Mysterious Manhattan Dining, Scottish Whisky, and Every Type of Pizza

Plus: a Michelin-starred brewery, upscale Korean eats, and your new favorite brasserie. These are the eats that delighted our editors this month.



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Back to Life

Food writer, visual artist, and “Salad for President” creator Julia Sherman...

WHENEVER I FEEL out of balance in terms of food, I turn to Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules.” This short book has always presented itself as a realistic and sustainable approach to eating well and a much-needed corrective to the array of overcomplicated suggestions that emerge from social media. The gist: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I’ve made a career working in or around the restaurant industry, and indulging in a meal out is one of my greatest pleasures. With rules such as, “What matters is not the special occasion but the everyday practice,” I find myself welcoming the experience of a new restaurant with open arms and zero guilt. This month our editors have put together their favorite spots and spirits for your next special occasion. — Hailey Andresen

Ambiance and Umami Comfort

Raf's, NYC

There’s a new upscale brasserie in town: Raf’s. Located on the endlessly quaint Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, this French- and Italian-inspired spot is everything you’d want from an exceedingly lovely dinner: warm lighting, plush banquettes, misty mirrors. Ambiance aside, the food has pedigree. The concept comes from the team behind the Michelin-starred Musket Room (a few blocks away), helmed by chef Mary Attea and pastry chef Camari Mick. I’ve been thinking about their exceptional fluke crudo, salty and silky, swimming in aromatic olive oil, and their spaghetti with tuna bottarga — a lustrous bowl of umami comfort.
Sophie Mancini


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Suave in the City

Anto, NYC

The latest addition to upscale Korean cuisine is Anto, located right above Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood in New York City. The space feels futuristic: dim and swathed in handsome, earthy materials such as bronze, wood, and leather. Led by chef Imsub Lee, a transplant from Seoul, the concept is a hyper-premium take on the Korean steakhouse (melt-in-the-mouth cuts of beef and Ibérico pork), with equally dazzling seafood and stews (their rock-shrimp soondubu jjigae and nam-do galbi tang were both deeply satisfying). The multifloor space, set in a renovated townhouse, contains design elements such as a glowing infinity art installation, traditional Korean ceramics and sculptures, and a trippy open-ish concept kitchen (it’s wrapped in a one-way mirror such that diners can peer inside). Their wine program, led by Joo Lee, formerly of San Francisco’s Saison, is exceptional — his bottles harmonizing beautifully with the bold, savory flavors of Anto’s cuisine. — Sophie

A Taste of Orkney

Highland Park

I’m giving a bottle of Highland Park’s 18-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky to my dad for Father’s Day (surprise, Dad!). I recently had the chance to taste the company’s line in Big Sur, California, which is relevant because the landscape there is similar to that of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, where Highland Park has been making whisky since 1798. Think moody, wind-swept, where you’d expect to encounter Heathcliff from “Wuthering Heights” — though Big Sur is sunnier, and its version of Heathcliff would be an emotionally unavailable surfer named Bodhi. Of course, the environment affects the spirit’s flavor profile. There are few trees on Orkney Island; it’s mostly battered, salt-sprayed coastline. As a result, the peat used during the drying process creates a whisky with a less smoky, brighter flavor — all good things, in my book. The 18-year-old is finished in sherry-seasoned European and American oak casks and has rich flavors of dark chocolate, ripe cherries, and vanilla with a candied citrus finish. It’s twice been named the “Best Spirit in the World” by the beverage guru F. Paul Pacult, and is the brand’s most award-winning whisky. My dad will be very happy. That said, if you ever have the chance, you should try their 54-year-old version, their rarest and oldest whisky to date. — Laura Smith

Pizza Four Ways

Pizzeria da Laura, Berkeley

It’s hard to say no to a delicious slice of pizza — especially when it’s made by a champion. The recently opened Pizzeria da Laura in Berkeley, California, is home to award-winning pizza by its chef and owner Laura Meyer who won first place at the Caputo Cup in Naples for best American-style pizza. The menu serves up four different styles of pizza (New York, Sicilian, Detroit, and Grandma) — all baked to perfection, with mouthwatering toppings such as prosciutto, burrata, fermented honey, and lemon-smoked provolone. The innovative wine list is heavy on organic and biodynamic wines. My recommendation is to start with the focaccia (ask for some homemade chili sauce on the side) and order the Sicilian “La Regina” (tomato, mozzarella, arugula, soppressata, prosciutto, shaved parmesan, EVOO) — that won Laura the prize in Naples. — Elissa Polls

Hidden Manhattan

The Office of Mr. Moto, NYC

I recently had the good fortune of snagging a seat at The Office of Mr. Moto, one of the loveliest and deliberately confounding restaurants in Manhattan. Operating somewhat like a speakeasy, the almost-hidden establishment requires that the guest, having secured a highly coveted reservation, then decodes a secret message in order to gain entry into the space. Named after a gourmand and art lover who famously traveled alongside the crew of the USS Susquehanna in 1863 on a yearlong journey to East Asia, the “office” boasts only counter seating for six and three small tables, all of which are surrounded by historical artifacts and ephemera from Mr. Moto’s iconic journey, during which the pleasures of Edomae sushi were first discovered. The conceit of the restaurant can feel a little overwhelming on a first visit, but the food itself is worth all the fuss. A 21-course tasting menu is artfully assembled in front of you at the counter. In addition to an incredible chawanmushi egg custard, there were 16 pieces of delicate nigiri (hand-pressed sushi) — each with a sake pairing — meant to take you on a historically accurate journey through Edomae sushi. I was seated next to two friends who had been trying for months to land a reservation. As each piece of sushi was delivered, the man next to me kept repeating, “It can’t possibly get any better than that one,” and then much to our delight, with each consecutive course, it did.
T. Cole Rachel


Surprising Pairings

Moody Tongue, NYC

Beer and sushi pairings aren’t something you see every day. But at Moody Tongue, the world’s first 2-Michelin-starred brewery, it’s their specialty. Hailing from Chicago, the New York City outpost in the West Village has every ounce of moodiness inside that the name implies. The menu is boundless — you can savor small bites or go all out with chef Hiromi Iwakiri’s nigiri tasting. I started with a silky-smooth chawanmushi with black truffle, foie gras, negi, and ginkgo. I followed with the shiitake and maitake gyoza (dumplings) with dollops of crème fraîche and trout roe, laced with vinaigrette and chives. For the finale, I suggest “The Wabash” tasting, which pairs three pieces of nigiri with three beers. I’ve always had a weakness for amaebi (sweet shrimp), but the tartness of the Oak Barrel Aged Flanders Red Ale brought out flavors I hadn’t expected. The name is a nod to Moody Tongue’s Chicago roots on South Wabash Avenue, and it brought back fond memories of my time there. — Annie Lin

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Our Contributors

Hailey Andresen Writer

Hailey Andresen is the guides editor at Departures. A New York–based writer and editor, she founded the digital lifestyle publication Household Mag and has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry.

Sophie Mancini Writer

Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.

T. Cole Rachel Editor-at-Large

T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.

Annie Lin Writer

Annie Lin is the social editor at Departures. A writer and content strategist based in New York City, her work has been featured in Time Out, Resy, OpenTable, Women’s Health, Elite Daily, CNBC, and many more.

Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

Jess Rotter Illustrator

Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.


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