For decades there has been a strong Italian presence in New York City—which has, naturally, translated to a swath of great Italian restaurants thriving in the area. Still, even with dozens (hundreds?) of Italian fine-dining establishments throughout the city, a few names will always stand out. These are the chefs who're currently dominating the ristorante Italiano scene in NYC:
Frank DeCarlo of Peasant
Forgoing many staples of Italian restaurants like fried calamari and meatballs, Frank DeCarlo has made a name for himself for a number of reasons that extend even beyond his prowess as a chef. Peasant's interior and showcased kitchen are a prime example of what makes DeCarlo so unique: he actually built his flame-cooking brick kitchen by hand.
Mario Carbone of Carbone
An exceptional chef in every right, Mario Carbone's namesake restaurant has become a notable hotspot in New York—so much so, in fact, that reservations need to be made a month in advance. This is due in part to the restaurant's elegant, yet unassuming atmosphere, and expertly crafted classic Italian dishes like veal parmesan, chicken scarpariello and lobster fra diavolo.
Michael White of Ai Fiori
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Michael White broke away from cheese country and found himself studying his culinary craft in Imola, Italy. Upon returning, he's been going through a flurry of activity and is a legacy in the making. He's opened a number of restaurants, but Ai Fiori might be the most notable as it's a Michelin Star recipient.
Justin Smillie of il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Unlike many of the New York chefs in this list, Justin Smillie's culinary story is pretty straightforward. After working with a few chefs at great restaurants like Barbuto and Mercer Kitchen, he landed a position as the executive chef of il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. Since then, the restaurant/market has exploded in popularity thanks to Smillie's fresh farm-to-table philosophy and his honed attention to flavorful detail.
Mark Ladner of Del Posto
Starting with mom-and-pop pizza and moving on to culinary school in Rhode Island, Mark Ladner took a slower route to get to where he is today, but all his time invested has proven well worth it. Since 1999, he's partnered in opening three restaurants, the most outstanding being Del Posto, which has received a small collection of truly distinguished accolades. These include a Michelin Star, four stars from The New York Times, a Grand Chef title from Relais & Chateaux, and a five-diamond award through AAA.
Donald lives in San Diego County with his wife and three children. He has written for a number of organizations in addition to JustLuxe, including Remy Martin, Yahoo!, Oh!Facts and more. Donald spent five years in the U.S. Navy where he discovered his knack for writing through creating instructional materials and standard operating procedures. Since his honorable discharge in 2009, he has embraced...(Read More)