While fall is generally considered high season for restaurant openings, winter is certainly no slouch. Not only can you expect a slew of seriously credentialed entries, that weren’t able to launch quite as early as expected, but you’ll have a far better shot at nabbing tables, from those splashy, exclusive, height of autumn debuts.
So as long as you’re compiling your holiday wish list, consider requesting a reservation at the following spots, from Joe Campanale’s wine-focused migration to Brooklyn, to Joël Robuchon’s heralded return to the Big Apple.
Eleven Madison Park
After taking a working summer vacation in East Hampton (at the clubby EMP House), so they could retool their three Michelin-starred flagship, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara are again ministering to NYC’s dining elite. In addition to new interiors (including refreshed banquettes, tiles, artwork and dishware) and a tricked out kitchen (boasting a dry-aging area for ducks and a Molteni stove), they’ve modified the dining room to seat 80 instead of 400 and expanded the bar; creating a space that’s potentially more intimate and accessible, to anyone not in the possession of a black card. 11 Madison Ave., (212) 889-0905
L’ Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Essentially in the works since 2012, the great Joël Robuchon (who has more Michelin stars to his name than any other chef) has finally returned to NYC, with a Chelsea outpost of his luxe L’Atelier. A duo of pricey, nine-course tasting menus—one seasonal, one vegetarian—grace sushi bar-esque counters overlooking the stage-like kitchen, although it’s possible to partake in a cost-effective Robuchon experience the Le Bar; offering more rustic French fare such as roasted chicken and croque monsieur. 85 10th Ave., (212) 488-8885
Joël Robuchon may be a roi of French cuisine, but Dong Zhenxiang is a veritable emperor in China, thanks to his dynasty of Peking duck restaurants scattered across Shanghai and Beijing. Thankfully, you only need to go as far as Times Square to appreciate his glorious, lacquer-skinned birds, served with pancakes and sesame buns and anointed with a series of sauces. 3 Bryant Park, (212) 355-9600
New Nordic cuisine is still riding high in Brooklyn, thanks to the outer-borough patronage of Claus Meyer, Fredrik Berselius and now, Noma co-founder, Mads Refslund, whose joined his Scandi comrades in Williamsburg. In anticipation of an elaborate, forthcoming restaurant, in the digs previously occupied by Vice HQ, Refslund is staging an extended pop-up inside Meyers Bageri; proffering a la carte items listed under “Raw” (uni and chestnut), “Baked” (monkfish with black pear and rosemary) and “Sweet” (frozen pumpkin with yogurt and honey). 667 Driggs Ave., (347) 966-2091
Coco Pazzo Kitchen and Restaurant
Call it the season of the comeback. This 1990’s-era Italian stallion (where Cesare Casella and Anthony Bourdain once cut their teeth), is the latest warhorse to get dusted off for a reboot. Inimitable owner Pino Luongo is keeping it old school in the sit-down SoHo dining room (where you’ll find tableside presentations of salt-crusted whole fish and soufflé), but an adjacent “kitchen” gamely nods towards the new, by adopting a fast-casual roster of sandwiches, salads and soups. 160 Prince St.
Don’t cry for Park Slope icon Franny’s, as this highly anticipated wine bar is about to take its place. None other than Joe Campanale—one of the city’s most respected, not to mention youngest, sommeliers and beverage directors—will pair his prized pours with regional Italian cuisine from Apennine peninsula; prepared by former L’Artusi chef, Erin Shambura. 348 Flatbush Ave., (917) 909-1427
Of all the high-concept Japanese franchises that have flooded NYC of late (such as the standing up steakhouse, Ikinari, or Ichiran, with its ramen concentration booths), this just might be the wonkiest. That’s because diners are tasked with actually catching their own fish—start by renting poles and bait, perch in a “boat” over a tank, and then hand your prize over to the kitchen, who will grill, fry or turn your bounty into sushi, according to your liking. 152 W. 24th St., (646) 861-0030
With a Michelin star tucked under his chef’s apron for his local grain-focused pasta boite, Faro, Kevin Adey is preparing to stretch his wings a bit with this Sichuan spot in Bushwick. This time, noodles will come in the form of dan dan mian, dusted with lip-numbing peppercorns, supplemented with regional Chinese dishes he’s been quietly perfecting at home, such as mapo tofu, wontons in chili oil and twice cooked pork. 24 Irving Ave.
All-day eateries may be trending, but the leisurely, low-key, European-inspired conceit has Jody Williams and Rita Sodi written all over it. And the pair is readying to throw down in the West Village with the graceful Pisellino, where they’re predicting locals will make multiple stops a day for morning espressos, afternoon paninis, early evening aperitivos, sprightly suppers and after-dinner drinks. 100 7th Ave. S.
With three successful NYC restaurants to her name (Taim, Balaboosta and Bar Bolonat), Einat Admony is turning her attention to couscous. The Tel Aviv native is preparing the sand-fine grain the way it’s done in Israel; by rolling it by hand and pressing it through a sieve in a three-hour process, and serving it with braised kosher meats, brined fish and stuffed vegetables. 455 Hudson St.