Best New Restaurants of 2016 and the Top Dishes of 2016

2016 was the year of Pasquale Jones. This restaurant makes delicious, accessible food at a reasonable price point (gratuity included!) in a great downtown location. I bring friends here repeatedly so that they can try the clam pie and the pork shank, which are two of Pasquale’s outstanding signature dishes, and no one has ever been let down. The same applies to myself. I’ve been back multiple times because the food is always good.

2016 was also a great year for poke bowls. There’s been an explosion of poke restaurants in the city, and my favorite one is Chikarashi in Chinatown. Indian food is also having a great year with the openings of places like Paowalla, Pondicheri and Indian Accent. So are sexy French restaurants, which are dishing up luscious meats and seafood in all sorts of creamy, buttery sauces in the prettiest of places. Brooklyn shows no signs of slowing down, New Nordic is still a thing, and you can never have too many new sushi restaurants. 2016 for me was also noteworthy for a lot of new overhyped restaurants I didn’t quite understand–Lilia, Llama Inn and Superiority Burger come to mind–but the ones that lived up to expectations really stuck. Here’s my list of the best new eateries that I think will have staying power.Read More

Pasquale Jones

There’s a concept in retailing called the hero SKU. It’s basically the one item in the store that carries the entire business. At Tory Burch this would be her famous ballet flat, or at Ralph Lauren it would be the men’s polo shirt. And for food, it would be the pancakes at Clinton Street Bakery and the cupcakes at Magnolia (even though the banana pudding is wayyy better).

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the little neck clam pizza
our bottle of wine
our bottle of wine

And at Pasquale Jones, the new Italian restaurant in Nolita run by the Charlie Bird team, the little neck clam pizza is the hero. Clam chowder is one of my favorite foods in the world. It was the soup of the day on Friday at Denny’s, and you can only guess what I had for dinner every Friday night in the suburbs. This pie basically tastes like Friday night at Denny’s, and I mean that in the most flattering way. If you can imagine creamy clam chowder soup on top of a doughy, chewy crust, that is what this clam pizza tastes like. Since the Charlie Bird team is behind this, you know that they can recommend some excellent wines to pair with that pizza. I am blanking on the bottle we ordered, but it was somewhat dry, a little funky, and brought out the brine in the clams.

braised leeks
braised leeks with walnuts and cheese
favaervelle with beans and fiddle heads
farfalle pasta with beans and fiddle heads

Sometimes a restaurant might rest on the laurels of the hero SKU and neglect the other parts of the menu. Pasquale Jones is not like that. I didn’t think I would love eating leeks as an appetizer, as the faint resemblance to onions is not really my thing, but here they braise away any of that raw flavor so that you almost feel like you’re eating creamy meaty asparagus with scallions. I love how the menu is small so that you don’t get too overwhelmed by choices. You can order a few appetizers, a pizza and an entree and feel like you’ve grasped the main intent of the menu.

rhubarb with olive oil and marscarpone ice cream
rhubarb with olive oil and mascarpone ice cream

There’s only one dessert option, a mascarpone gelato with rhubarb and olive oil. You might think it’s a lazy way to check the box at the end of a meal, but it’s one of the best parts. They rotate the fruit topping based on the season, but whatever it is, the tastiness is perennial. And the icing on the cake? Gratuity is included but the prices aren’t outrageous. One of the few times where saying “check please” is a pleasant one.

Pasquale Jones
187 Mulberry St (between Broome & Kenmare St)
New York, NY 10012
(917) 472-7230