1. Marea, New York City
In a year when fine dining seemed barely able to survive, Marea did more than just bravely open for business. It effortlessly established itself as one of New York's top restaurants. Prices are high (Adriatic Seafood Soup, $45). The room is snazzy, steely, and slick (onyx bar, glowing walls, bright red lampshades). All quite sumptuous, but primary credit for the glorious ascension belongs to Michael White, now America's top Italian chef. (Not bad for a fellow from Wisconsin.) Not only has he never met an Italian recipe he can't cook; he's cooking them all at the same time. In addition to Marea, featuring Italian seafood, he and partner Chris Cannon operate Alto (Northern Italian) and Convivio (Southern Italian). Marea's the best of the three, for this reason: White is unrivaled at fresh pastas, and seafood with fresh pasta is incomparable—like steak and potatoes. His homemade pastas are inexplicably exquisite, both delicate and substantial, a seemingly unattainable combination until now. Fusilli with octopus and bone marrow is profound, the marrow melting into a sauce. Should you weary of seafood pastas, unimaginable to me, his sausage-and-minced-vegetable ragù is a lighter—yes, lighter—alternative to fish. There's more not to miss: sirloin with bone-marrow panzanella, basically crazy croutons. I was irresistibly drawn to a crudo of striped marlin with caviar, which probably broke every rule for eating sustainably, locally, and ethically. The food at Marea is so heavenly, I don't mind going to hell.
Original article here.