A CHEF'S GUIDE TO NYC • Ana Ortiz
Ana Ortiz is the wonderful chef of Day Into Night, one of the chicest catering and hosting experiences that NYC has to offer. Today, she shares all of the spots to hit in NYC if one is looking to enjoy or curate the ideal gathering experience.
The Meat Hook is a small, super friendly butcher shop on Graham Avenue. They use whole animals and have very close relationships with their farmers. The beef is 100% grass-fed, the pork, lamb, and chickens are pasture raised. The quality here is unbeatable. The butchers are very approachable and all the really important stuff - the reverence for the animals and the people who raise them is unquestionable.
They have a small selection of veggies and great dairy. They carry Kinderhook farm eggs and Battenkill milk, which are the best you can get in this area, as well as Harbison cheese, a very stinky, delicious, bloomy-rind cheese from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont that comes wrapped in Spruce. Also, their chicken broth is fantastic.
Marlow & Daughters is a butcher shop & small grocery owned by the same people that own Marlow & Sons, which is just down the street, and Reynards, a few blocks away at the Wyeth hotel. I worked at both of those restaurants and I’ve never worked anywhere that had better produce. All their restaurants are hyper-seasonal and use whole animals as well. Reynards, which has the prettiest light in the morning, is also the perfect place to treat yourself to a quiet breakfast.
Daughters have similar practices and philosophies as The Meat Hook. They carry the same amazing veggies as they do at their restaurants and the best bread in the city, which is naturally leavened and made at their own bakery, She-wolf. The Maple Oat and the Sourdough have a bit of a cult following.
Just around the corner from Daughters is Dr Cow, a tiny gem that specializes in cashew cheeses and raw sweets that are beyond beautiful. Their raw raspberry jam, bright and barely sweet is perfection.
There are two farmer’s markets in North Brooklyn. One on Saturdays in Williamsburg at McCarren Park and one in Greenpoint on Sundays at Mcgolrick Park. They are both on the smaller side but work in a pinch.
The best farmer’s market is the one in the city at Union Square on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. (Saturday is a bit of a zoo unless you go early.) ABC home & carpet is just up the street and sometimes it’s nice to combine the two and do a quick walk through to soak in all the sparkle and shimmer either pre or post-market. Also, the mushroom kale tacos with mint, cashews, and mole at ABC Cocina are really yummy.
The other not to be missed food place in the city is Kalustyans, a huge spice shop that carries pretty much any spice, rice, salt, tea, and condiment you could ever want plus lots of stuff you never knew you did with the added bonus of an ayurvedic section. Upstairs there is a small cafeteria where they make stewed eggplant, giant white beans, cucumber salad and hummus, perfect food after you’ve been wondering the aisles filling up your basket with dried rose petals, cornflowers, ground sandalwood, and dates.
Via Carota is a very chic Italian restaurant in the west village that makes tons of amazing veggie dishes. My favorite is the fennel salad with Castelvaltrano olives and the grilled mushrooms with scarmozza. The lemon chicken, the smoked ricotta tortellini and the swizzerina, a sort of steak tartare burger with rosemary and roasted garlic are spectacular. They are open all day. I like going to The Whitney then meandering my way south through the village for a late lunch at the bar.
Cervos a Portuguese inspired restaurant in Chinatown makes really tasty food. I love any salad or prawn dish here.
Oh, and Prune if you've never been. Tiny, delicious, and so special. My favorite is the celery salad with blue cheese toast but everything here is tasty. non-fussy and extremely elegant.
In Spanish, there is a word, sobremesa. The concept roughly translates to the time spent at the table chatting after you’ve eaten. After living and cooking in New York, California, Italy, and France I opened my catering company, day into night, with the concept of sobremesa in mind. We cook delicious, relaxed, celebratory meals for people so they can linger at the table enjoying the company and conversation.