the impossible reservation of the season.
The Japanese influence continues at Ginza Robot Restaurant in Midtown. This fully automated eatery staffed by polite robot waiters reflects how AI is reshaping hospitality. Diners place orders via tablet, and dishes like ramen and sushi arrive via conveyor belts. Machine learning allows the robots to get better at interacting with patrons over time. It’s a glimpse into the future of automation. But so far, nothing beats the robots’ adorable charm as they sing Happy Birthday off-key.
Dinnertable takes innovation to the streets with its mobile restaurant inside a converted food truck. It parks at a new location in a different NYC neighborhood each night. This element of surprise shapes a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience. Chefs Eric See and Andy Chuang whip up a changing menu from seasonal ingredients as locals gather at picnic tables nearby. By bringing the food to the people, Dinnertable allows different communities to connect over dinner nightly.
If that’s not pop-up enough, Cloud Kitchen takes things even more ephemeral. This “restaurant” operates solely through delivery apps for limited-time-only events. Changing chefs do weekly takeovers with themed menus before vanishing. Parisian pastry pop-ups give way to pizza parties then Banh Mi weekends. By staying agile, Cloud Kitchen provides access to talents that could never afford long-term leases. And it thrills foodies with its ever-evolving concepts.
Finally, for true exclusivity, Reserve Blockchain Table now lets people bid for reservations at in-demand eateries using cryptocurrency. The reservations are minted into NFTs securing your table. Bragging rights are built right in, with the ability to trade coveted slots. Backed by celebrity chef Eric Ripert, Reserve Blockchain Table’s crypto approach makes scoring seats at hotspots like Eleven Madison Park more competitive – for better or worse.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Hotspots Pop Up in Unexpected Locations
In 2023, some of New York’s coolest new restaurants are blooming in unexpected locations far from the buzzy main drags. Visionary chefs are transforming outer-borough industrial buildings, overlooked side streets, and hotel basements into culinary hotspots. Diners who take a chance trekking off the beaten path are rewarded with food and vibes you simply can’t find in the usual high-rent neighborhoods.
Out in Long Island City, Queens, chef Leigh Marling has launched Furca inside a converted auto body shop. This sleek, modern space nearly disguises its gritty origins. But the location allows Marling to get playful with delivered-daily seafood in dishes like salted cod croquettes and an uni flatbread lavished with Oregon truffle. Drink options range from funky natural wines to cocktails on tap. Despite its far-flung industrial location, Furca has become the hippest dinner ticket thanks to Marling’s daring, hyper-seasonal tasting menus.
The oddest address in Manhattan has to belong to The Back Room at Bandit. Chef Sam Talbot has opened this discreet 12-seat restaurant inside the lobby bathroom of the new Bandit hotel in the Financial District. A hidden door disguised as a restroom leads into a lavish space with jewel-box booths, velvet banquettes, even a small hidden bar. Talbot embraces the speak-easy theme in playful takes on comfort food like the “green goddess” hot dog with cucumber relish and lobster mac and cheese. With its hidden entrance and impromptu vibe, The Back Room attracts downtown creatives willing to find the unmarked door.
Venture deep into the outer boroughs to find Long Island City’s Factory LIC. Becca Pizzi and Nate Berk opened their eclectic all-day cafe in a former taxi parts warehouse. Exposed brick walls and repurposed factory lighting retain the building’s gritty appeal. Berk whips up Aussie/Asian-inspired breakfasts like charred shrimp cake Benedict alongside lunchtime sandwiches like braised short rib banh mi. House-baked breads and pastries supply the carbs. Despite the trek to industrial Queens, Pizzi and Berk are trailblazing their own destination dining deep in LIC.
Hidden beneath Midtown’s Freehand hotel, the stripping-down continues at Egghead by Tavern on the Green. A vintage pizza oven is the centerpiece of this whimsical basement diner from Major Food’s chef Sam Yoo. He riffs on diner fare and pizza in Eggs Cosa Nostra with Italian pork sausage and Calabrian chilies. Over-the-top sundaes, spiked milkshakes, and cheeky cocktails guarantee a good time at this playful, ironic ode to greasy spoons. Its concealed location and cheeky irreverence attract after-hours hospitality crowds.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Classics Reopen With Modern Twists
After temporary closures, New York institutions are swinging open their doors once more in 2023. But these iconic restaurants aren’t just picking up where they left off. Instead, revived classics like The Four Seasons, The Oyster Bar and Keens Steakhouse unveil dramatically refreshed spaces and modernized menus to woo a new generation.
At The Four Seasons, architect Belmont Freeman helmed a soaring redesign for the famed mid-century interior. It still stuns with massive floral arrangements and that fabled pool room, but lighter tones and contemporary art inject fresh energy into the space. On the plate, executive chef John Johnson remains inspired by the heritage of seasonal American fare perfected during The Four Seasons’ heyday. Yet he also introduces modern techniques in dishes like butter-poached lobster with black truffle sabayon and seared foie gras with pickled huckleberry.
The Oyster Bar inside the vaulted halls of Grand Central Terminal looks almost untouched since its opening in 1913. But now executive chef Sandy Ingber sources sustainable, small-producer oysters and seafood from around the world for his dramatically refreshed raw bar and fish menu. Contemporary composed plates like sea urchin spaghetti with salmon roe and roasted black cod with shiitake dashi balance the institution’s most classic dishes like Oyster Pan Roast.
After a two-year closure, Keens Steakhouse reopened in new hands, but remains committed to its legacy as Manhattan's oldest steakhouse. Inside the 1885 landmark festooned with legendary tobacco pipes, the menu does still star hefty dry-aged porterhouses. However chef Danny Lledó also brings contemporary Spanish flair to meats with aceite de oliva, pimentón and sherry vinegar. Composed plates of tenderloin crusted in Marcona almonds or Wagyu with a suquet sauce demonstrate his lighter approach. And with an expanded seafood menu plus elevated sides, today's Keens is clearly not your great-grandfather's steakhouse.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Fresh Takes on Iconic Cuisines Debut
New York is a melting pot of cuisines from around the world. In 2023, we’re seeing talented chefs put playful new spins on some of the city’s most iconic immigrant fare. These fresh takes celebrate culinary traditions while making them feel totally modern. Dinosaurs like me remember when finding “authentic” New York Chinese or Italian meant trekking to the outer boroughs. Now, young chefs are getting creative with the classics right in Manhattan. The flavors may get an update, but the soul stays true.
At Pinch Spice Market in SoHo, Anita Lo adds elegant Southeast Asian touches to Chinese favorites. Dishes like kung pao Brussels sprouts wok-charred with Sichuan peppercorns and chili crispy duck with pineapple sambal riff on Chinatown legends. Lo’s fine dining background lets her balance the explosive spice profiles found in China’s Sichuan province and beyond. Playful cocktails like the Fortune Cookie with amaro, almond orgeat, and vanilla reinvent Chinese-American concepts. And the moody, sultry dining room is worlds away from the Fluorescent-lit joints downtown.
Further east, a new generation of chefs is reinvigorating the red sauce joints Little Italy is known for. At San Marzano in Nolita, Alex Palma serves up chicken parm and linguine alle vongole like grandma used to make, but with an elegant touch. A dish like cacio e pepe gnocchi in a parmesan broth shows his finesse with Italian fundamentals. Over in the West Village, Mario Carbone of Carbone fame is opening a casual Rivery Park outpost focusing on Roman-Jewish cooking like carciofi alla giudia. These spots capture the soul of Italian American fare but ditch the kitsch.
Uptown, tzatziki sauce gets an artisanal upgrade at Yaya’s Greek Kitchen. James Beard-nominated chef Maria Loi puts a modern spin on hearty Hellenic classics like pastitsio and lamb souvlaki. But new offerings like charred octopus with white bean skordalia and whole roasted branzino perfumed with lemon update the Greek experience. Loi embraces rustic, uncomplicated cooking techniques that let top-quality ingredients sing for themselves. Yaya’s cozy townhouse location provides a more upscale setting for time-honored recipes from Loi’s childhood on the island of Zakynthos.
Even that most iconic New York staple, the bagel, gets a makeover at The Brownsville in South Brooklyn. This new-school Jewish deli from chef-owner Nate Adler proves the boroughs have plenty bagel game too. House-made kettle-boiled and wood-fired bagels join flagpoles and pretzel bagels in flavors like poppy, onion and “everything.” Shmears include whitefish and olive, cranberry honey and labneh options beyond just scallion or plain. Sour pickles, smoked fish platters and old-school Jewish deli fare complete The Brownsville experience. By bridging old and new world techniques, Adler brings coveted outer-borough authenticity to a beloved carb.
Big Apple Bites: NYC's 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings for 2023 - Neighborhood Gems Shine in Low-Key Settings
While New York's hotspots tend to grab the headlines, some of the city's most exciting openings in 2023 are neighborhood restaurants shining in low-key, relaxed settings far from the hype. At these community gems, the focus stays squarely on delivering exceptional food, drinks, hospitality and vibes to locals who live nearby. Diners get to enjoy top culinary talents in cozy, almost under-the-radar spaces that feel like your favorite neighborhood joint. That intimacy and connection creates a distinctly local flavor you simply can't recreate in the middle of bustling Midtown or sceney Downtown.
Take co-owner and executive chef Leah Cohen of Top Chef fame. After making her name at elegant Manhattan venues, she headed outer-borough with Pig & Khao on Clinton Street in Lefferts Garden. This laid-back, Filipino-inspired spot features exposed brick walls, handmade textiles and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the neighborhood. While dishes like sinigang clams with tamarind broth and slow-braised kare kare oxtail spotlight Cohen's fine dining chops, the vibe here is all about community. She sources many hyperlocal ingredients from the adjacent urban farm and has created a true neighborhood living room.
Further out in Ridgewood, Queens, talented young chef Josh Grinker is converting a former dollar store into his first solo project, For Goodness Bake. After cooking at Michelin-starred spots, he's pivoting to indulgent baked goods and Jewish comfort fare perfected during his childhood in Long Island. Rugelach, hamantaschen, rainbow bagels and babka will tempt those with a sweet tooth. Heartier plates include chicken matzoh ball soup, pastrami melts and crisp potato latkes topped with apple compote and sour cream. Grinker is baking his heritage into familiar flavors in an unexpected location.
Up in Harlem, married chefs Chase and Katie Brazell have taken over a former laundromat to open Sunken Hundred. This cozy daytime cafe focuses on bounced-with-love sandwiches and salads made to order, plus 찌개, 밥, banchan and other homey Korean dishes that nod to Katie's family background. At night, it transitions into a snug neighborhood wine bar pouring funky Old World bottles. The non-traditional space promotes that intimate feeling of discovering a new favorite local spot as Harlem continues to flourish.
Down on the Lower East Side, Evan Hanczor of Egg Shop fame has returned to his neighborhood roots to open Decca off Houston Street. No reservations are accepted at this laid-back trattoria focusing on handmade pastas and sauces, whole roasted fish, heaping antipasti platters and natural wines. With just 28 seats plus a wee bar, Decca provides a true neighborhood experience without the difficulty of scoring a table at so many Manhattan spots. It really feels like your vivacious Nonna is cooking--if she lived next door on the hippest street on the LES.