Edible enlightenm­ent from our eatery experts and colleagues Monie Begley, Richard Nalley and Randall Lane, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.


● Café Boulud 100 East 63rd St. (Tel.: 212-772-2600)

After a twoyear closure and in a new location, this cafe, part of Daniel Boulud’s empire, is in its glory. Teal velvet banquettes with wood tables ring the room, and a large marble table is in the center, topped with a glorious floral bouquet. But here food is the star. Choose from four silos: La Tradition (French classics), La Saison (seasonal specialtie­s), Le Potager (the garden) and Le Voyage (world cuisines). Dishes are masterfull­y overseen by executive chef Romain Paumier. From La Tradition, the foie gras au kumquat is dense and creamy and is easily followed by braised Angus ribs or strip steak. From La Saison, the St. Jacques au champagne is perfectly seared scallops in a swirl of champagne beurre blanc. Le Potager presents a rich mushroom soup with a chestnut confit, black truffle and crème fraîche. Le Voyage: Panroasted dorade with chili chutney and white miso is perfection. Pastry chef Katalina Diaz’s desserts are irresistib­le.

● Café Carmellini The Fifth Avenue Hotel, 1 West 28th St. (Tel.: 212-231-9400)

Celebrity chef Andrew Carmellini’s cafe is situated in a historic BeauxArts building and new hotel tower, where he goes all out in a vaultedcei­ling, treesculpt­ured space that includes balconies and lots of Deco touches. Even something as simple as oysters has been reinvented here. Described as “à la Pomme,” a dollop of green apple sorbet with fresh horseradis­h says, “move over mignonette.” Winter citrus and beet carpaccio is also a home run. Squab is served pink and perfect in a croute thinner than a paper bag. Rabbit primavera is so fresh it nearly hops off the plate. The chocolate pear délice is a fabulous dessert, as is the flaming aged rum sticky toffee pudding.

● Hoexter’s 174 East 82nd St. (Tel.: 212-288-1777)

Alexandra Shapiro, daughter of the owners of the original Hoexter’s Market, has a smash hit with this second iteration. The new brasserie is located in the family’s former Flex Mussels space and is very cozy and buzzy, with three unique rooms. The menu offers popular classics with updates—with one exception: a sinful gorgonzola garlic bread served in a swath of gorgonzola cream bechamel that 40 years ago was on the menu, and is again. For appetizers, try the tuna crudo in a citrus pool, the caviar and potato chips, the rich French onion soup, the mortadella plate or the spicy calamari arrabbiata. The mains are easy raves: a gigantic pork Milanese, perfect steak frites, the lightest Faroe Island salmon in a beurre blanc sauce and a double smash cheeseburg­er with a special sauce. Be sure to have a side of the winter Caesar salad finely chopped with shaved Brussels sprouts, purple cauliflowe­r and sprinkled with Parmesan. Desserts are wonderful; if you’re with a group, order them all.

● Cathédrale Moxy Hotel, 112 East 11th St. (Tel.: 212-888-1093)

Not your grandpa’s expense account hotel and restaurant, which didn’t feature hanging leather swings and a SkeeBall machine. The wellheeled younger crowd comes for the wowfactor, highglam dining room decor, featuring a soaring ceiling with a dramatic sculpture of spiky mesh, massive swag draperies and theatrical lighting. The generously portioned offerings from the Mediterran­ean-leaning menu are good, with highlights that include a meaty, smoky Hen of the Woods brochette, a memorable rotisserie chicken on a bed of chanterell­es and fondant potatoes, and the $75 “Plats Royale” entrecôte au poivre.

● Gus’s Chop House 215 Union St., Brooklyn (Tel.: 347-227-8421)

Situated on the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill border, this unfussy restaurant’s surehanded way with everything from cocktail standards to sides worth the trip themselves to a range of sensationa­l meat entrees elevates this selfdeclar­ed “neighborho­od restaurant” into allcity contention. Ask the chef to put a meal together for you, and $105 will bring a feast that might include marjoramru­bbed chicken à la plancha, pork porterhous­e brined in brown sugar, and thymeinfle­cted slices of hanger steak with a plethora of sides like comte creamed spinach and shallots, crispy roasted potatoes with rosemary and pine nut–sprinkled spring onion piquillo.

● San Matteo New York 1716 Second Ave., at 89th St. (Tel.: 212-426-6943)

The talented, gracious Casella brothers, Fabio and Ciro, have opened a new ristorante and brought their awardwinni­ng pizzas (dozens of choices) with them. The new location seats about 60, has a busy bar and an open kitchen. The menu is influenced by the brothers’ native Salerno region. Begin with exquisitel­y grilled octopus served with a garlic aioli, or the layered Parmigiana di melanzane—thin slices of eggplant and homemade mozzarella. The arancini rice balls are stuffed with salami and mozzarella, giving them more taste than the usual. For midcourses there are pastas, such as candele alla Genovese with a rich, divine ragu sauce; linguine e vongole in a delicate broth with the teeniest of clams; or panuozzi (sandwiches), padellini (dishes cooked in a small pot) or an array of calzones. Each main dish is perfectly done. For example, rolled, grilled skirt steak filled with parsley, garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano; chicken Matteo in a luscious lemony sauce; and the hearty grilled salmon. Finish with a plate of cannoli and a steaming espresso.

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