The absolute best, and the flat-out worst, places we've eaten at this Anno Domini, 2010.

In the life of this particular blog, 2010 was the year of the outer borough. The Manhattan establishments I went to in the last twelve months were either, by and large, forgettable or they stunk. Meanwhile, the restaurants that required a little bit of travel were the ones that stood out. They were the ones that made me wonder how anyone who refused to cross a river to eat a meal could dare call themselves a "foodie" (they can't). This list proves that dining doesn't need to be expensive to be great. You just can't be lazy about it.


Best Restaurant

This Red Hook gem stands out, handily winning my top honor for quite simply doing absolutely nothing wrong. Great service, great ambiance, tiny menu, and of course, amazing food and drinks. If you were ever thinking "I want to open a restaurant, but I really want Jon to like it" then go here. Every neighborhood in New York should have a Fort Defiance in it.

Best Beer List

Park Slope's Beer Table's Lilliputian size (creating its notable lack of table space) is its sole downside. Once you're inside sitting down, and have accustomed yourself to having your neighbor's elbow firmly embedded in your love handles, prepare to be wowed by not only the beers they have available for your enjoyment, but by the knowledge of the staff pouring it into your glass. They're the sommeliers of stout. The beer snob in you (the food snob too, by the way) and in your circle of friends will be in heaven.

Best Whiskey List

Yes, this year I did me some drinkin' and Park Slope's Char No. 4, with it positively huge whiskey list, was helping me find the best way to do so. With a transcontinental selection and prices ranging from $3 to $100 per ounce, virtually every palate can be satisfied. Add to it all a delicious food menu and you have a place that was giving Fort Defiance a run for its money.

Best Italian

If you read this blog at all regularly, then you know that as much as I love Italian food, I usually find that the majority of Italian restaurants are half-assed attempts at using a Prego jar to separate you from your wallet. Williamsburg's Baci & Abbracci is not. It was consistently good across every front and, like Char No. 4, was on my ultra-short list for best restaurant. Nothing I ate here disappointed in the slightest, the atmosphere wasn't cliche, the staff was nice, the subway was nearby. It was everything you could want in an Italian restaurant.

Best Gnocchi

While Baci & Abbraci was the best overall Italian restaurant, Uvarara, the Middle Village Italian wine bar had, far and away, the best gnocchi. To my scale's dismay, I've eaten a lot of gnocchi this year and their golf ball-sized, butter-soaked and cheese-topped versions were the best of the bunch by leaps and bounds. If you ever wake up craving gnocchi, you should be waking up craving these.

Best Burger

With the success of Shake Shack and company, burger joints have been popping up like mushrooms. The trick these days is less about finding a good hamburger than in finding a unique one. Anyone can serve a beef burger or a turkey burger, but Astoria's Bare Burger has elk. Tender, delicious elk on a whole grain bun, served in a room designed with almost entirely recycled materials and you have a fantastic meal that's virtually guilt free (unless you're a vegetarian, which I am not).

Best Pizza

The only Manhattan location on the best list this year is the East Village's Artichoke Pizza. Ironically enough, Artichoke hails from Staten Island. Serving only a half dozen kinds of pizza, none of which are "standard" and all of which are fantastic, Artichoke is simply the best pizza in NYC. It's worth the half hour line that comes required with the experience and almost makes you pity the tourists who'll wait in line for hours to get a pie (that simply doesn't compare) from Grimaldi's.



Salsa Y Salsa makes the list for so many reasons, not the least of which was being served someone's hair. Fish tacos with almost no fish in them, the constant and steady breeze of ice-cold wind, uncooked doughy tortillas, the waiter who vanished only to re-appear drinking at the bar, the otherwise awful food. And, of course, there was the 18-inch long strand of hair.


It was bad enough waiting two hours to get in, then being strung along for a table once through the door (or maybe just plain forgotten about?), then having to stand up the entire time just so to be served unimpressive cocktails. But pairing that with the sad fact that I had been warned about this in advance... it just makes me angry at myself.


Kingswood is popular. The wait on weekends can be long. And it was for this reason that I was fooled into eating there. I equated popularity with tastesgoodity, a common error. Miniskirts and silicone may be fun to look at and be great on a balance sheet, but they can't fix a broken kitchen. Overcooked greasy food with poorly paired sides is fine if you're a Waffle House off Interstate 95, but when you charge as much as Kingswood does, there's no excuse.

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