I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
15. MEATBALLS at RUBIROSA
Meatballs may have been the new cupcake this year. Could you imagine a meatball cupcake? They seemed to be everywhere – just meatballs, not meatball cupcakes. Not only did a second restaurant open specializing in different versions of the little guys, but they found themselves on the menu of many restaurants. And while some can be overly bready or too spicy or flat and dry, the ones at Rubirosa were none of those things. And quite a bit more.
Rubirosa, which comes from the owners of Joe & Pat’s out on Staten Island, is getting well-deserved praise for their thin crust pizzas. But everything (including the service and the music) was memorable, especially the homemade meatballs in a classic red sauce with parmesan and herbs. You can get them as a side, on a bruschetta, or with a plate of spaghetti. However you choose, you may finally understand the new meatball craze. Price: $8 (side), $3 (brushetta), $16/$26 (with spaghetti)
|235 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Prince Street)
14. JALAPEÑO HUSH PUPPIES at DIRT CANDY
One of the most exciting meals I had this year was completely vegetarian. Amanda Cohen is a genius with vegetables (she calls them “dirty candy”) and could convert even the most stubborn carnivore. The best way to start that conversion is with an order of her beautiful jalapeño laced hush puppies.
These modestly sized irregular-shaped balls are fried golden. When you bite into the dough, in addition to plenty of warming steam, you also get crunchy jalapeño bits which give a healthy kick, along with sweet and yeasty flavors. And with a dip into the provided whipped maple butter, you understand why Amanda Cohen calls this place Dirt Candy and you’re now prepared for a consistently delicious meal. Of vegetables, no less. Price: $6
|430 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
13. KIMCHI ARANCINI at KIMCHI TACO TRUCK
This year we saw many food trucks popping up serving Korean tacos – a fusion of Mexican and Korean flavors. But only one truck attempted to combine Korean flavors with other cuisines. Kimchi Truck, which serves its fair share of Korean tacos, features a dish further down their menu that is a play on a classic Italian dish.
Arancini balls are breaded and fried rice balls usually stuffed with meat, tomato sauce, and cheese. Chef and founder Phillip Lee has the audacity to take this classic and spin it on its head with the addition of Korean flavors. And amazingly, it works wonders. These tender bites are stuffed with mild kimchi flecked rice, a generous helping of Oaxaca (keeping it Mexican) cheese, parmesan, garlic, and spices. They’re fried in Panko breading and are endlessly addicting. A dunk into the special hot sauce makes this rival the original version. Price: $3
|KIMCHI TACO TRUCK|
Follow on Twitter: @KimchiTruck
12. CAPPELLETTI at OSTERIA MORINI
Michael White really took off this past year with three hot new restaurants: Marea (which technically opened in 2010), Ai Fiori (which I’m dying to go to once I save up some money), and this place. I already sang the praises of the tiramisu on this list, but now it’s time to focus on what Osteria Morini is all about: rich, decadent, delicious pastas.
These little balls of surprise packed so much flavor they practically knocked me off my seat. It’s an exercise in textures: the soft pillowy ravioli melt away to a sweet, creamy mascarpone center. Through it all are crispy, salty bits of fried prosciutto and the wonderful aroma of truffle. They’re perched in a rich butter sauce that makes this a dish you’re dying to order four more of, but you know you better save room (and arteries) for some of the other dishes. And you’ll be glad you did. Price: $20
|218 Lafayette Street (between Kenmare Street and Spring Street)
11. WILKINSONS at HENRY PUBLIC
These little balls were one of the most delicious things I tasted from Time Out’s 100 Best list this past year. We discovered them at Henry Public, a gastropub that underwhelmed us the previous year. But I don’t care what anything else at this restaurants tastes like, these alone are worth the trip.
Named after consulting chef Shannon Wilkinson, these are a hybrid between pancake and doughnut. They’re airy balls of sweet, rich batter that have been fried just long enough to develop a beautiful yeasty exterior. Inside they’re still creamy, eggy, and complexly flavored. At dinner, they’re served with an amazing rum caramel sauce that puts all maple syrup to shame. Sweet, sweet shame. Price: $9
|329 Henry Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn