First, apologies that my scope of interest actually includes more than Manhattan. I saw a cryptic message in another post referring to a "best of" board but that doesn't appear in the category list; I couldn't find it; the only options that seem to be available are "Manhattan" and "Outer Boroughs". It's as if never the twain shall meet - as if almost nobody going to New York will have an interest in visiting places possibly in BOTH areas.
However for practical purposes I think I can assume most of the places of interest for me will be in Manhattan (it's where I'll be staying, and spending most of my time) - although I'm quick to point out that convenience to where I happen to be at the time is NOT! a consideration in the slightest; I'll gladly travel anywhere reachable by subway, regardless of how out-of-the-way it is. So feel free to recommend outer-borough places, as you see fit.
What I'd like particularly to find:
1) A *really good* breakfast place; NOT!!! brunch orientated, I mean breakfast.
2) A definitive New York pizza.
3) A definitive NY bagel.
4) Somewhere absolutely at the pinnacle of American fine dining; they should have a recognisably American cuisine as opposed to something definitely foreign (e.g. French, Italian, Japanese, etc) - although of course foreign *influences* are fine.
5) At least one good representative mid-range restaurant.
6) A top-notch espresso
7) A "cheap and cheerful" option - high quality, but budget pricing.
For context, here's a very brief summary of some places I tried last time:
Gotham B&G (as an example of type 4): It was very good, my type of place in many ways - but I would say borderline great as opposed to clearly world-class great.
Clinton Street Baking Company (as an example of type 1): Decent, but I really wish the meats in particular were of a higher standard. Good sausage particularly would have been nice. Baked goods I think were a bit too sweet.
Norma's (as an example of type 1): All concept and no substance. Clearly brunch-orientated. And the quality was basically standard. They focus more on serving unusual interpretations of dishes than in making the base quality of the dishes served particularly high.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar (as an example of type 5): Awesome. I must say, though, as a Brit, there was something strangely English about the whole place. It's the kind of restaurant that you'll find everywhere in London. I'll go back, but I'd like to find a different place of similar calibre.
Abraço (as an example of type 6): The coffee was good, and certainly the best I've had while there, but certainly it wasn't even in the same galaxy as many I've had in Italy (or even Seattle). I get the feeling it's possible to do better. Ideas?
Meatball Shop (as an example of type 7): Didn't really get the hype. Not bad, but I've had many meatballs as good or better than this - even for the same price.
Burger Shack (as an example of type 7): Unlike Norma's, all substance and no concept. The burgers were exceptional. Only thing to improve - could they use a better-quality bun (something hand-baked rather than industrial buns)?