Searching for the next big thing might as well be the official pastime of New York foodies. From Gastronauts gathering in secret locations to the citywide Malaysian Restaurant Week — there's always reason to fear missing out when it comes to cuisine in New York City.
Recently, Torrisi Italian Specialty has restaurant critics all in a tizzy. The 18-seat Italian-American deli/restaurant opened last December in what could easily be considered the good-food wasteland of Manhattan: Little Italy. Despite the location, Torrisi is billed by critics to be on the forefront of changing how urbanites think about food. Owners Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi hail from the city's elite restaurants and are devoting their considerable skills to making authentic Italian food entirely with local, quality American ingredients. The result: New York Magazine gave the restaurant a nearly unheard-of five stars in April, and earlier this week, New York Times critic Sam Sifton bestowed Torrisi with two stars.
Josh Ozersky, a food writer sanctified by an award from the James Beard foundation, wrote in Time magazine that Torrisi is just one example of how the country's best chefs are elevating otherwise familiar fare. Butcher Pat LaFrieda has his signature beef blends for burgers at eateries like Minetta Tavern and The Spotted Pig. Even pizza is getting in on the action, with joints like Roberta's in Bushwick creating talked-about seasonal pies that feature the foodie forager favorite, ramps. That's not to even get into the reinvention of fried chicken.
"It's the latest chapter in taking blue collar food to the 21st century," says Ozersky.