Manhattan's FiDi Is This Year's Surprise, Hot Restaurant Scene
A decade ago, you could count the number of places you really wanted to eat in the Financial District on one hand.
It was a neighborhood to work and drink hard in and then leave; as soon as Happy Hour was over, the place was dead. Now FiDi, and surrounding downtown New York, are the city's hottest dining neighborhoods, maybe even the country's. What changed? The completion of the World Trade Center complex and the rebuilding of lower Manhattan. After countless hours of construction, new and gorgeously renovated buildings are rising up, from the new Four Seasons Hotel, where Wolfgang Puck has opened his first New York place, to the revitalized Beekman Hotel, which underwent a $350 million refurbishment and is home to two stellar new restaurants—Tom Colicchio’s modern American spot, Fowler & Wells, and Keith McNally’s Augustine.
A few blocks away, at Four World Trade Center, downtown Eataly boasts a superb restaurant, Osteria della Pace, specializing in the cuisine of southern Italy. Counters sell almost every Italian-styled food you’d think to eat, from Neapolitan pizza to meat fresh from the rotisserie. In addition, there tens of thousands of food products, because people actually live in the Financial District now. Here's a guide to the most exciting new openings—let the late night parties commence.
From the team behind the Dead Rabbit—the whiskey-focused spot that keeps winning the title of World’s Best Bar—Blacktail celebrates Cuba and rum and the days of Prohibition when the best drinking was done in Havana. Among the five types of drinks are eight types of Old Fashioneds, including the bourbon and Irish Whiskey-spiked Crescent cocktail. On the food menu is Sugarcane Gulf Shrimp and a Sloppy Joe with braised shortrib ragù. 22 Battery Place.
Wolfgang Puck is about as famous as a chef can be. He helped put celebrity chefs on the map in the modern era and is as much a fixture at the Oscars as a golden statue. But he never had a restaurant in New York. Until now. At Cut steakhouse in the new downtown Four Seasons hotel, the specialty is marbled pure Japanese Waygu beef, grilled over hardwood and charcoal and finished in a smoking hot (1200 degree) broiler. Puck and company put you in charge of your steak order size: It’s $25 per ounce for rib eye or sirloin, and the minimum order is 6 ounces. 27 Barclay Place.
Past the designer stores of Brookfield Place, hidden inside Le District food market, is one of the city’s more unconventional restaurants: the Michelin-starred, French-styled L’Appart. In the intimate space—with just eight tables, it’s been designed to feel like an elite chef’s living room, albeit one with ground floor views of the yachts in the North Cove Marina—Nicolas Abello’s five- to eight-course tasting menu might include foie gras, ingeniously accented with quince and sangria, or, in the season, a more indulgent version with leeks and a generous garnish of truffles. Brookfield Place.
Osteria della Pace
At Eataly Downtown, the $39 million, FiDi location of the wildly popular Italian food mecca, Osteria della Pace is the elegant, intimate southern Italian restaurant with stunning city views, sauce spaghetti ai 3 pomodori (pasta with three tomato sauces), and succulent 12-hour slow-cooked suckling pig. For the more time-crunched, at the Neapolitan pizza section, pies are made in minutes. 4 World Trade Center.
If you’ve forgotten for a minute the magic of Balthazar and classic Paris dining, go directly to Augustine. On the ground floor of the Beekman Hotel, the room is all soft lighting and chandeliers and flower tiles. Keith McNally and chefs Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla based their menu on some of the most iconic, and richest, dishes from Paris and Lyon.
The monstrous bone marrow is served with delectable oxtail jam spiked with sherry, and the leg of lamb cooks slowly on the rotisserie before it arrives at the table. 5 Beekman St.
New York has developed a habit of putting notable restaurants in its shopping centers. Uptown, in the Time Warner Center, Masa and Per Se have six Michelin stars between them. Downtown, Brookfield Place has L’Appart (above) and Amada, which has improved the city’s Spanish tapas landscape. On the traditional menu: platters of cured meats, such as chorizo and multiple kinds of prized Iberico ham; jumbo prawns à la plancha; and lobster paella. Chef Jose Garces, whose small empire of restaurants includes his flagship Amada in Philadelphia, said in an e-mail that he wanted to come to the Financial District because it epitomizes the city’s incredible energy and ability to reinvent itself. 250 Vesey St.
Fowler & Wells
The Beekman is one busy hotel. For one thing, it’s breathtaking atrium has dominated social media since the public first got a look at it a year or so ago. It also has Keith McNally’s über bistro Augustine (above). And it’s got star chef Tom Colicchio’s first downtown restaurant Fowler & Wells across the hall. Colicchio serves the kind of new American, ingredient-driven dishes he’s known for, such as hamachi with sea urchin and rabbit schnitzel with garlic confit. He also has a tasting menu of historically minded dishes inspired by the area, such as Oysters Rockefeller and Lobster Thermidor, and oversees the menu at the perenially packed bar. 5 Beekman St.
Is the Brooklyn dining aesthetic forever? Maybe. Maybe there will always be walls of reclaimed wood and people sitting on top of each other and the loudest acoustics and the most tattooed, Tee-shirted, and smart servers in one small space. But there’s also Le Coucou, which reminds New York that artful fine dining is a powerful thing. In a high-ceilinged, white painted space where all the tables are covered with white cloths and candles and all the servers wear tailored jackets, chef Daniel Rose offers glorious French dishes such as oysters with seaweed butter and roast duck with foie gras and olives. Added bonus: It’s currently the biggest power dining scene in the city, despite its location in the spare northern stretches of FiDi. 138 Lafayette Street.
Another star chef heads downtown. In the stunning Calatrava-designed Oculus at the World Trade Center, Daniel Boulud has opened a third outpost of his gourmet market and café. There are luxe versions of classic sandwiches, from the breakfast-time egg, jambon de Paris, and gruyere on a roll to the suckling pig Cubano and the DBGB dog with a housemade hot dog, sautéed onions, and relish. And for people who have time before their evening train, there are cocktails too. 185 Greenwich Street.
Eiji Ichimura, who garnered three stars from the New York Times for his sublime sushi inside Brushstroke, is opening his own place in January. The 10-seat counter will feature an omakase menu including the special style of aged fish that he’s known for. Ichimura is thinking outside the box for pairings: There will be a selection of hard-to-find sakes as well as a predominantly natural wine list from Jorge Riera (wine director at Contra and Wildair on the Lower East Side). Stay tuned for more details. 69 Leonard Street.
David Chang will make it easier for Wall Street to grab one of his famed fried chicken sandwiches. In 2017, he’ll open Fuku in a compact location at 110 Wall Street. His team is still developing the space and the menu; Grub Street reports that we can expect chili cheese fries and perhaps the new sweet-and-spicy sandwich, recently promoted as an off-the-menu special. They’ve also gotten approval for beer and liquor license. Cheers. 110 Wall Street.