I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

This year was another crazy ride. And while politics and breaking news stories often drifted into my anxious psyche, food still played an important role. And this year was full of surprising dishes that were nourishing, pleasurable, and a much-needed distraction. Here now are the top 10 dishes – an exciting mix of hearty classics like burgers and lasagna, along with some brilliant vegetable concoctions.

NUMBER 5: FRESH MOZZARELLA at JOE’S ITALIAN DELI

If you study this 100 Best list, you’ll see I spent a lot of time up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx this year. It was part of my job giving food tours. Tough job. By far the best thing we taste on the tour are these bits of fresh mozzarella made throughout the day. Joe’s is only a second generation run business, but both generations have the magic touch when it comes to making the cheese. The mozzarella is so clean and fresh that I feel absolutely no guilt when eating it. It’s truly the best I’ve ever tasted.  Price: $8.49/pound

JOE’S ITALIAN DELI
685 East 187th Street (between Cambreleng and Beaumont Avenue),
Belmont, Bronx
(718) 367-7979
joesitaliandeli.com

NUMBER 4: NEW CREATION at SUPERIORITY BURGER

Amazingly, this is a vegan cheesesteak. But instead of bland and temperamental soy or tempeh, we get shaved and griddled yuba, Yuba is the skin of tofu and in this vessel, it is shaved very thin and browned to an almost meaty-crispness. It also has the tenderness of thinly sliced steak. To enhance the cheesesteak sensation, gloppy cashew cheese, caramelized onions, and some pickled cucumbers are added. It’s served in a roll and is truly one of the best cheesesteaks I’ve ever had. Even though there’s no cheese and there’s no steak. And this establishment is definitely not in Philadelphia. Price: $7

SUPERIORITY BURGER
430 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A),
East Village
(212) 256-1192
superiorityburger.com

NUMBER 3: LASAGNA ALL BOLOGONESE at TRA DI NOI

It’s hard for me to resist classic lasagna when I find it on the menu and I’m so glad I gave in at Tra Di Noi. The amazing thing about this lasagna was how richly flavored it was yet it also had a surprising delicacy. The thin pasta layers were masterful with just the right amount of cheese and the meaty bolognese was hearty without being a full-on gutbomb. Imagine that: a refined red sauced lasagna in a classy restaurant nestled in the Bronx that most Manhattanites have never heard about. Price: $13.95 (lunch)/$17.95 (dinner)

TRA DI NOI
622 East 187th Street (between Hughes and Belmont Avenue),
Belmont, Bronx
(718) 295-1784
tradinoi.com

NUMBER 2: BURGER at CAFÉ ALTRO PARADISO

Every year I manage to discover a new burger that changes the game of my view on the burger scene in New York. And this year it came from an Italian restaurant in Soho of all places. Unlike most burgers in the city, this rich patty was peppery and charred like usual but it also had an extra kick of flavor from fish sauce, chile oil, and rosemary. Then it’s topped with funky gorgonzola, a sweet caramelized radicchio, a red pickled onion and a caper before it’s sandwiched on a buttery brioche bun. Can’t wait to see what burger will steal my heart next year. Price: 22

CAFÉ ALTRO PARADISO
234 Spring Street (at 6th Avenue),
Soho
(646) 952-0828
altroparadiso.com

NUMBER 1: CORNBREAD + CRAB at GRISTMILL

I never would have guessed my top dish of the year would have been discovered at an unassuming brunch in Park Slope, Brooklyn. But here is the exquisite cornbread from Gristmill. I’ve never seen a piece as browned and caramelized on the exterior with a sweet rich and crumbly corn-filled center. To ensure it’s place in infamy, it’s topped with some serious jumbo lump crab and a garnish of edible purple flowers. Needless to say, this is not your grandmother’s cornbread. Price: $12

GRISTMILL
289 5th Avenue (between 1st and 2nd Street),
Park Slope, Brooklyn
(718) 499-2424
gristmillbk.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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