There are so many reasons to love summer. Al fresco dining. Outdoor food festivals and markets. Seafood shacks. And best of all, tons of fresh, local produce. Succulent Sweet Corn, tender Yellow Squash and juicy Heirloom Tomatoes are only really available for a fleeting three months, tops. That’s why the city’s best restaurants are taking full advantage of the Greenmarket, like Franny’s Crostini with Fava Beans, Pecorino, Alder’s Foie Gras Terrine with Watermelon and Yuzu, and Ignacio Mattos’ newly opened, Estela and its Raw Scallops with Citrus and Bronze Fennel. Looking for a few more seasonal dishes to celebrate summer with? Right this way…
Ever since parting ways with Isa in Williamsburg last year, chef Ignacio Mattos has stayed pretty much under the radar. But just in time for summer, he’s re-emerged at Estela, a new small plates spot on the Lower East Side. Check out his roster of shareable plates with global influence and super seasonal flavors, like Burrata with Salsa Verde, Ricotta Dumplings with Corn & Basil, and Kohlrabi with Hazelnuts, Mint and Fossa, a sharp sheep’s milk cheese. Where to begin, right?.
Just like its sister restaurant, ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongeritchen and Dan Kluger’s newest eatery, ABC Cocina, puts produce front and center, and deliciously so! Except ABC Cocina’s got a decidedly Latin, small plates bent. The result is Spring Peas mashed into Guacamole, pureed in a cold Soup with Vegetables, Avocado and Lime, and used as the filling for flaky empanadas, accompanied by a pleasantly spicy Green Chili Yogurt. One of our favorite dishes this year is their Wood-Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Spring Onions and Marcona Almonds. We could on, but we suggest you go and check it out for yourself.
After ten years, the king of molecular gastronomy has finally opened a second restaurant. But Wylie Dusfresne’s latest venue is nothing like his wd-50 science experiment. Alder is a laid back, approachable eatery where executive chef Jon Bignelli uses Greenmarket ingredients to create distinctive American plates. This summer, we’ve got our eye on a special of Grilled Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Brook Trout, and Brown Butter. The Scrambled Eggs provide a warm, fluffy base for finely charred Asparagus and freshly caught Trout. Catch it before it’s gone!
Mathieu Palombino’s pies have been sorely missed in Brooklyn, ever since he closed Motorino in 2011 (christened “The Leaning Tower of Pizza,” the building was literally sinking into the ground!). Motorino’s returned to the borough just weeks ago in a sleekly renovated space, churning out wood-fired pizzas that are every bit as delicious as we remembered. You can’t go wrong with the traditional Marinara or Margherita, but we strongly recommend the Cherry Stone Clam Pizza come this time of year. Drizzled with Parsley Butter and topped with sweet, creamy Mozzarella, sautéed Garlic, and briny Cherry Stone Clams, it’s one of the best summer pies in the city.
After focusing his culinary efforts on New American fare at Perilla and Thai-inspired dishes at Kin Shop, Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle has returned to his roots with The Marrow. Dishes like Sweet Corn Maultaschen (a ravioli of sorts), stuffed with Peekytoe Crab and Chanterelle Mushrooms, reflect his father’s German heritage, while Italian specialties like Bone Marrow with Meyer Lemon Aioli and Baby Celery Greens are a seasonal homage to his mother. I don’t know about you, but we’d be equally happy ordering from either side of the menu this summer.
Thanks to the popularity of their inventive pastas and wood-burning pizzas made with locally sourced ingredients, Park Slope favorite Franny’s was able to expand into larger digs a few months ago. Savor the taste of summer (in a sunny new space!) with chef Andrew Feingold’s seasonal dishes, like Fried Polenta accompanied by Corn, Sungold Tomatoes and Crescenza, Spaghetti tossed with Seabream, Controne Pepper and Agretti (a sought-after leafy green), and their standout Crostino, paved with Fava Beans, salty Pecorino Sardino and fresh Mint.
With its spare wooden furnishings and antique Japanese dishware, Kajitsu captures the serenity of Japan’s ceremonial tearooms. While the restaurant recently moved to midtown, the unique Japanese menu and serene setting are fully intact. Chef Masato Nishihara presents a traditional, vegetarian kaiseki tasting menu, inspired by Shojin, a cuisine originally developed by Zen Buddhists (if you’ve never experiences it, you’re in for a treat!). While you still have the chance, sample Kajitsu’s seasonal specials, like White Asparagus with Jicama and Napa Cabbage, and the Porcini Morel Mushroom Sukiyaki, a meat-free version of the traditional Japanese soup, further elevated by shavings of luxurious Summer Truffle.
Pearl & Ash
In addition to an expansive wine list, the new SoHo spot, Pearl & Ash, has drawn raves for Richard Kuo’s whimsical and sophisticated fare. Kuo’s prone to the exotic, like Bee Pollen-Capped Ama-Ebi (sweet shrimp) with Radish and Smoked Lime Yogurt, Rainbow Trout with Celery, Black Olives and Pearl Onions as well as Squid with Romesco, Jicama and Purslane. Did we mention the house-baked bread with chicken butter? We really should.
The Little Owl
This cozy West Village spot is a longtime favorite with locals and foodies alike. That’s because chef Joey Campanaro has a way of marrying bold Mediterranean flavors with the season’s freshest ingredients. Here’s our idea of an ideal summer meal at The Little Owl… start with the Tomato and Melon Salad, followed by a dreamy Maine Lobster Risotto, then Broiled Halibut with a Pesto Vinaigrette, Summer Peas and sweet Corn. Warm weather dining at its finest!
You know a restaurant named after an herb in the mint family pays extra attention to fresh and seasonal produce. Alright, you won’t actually find Betony on the menu, but you will find Mint in a starter of Crushed Zucchini and Gruyere, as well as grassy Dill, lightening up a salad of Young Lettuces and Avocado. Another summer standout on Betony’s menu is the Asparagus Pappardelle, dressed with Black Pepper and Summer Truffle. The chef, Bryce Shuman, got his training at Eleven Madison Park, so expect sophisticated twists and elegant plating.