The culinary scene in and around Hell’s Kitchen in New York City was not always as robust and diverse as it is today. With each year that passes the lively western enclave seems to expand exponentially, adding more acclaimed eateries and making resident’s dinner decisions even tougher. So we are here to ease the confusion, and boil down the lengthy list of options to a concise and well-regarded top five. What follows are our five favorite restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen:
Don Antonio by Starita
Pizza and New York are all but synonymous at this point, but the pizza at Don Antonio is not your typical New York slice. The pies at Don Antonio are prepared in the classic Italian wood-fired style which has grown immensely popular over the last decade. But not all wood-fired pizzerias are created equal. The pies here stand out due to their vast depth of flavor, their rich texture and their handmade aesthetic. These are fluffy and fresh pies that come out a bit burnt and irregular – they have character to them. Their classic margherita is a can’t miss and if you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, try their ridiculously flavorful, famous and fried Montanara Starita pizza.
This Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich owned restaurant serves up some of the freshest seafood dishes in the entire city. Famous for popularizing the raw, Italian fish preparation, crudo, their menu is chocked full of inventive options to satisfy conservative and venturesome eaters alike. The new Hell’s Kitchen Condos & Luxury Penthouses of Stella Tower, are only a walk away from Esca’s crudo prepared, Red Snapper and Strawberry Grouper, as well as their Beau Soleil Oysters are all prime options that are hard to beat anywhere in the region.
When it comes to pasta in Hell’s Kitchen Tayola sits at the top of the heap. Well-known for their buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, insanely fresh pasta as well as their charming and quaint atmosphere, Tayola is a winner through-and-through. Every pasta dish here is fresh, flavorful and meticulously well-prepared. They do not reinvent the wheel here, but they make pretty incredibly wheels. Their pappardelle, spaghetti and lasagna are wonderful dishes all-around and their calamari is fresh and finely textured. And beyond the food, the atmosphere in Tayola captures that weathered and character-laden aesthetic of those certain small, special little eateries in Italy.
Wondee Siam began in Hell’s Kitchen with its first, small Thai restaurant, later opening four other locations throughout the city. Their success is due -almost entirely- to how vividly delicious their food is. With some restaurants, there’s a whole level of experience to the meal, so if the food itself isn’t up to par, the experience may still be a positive one. Wondee Siam is -for the most part- decidedly no frills. The interior is nicely arranged and pristine, but the star of the show here is—and always will be—the food. Their Massaman Curry, Yum Ta Lay and Papaya Salad are all winners, but it’s hard to find any real weak-points on the menu.
It’s nearly impossible to find a restaurant within the entire city with half as much history as the 106-year old Italian restaurant, Barbetta. As the oldest restaurant in New York, it’s clear that Barbetta’s doing something right. The dining room is elegant and decidedly formal, and their garden in the back is an absolutely beautiful expanse that perfectly frames the food they serve. And the food is where they thrive. Delicious, fresh pasta, five different velvety risotto options and an assortment of flavorful salads round out their traditional -but highly successful- Italian menu.