1. The best pizza the world has to offer.
My favorite pizza spots in NYC are as follows (and in no particular order): Serafina, Mezzaluna, Rubirosa, and Paulie Gee’s. Serafina has a MEAN “focaccia di sofia”—a crispy, thin, focaccia-like pizza with their “special ingredient” and no tomato. After many bites, I’ve gathered that the “special ingredient” includes ricotta, truffle oil, and I’m not sure what else. Mezzaluna has truly authentic Italian pizza—you can’t go wrong with any variation of a margherita pie. Rubirosa has the crispiest pizza known to man and is celebrated for sometimes swapping out marinara sauce for vodka sauce. And finally, Paulie Gee’s is your classic, home-made-style pizza, made with awesome ingredients—think hot pepper flakes, honey, spicy salami, ricotta, and love.
2. Frozen hot chocolate.
This drink can be found at Serendipity and speaks for itself. I think it was Descartes who once said “I think therefore I like frozen hot chocolate.”
3. Japanese-Jewish cuisine.
Shalom Japan just recently opened up in Williamsburg. They like to tout their restaurant not as a Japanese-Jewish cuisine fusion, but rather a place that makes dishes inspired by both Japanese and Jewish cuisines. Their sake kasu challah (pictured above) comes with cinnamon raisin butter. That is all.
4. Katz’s pastrami egg roll.
Everyone is always recommending Katz’s Deli, an East Village spot known for pastrami sandwiches, but I think it’s time we up the ante and go to RedFarm instead. A delicious and fairly new restaurant, RedFarm is perhaps best known for their take on the Katz’s pastrami sandwich, in egg roll form, called the Katz’s pastrami egg roll. And it’s beautiful.
5. Foie gras grilled cheese.
Chez Sardine is the illustrious West Village restaurant that serves this dish. The restaurant is pricey but worth it, owned by Gabriel Stulman—the owner of Fedora and Joseph Leonard as well.
6. Crif Dogs.
Bacon-wrapped hot dogs will brighten up any day. They’re also like $3-$5 each, and come with fantastic waffle fries (sometimes tater tots).
7. No. 7 Sub.
The deliciously inventive sandwiches sold here will melt your heart. They deserve extra praise for considering crushed-up potato chips to be a sandwich ingredient.
8. Red velvet doughnuts.
If red velvet doughnuts exist anywhere in the world outside of Peter Pan Donuts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I don’t want to hear it; they couldn’t possibly be as good. Just make sure to get there early because they sell out fast.
9. The best ramen and pork buns.
Ippudo‘s ramen and pork buns are so good it’s almost unfair. I think about these two dishes far too often.
10. Good $1 pizza.
The best $1 pizza spots in Manhattan can probably be found in the NYU area, near MacDougal street.
11. The best bagels.
H&H Bagels is the original bagel store in NYC. The Upper West Side location was my jam growing up; it has since closed, leaving one left on 81st and 2nd.
12. Great soft pretzels.
Apparently the best soft pretzels can be found at The Sigmund Pretzel Cart, though I prefer the traditional, overly-salted New York City ones.
13. Peanut butter and jelly donuts.
They’re found at Doughnut Plant, a doughnut haven located in Manhattan.
14. Roasted nuts on the street.
They’re Nuts 4 Nuts and they’re probably the only street carts in NYC that actually smell good. It’s basically just candied nuts, and they’re delicious.
15. The best banana pudding ever.
Made at Magnolia Bakery, it tastes more like a blended cake than your traditional pudding. Expect bites of actual cake, bananas, and an icing-flavor mixed within.