Stateside Inspiration - Lisa Chafel looks at new food ideas from New York

By Lisa Chafel

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New york Pizza

Food review of New York

What's new in New York

So much to eat, so little time. That's how I felt on my recent short visit to my old home, New York. Love it or hate it, New York is still one of the best food cities in the world.

For diversity, creativity, service, quality and value, it's hard to beat. That's because most New Yorkers eat out more than they cook, so they are pretty sophisticated and demanding. And if it's not good they're not afraid to speak up.

There are so many choices out there, a restaurant really has to be good to make it and extraordinary to stand out. Like the song says "If you can make it there…"

Anything Japanese is booming at the moment. It seems New Yorkers can't get enough of the zen-inspired ascetic, the strict freshness and the sheer beauty of the Japanese experience, as epitomised by Jewel Bako, the tiny 24-seater sensation in the East village. It's new annex, Jewel Bako Robata, which celebrates the Japanese art of grilling food, features the freshest possible dishes - whole blue parrot snapper, sea urchin in its shell, kurobuta pork chops and a 22-ounce Kobe porterhouse.

Taking things to extreme, the ultimate in the Japanese-fusion experience of Masa can set you back up to $300-$400 a head! According to New York Magazine: "These meals are designed to be enjoyed in a state of blissful suspended animation." But at $300 a pop, I'm not sure how blissful I could be.

Another big trend "proper" pizza - artesian pizzas with an almost militant approach to authenticity. TV celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali's pizzeria concept, Otto, is modelled after an Italian train station and keeps things fresh and seasonal, with buffalo mozzarella and all salamis and pepperoni cured in house.

Une Pizza Napoletana is all about serious Neapolitan-style pizza, as authentic as humanly possible. The owner, Anthony Mangieri, is so dedicated to the cause that in order to give his dough the proper attention, he only opens four days a week. He bakes only four kinds of pizzas in his perfectly-calibrated wood-fired brick oven, using buffalo mozzarella flown in especially from Naples, San Marzano tomatoes, Sicilian sea salt, fresh garlic and basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

Log this one under "unusual but fun". Rice to Riches in Soho is a new concept that features a huge, ever-changing selection of rice puddings served like ice cream at a dipping counter. Flavours at the moment included "Forbidden Apple", "Surrender to Mango" and "Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road." You can choose from a range of mysteriously-named toppings, such as "Cloud 9" (whipped cream), "Nudge" (chilled espresso with cocoa) and "Remedy" (caramel vanilla sauce).

Other new trends, as noted by my comrades in New York are real BBQs, anything pork, the emergence of the Slow Food movement and anything organic such as Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a new restaurant just outside of New York, with a farm on property owned by the Rockefeller Estate.

Sources: Karen Wertheim and Allen Katz, The Food Group NY, New York Magazine

Originally from New York, Lisa is MD of the Food Group UK, a foodservice-focused agency that she set up five years ago after working for more than 10 years in the Food Group's New York office

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