The Best 2010 NYC Restaurant Openings

Even for foodies like us, in the Big Apple it can be high-nigh impossible to keep up with the constant openings and closings of notable places to eat. And, unless you're Frank Bruni, how do you even know where to go? Who has the time to keep up with restaurant reviews, restaurant spin-offs, strict reservation policies, word of mouth, celebrity sightings...the list is endless enough to go the Kate Moss route. But c'mon, a lot of things taste better than being skinny, so we turned to Milk & Mode blogger Carol Han—her constant recipe postings and cooking tips make her a go-to for professional gals and guys who need the 4-1-1 on what's going on in the food universe. She's turned her gimlet eye on NYC's best restaurant openings of 2010, and we spot a common theme: Suddenly chefs and their restaurants collectively focused on careful sourcing, quality foods, and locally grown produce. Quietly, it seems, one excellent restaurant after another opened, making the superlative process a difficult job. Agree or disagree with Han's choices, but we guarantee reading her list will leave you hungry as hell.
And now for the gems that made the cut! Browse our slideshow and get your dialing finger ready—you'll want to start making those reservations like yesterday.
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Opened: November 2010.
Claim to Fame: This cozy, tin-ceilinged Nolita eatery, owned by the clan behind the legendary Joe & Pat's pizzeria of Staten Island, boasts a 50-year-old pizza recipe that is closely held as a family secret, and for good reason. One bite into the hot, paper- thin crust coated with sweet, peppery tomato sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella, and I was sold. Bonus: they made it a real family affair with the involvement of Angelo Bianchi, the dapper, sweet-mannered former doorman of the Beatrice and current gatekeeper of the Jane Hotel's ballroom. You're apt to run into him chatting with tables of well-dressed downtown scenesters (who have made it their unofficial clubhouse) and passing out tiny Italian fried doughnuts called zeppoles—trust me, they're the best way to end your meal.
What to Order: Vodka pizza, brick-pressed chicken, meatballs, chicken parmesan.
235 Mulberry Street (between Prince and Spring streets); 212-965-0500.
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Fat Radish
Opened: October 2010.
Claim to Fame: Aside from the fact that the name alone happens to be really fun to say, The Fat Radish also serves up some seriously tasty farm-to-table, vegetable- focused dishes that will give any die-hard carnivore reason to think twice about that Peter Luger reservation in 2011. Not to say that it's a vegetarian restaurant (far from it—the duck was one of my favorite plates), more that the stars of the menu are veggies, rather than meats. Also, the charming blokes behind the place, Ben Towill and Phil Winser, also of Silkstone catering company, aren't exactly hard on the eyes. [Editor's Note: They're regulation hotties.]
What to Order: Honey-glazed duck, Romanesco cauliflower, apple pie.
17 Orchard Street (near Canal Street); 212-300-4053
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Hung Ry
Opened: October 2010
Claim to Fame: A seriously authentic Chinese hand-pulled noodle joint that uses only organic flour and the best cuts of meat from local purveyors? It sounds almost too good to be true, but there it is—Hung Ry opened smack dab in the middle of Noho a couple of months ago serving hot, steaming soups like the "black feather chicken" that is so good and full of winter veggies, it could just be the elusive cure for the common cold. Chef Michael Hodgkins, formerly of Cru, also serves a mean dairy-free ice cream for dessert.
What to Order: Duck noodle soup, chocolate ice cream.
55 Bond Street (near Bowery); 212-677-4864.
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Goat Town
Opened: December 2010
Claim to Fame: Nick Morgenstern and Joel Hough, two veterans from The General Greene and Cookshop, respectively, partnered up to created this hand-built space complete with a backyard garden and a gigantic basement for curing, pickling, brining, butchering, and ice-cream-making, the Brooklyn way. You can't get much more local than that.
What to Order: Crab deviled eggs, fried oysters, crispy roast chicken, fish & chips.
511 East 5th Street (between Avenue A and Avenue B); 212-687-3641.
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The Lion
Opened: May 2010.
Claim to Fame: This second venture by John DeLucie, the famed chef behind every celeb and celebutante's favorite den, The Waverly Inn, had a line of New Yorkers vying to get a reservation during an extremely extended soft opening/private-party- only phase. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. Everything from the abundance of art on the walls arranged to look like a old salon in Paris (Basquiat's "Rome Pays Off" among them), to the dark, intimate atmosphere, to the cheesecake in a jar at meal's end, makes for one hell of a dining experience.
What to Order: Tuna tartare, Lobster Pot Pie, Sheep's milk Cavatelli, Cheesecake in a Jar.
62 West 9th Street (near 6th Avenue); 212-353-8400.
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Opened: Reopened January 2010.
Claim to Fame: This is a warm, family-run operation through and through, with a charming, hospitable Palestinian mother-daughter team dishing out steaming, transcendentally delicious plates of hummus, baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, spiced roast chicken, cauliflower, and bounds of other specialties like a near-perfect falafel sandwich. It's a bit off the beaten path, but totally worth the trip.
What to Order: Falafel sandwich, hummus, cauliflower, grilled lamb, knafeh, baklava.
7523 Third Avenue (near 76th Street); Brooklyn; 718-748-5600.
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P.S. A special mention to Marcus Samuelsson's much-anticipated new space Red Rooster, which I haven't yet had the pleasure of trying, as it just opened over the weekend. I've heard good things.
310 Lenox Avenue (at 125th Street); 212-792-9001.
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Opened: March 2010
Claim to Fame: The chef and owner of this white-brick-walled, low-lit, little Mediterranean restaurant, is Einat Admony, who also serves arguably the best falafel in town at Taim in the West Village. Her new effort, named after the Yiddish term for "perfect housewife," is filled with old cookbooks by (appropriately enough) women authors, family photos, and a congenial, neighborly vibe that is undoubtedly the result of the comforting home-style cooking coming out of the kitchen in the form of the freshest possible hummus (you finish the grinding yourself), juicy brick chicken, crispy shrimp wrapped in delicate phyllo, and a delicately crunchy cauliflower gratin of sorts that is out of this world. The kitchen opens up onto the sidewalk via glass wall, so passersby (and future patrons) can see the magic being made.
What to Order: Mortar and Pestle Hummus, Crispy Cauliflower, Shrimp Kataif,Chicken Cooked "Under a Brick."
214 Mulberry Street (near Spring Street); 212-966-7366.
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Torrisi Italian Specialties
Opened: Deli and counter service opened on December 30th, 2009, but dinner service (which has already built a cult-like following) launched in March.
Claim to Fame: Mario Carbone and Richard Torrisi, the owners of the shop and restaurant, serve a four-course, prix fixe, Grandma's-Sunday-Supper-esque meal that changes every single night, six days a week, all for the bargain-basement price of $45. But your typical red-sauce slinging joint it's not; the partners, who have trained under the likes of Batali and Boulud, use the best local ingredients they can find and seem to be hell-bent on taking Italian comfort food to inventive new levels.
What to Order: There's no ordering involved, you get what the night's menu dictates. Word on the street is you've really struck gold if you happen to score a table on a night when they're serving Devils' Chicken.
250 Mulberry Street (near Prince Street); 212)-965-0955
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Opened: April 2010
Claim to Fame: Takashi really knows the way to my heart. By combining two of my favorite things, Korean table barbeque and a refined Japanese sensibility, owner Takashi Inoue hit the nail right on the proverbial head. Inoue was raised in Osaka, a region of Japan where this particular style of eating, called yakiniku, reigns supreme. Meat is the main attraction here and you can get standard fare (i.e. grilled short ribs) as well as more exotic cuts (i.e. stomach and tongue), but whichever way you play it, you can rest assured that his offerings are always sourced from the best boutique farms around.
What to Order: Kalbi (short ribs), Takashi's Peppery Edamame, beef cheeks, soft serve ice cream.
456 Hudson Street (near Barrow Street); 212-414-2929.
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Brooklyn Fare
Opened: Though the grocery store opened in April 2009, The Chef's Table re-opened July 2010.
Claim to Fame: This unlikely contender for a vaulted Michelin star, which it received this year (and two of them, no less!), is serving seasonal market food in seriously luxurious, surprising new ways, courtesy of chef Cesar Ramirez, a former Bouley understudy. Located in an out-of-the-way street in Brooklyn Heights, Ramirez conducts a sort of BYOB dinner theater five nights a week, in which he serves a plethora of perfect tiny courses for $135 a head. Think exotic, impossible- to-find sashimi, a single sardine placed in a carefully constructed potato chip cage, and enough foams and gelees to make Ferran Adria weep.
What to Order: Whatever the chef puts in front of you!
200 Schermerhorn Street (near Hoyt Street); Brooklyn; 718-243-0050.

Photo: Via happyrobot on Flickr.