It was a great year for restaurant openings in New York City, and likewise a busy one for Chowhounds engaged in anointing their favorites. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 places that left us delighted and amazed in 2012.
13 Laight Street (between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street), Manhattan
Filling a casual niche on New York’s Scandinavian scene, this restaurant-bar served the Danish open-face sandwiches called smørrebrød—and beer, wine, and house-infused aquavits to go with them.
9 Great Jones Street (near Lafayette Street), Manhattan
A founding chef at Copenhagen’s Noma steered Acme’s menu from New Orleans to New Nordic: simple, seasonal cooking with notes of herbs and evergreens and a whiff of hay smoke.
3. DON ANTONIO BY STARITA
309 W. 50th Street (between Eighth and Ninth avenues), Manhattan
A century-old Naples pizzeria teamed up with an owner of local favorite Kesté at Don Antonio, whose signature Montanara Starita pie, lightly fried before being topped and baked, resulted in a crisp, golden crust.
25 Bond Street (between Fulton and Livingston streets), Brooklyn
Some of New York’s best ramen, including a deeply flavorful variation with spicy miso, surfaced improbably in once-ramen-challenged downtown Brooklyn.
5. ICHIMURA AT BRUSHSTROKE
30 Hudson Street (between Duane and Reade streets), Manhattan
Tokyo-trained master Eiji Ichimura presided at David Bouley’s Brushstroke, where he crafted exquisite sushi that ranked among the city’s best.
6. LAKE PAVILION
60-15 Main Street (near 60th Avenue), Flushing, Queens
Some of the tastiest Cantonese food in town turned up at this seafood and dim sum house a mile south of downtown Flushing, where dishes like scallops and conch in XO sauce showed an uncommonly delicate touch.
7. MOTI MAHAL DELUX
1149 First Avenue (at E. 63rd Street), Manhattan
Spice and creaminess blended beautifully in murgh makhani, or butter chicken, a signature northern Indian dish at this first U.S. outpost of a Delhi-based international chain.
8. MISSION CHINESE FOOD
154 Orchard Street (between Rivington and Stanton streets), Manhattan
A Chowhound favorite from San Francisco conquered New York with lusty Chinese-inspired cooking that was part Sichuan and all Danny Bowien. New York hounds loved the chef’s big, rich, meaty takes on mapo dofu and sizzling cumin lamb, among other dishes.
9. PIG AND KHAO
68 Clinton Street (between Stanton and Rivington streets), Manhattan
This collaboration of the Fatty Crab team and Chef Leah Cohen delivered full-on flavors from the Philippines and Thailand in dishes such as fried fish in hot-and-sour broth (pictured above) and sisig, a sizzling hash of pork head meat.
10. THE PINES
284 Third Avenue (between Carroll and President streets), Brooklyn
From the owners of hound-endorsed seafood shack Littleneck came something very different: assured, inventive New American food with Mediterranean leanings, by a chef from Williamsburg’s short-lived Masten Lake.
Photo of fried fish with hot-and-sour broth from Pig and Khao / Facebook