Phil Rosenthal may live in Los Angeles, but he will always call New York home. “I’ll always be grateful to New York for the life that I have,” the Queens native says in his hit show, Somebody Feed Phil. The fourth season of the beloved travel food series will be released on Netflix today.
“I think people are going to watch it and think, ‘Wow, remember when you could go places and hug people and and be together and shake hands or have a kiss on the cheek?,’” Rosenthal shares about the new season, which was filmed before the pandemic and follows the hilarious host on his adventures to explore delicious cuisines in Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, The Mississippi Delta, and Hawaii.
“For as long as the show’s been on, the nicest compliment I receive is ‘we sat there with a pen and paper and wrote down everything—and we planned our whole trip around what you did.’ So there’s no reason not to keep doing this, because this terrible thing is going to end. I say if you want to go somewhere, plan the trip for next year. The worst thing that can happen is you have to postpone a little longer. But it's very important, as human beings, to have things to look forward to. Otherwise, why bother? We’re all anxiously awaiting the world to be our oyster again.”
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Rosenthal captivates with a witty charm and awe-inspiring enthusiasm that can’t help but put a smile on your face. And though he’s indulged in phenomenal food all over the globe, the born-and-bred New Yorker will forever love eating his way through his hometown.
Since the restaurant industry in New York has been particularly hard hit due to coronavirus, there’s never been a better time to support—and show love to—local businesses. To help inspire your next great meal or future travels, Rosenthal highlights some of his favorite places to get fed in NYC.
PR: The last time I was in New York was mid-March. I think my flight back to LA was the day the travel ban was announced. But the new place I fell in love with was in Hudson Yards, Momofuku Kāwi. It’s fantastic. Chef Eunjo Park is a super talent and her food is cutting-edge (note: Kāwi is currently closed, but you can enjoy Park’s cooking by ordering Momofuku 207 To Go).
For Italian, I love Rezdôra, which opened last year. Chef Stefano (Secchi) is so great and he’s such a sweetie pie. And all of them at Rezdôra, I love everybody there. It’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic.
Top Places to Visit With Your Family
PR: For fancy, I love Marea. Marea has one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in my life: the octopus and bone marrow fusilli. Crazy good. I guess if you’re not a foodie, that combo may sound disgusting, but I’d tell anyone to taste it. And for people who aren’t too adventurous, I don’t even tell them what’s coming. As soon as they taste it, they say ‘this is phenomenal, what’s in it?’ And I say you don’t want to know, ha.
Obviously there’s great Chinese food in Flushing. Dumpling Galaxy is extraordinary. There’s a lot there. And there's a street vendor at the end of the 7 line, a sweet lady who carves Peking duck, then gives it to you with the scallion and hoisin in the pancake; she sells them for like $1.50 each, so you can stuff your face for very little money—it’s one of the city’s great treasures. In Manhattan, Cafe China in Midtown. It has a Michelin star, but it’s very low key and not fancy at all. They serve hot Sichuan food like mapo tofu and use green peppercorns, which is something very special because it’s hot and numbing at the same time. It’s like eating in 3-D.
If you want to go a little healthy, ABCV. You won’t miss the meat at all; it’s incredible because the flavor and innovation is so wonderful. It’s such a great place, I used to meet people for lunch there all the time.
The whole family also enjoys going to Parm on the Upper West Side. My brother Richard’s family lives up there and my dad really likes it—the linguine and clam sauce is his favorite. They do all the simple things well.
Let’s Talk Pizza
PR: Our New York episode (season 2, episode 6 of Somebody Feed Phil) highlights some of the best pizza spots, but my new favorite is Mama’s Too. Chef-owner Frank Tuttolomondo is a superstar in my book. I love him. And the only reason I didn’t include Joe’s on Carmine in the episode is simply because we ran out of room. It’s legendary. Also Razza, which is right in Jersey City. So Dan (referring to chef-owner Dan Richer) and I have become friends since filming there. That’s like another world of pizza; it’s a whole different level.
It’s funny because there’s Chicago deep dish that I love, there’s pizza in San Francisco that I love, a lot of the pizza in Los Angeles is spectacular, and there’s the classic New York style that everybody knows. Some New Yorkers like to say ‘that’s not pizza’ about other regional styles, but I don’t care what you call it. There’s room for everything! Is it delicious? Yes. But New York pizza is obviously exceptional, and definitely one of the first things I eat when in town.
More Quintessential NYC Cravings
PR: I also love New York hot dogs. I love Nathan's and Gray’s Papaya. I love the hot dog at Katz’s Deli, it’s phenomenal. In fact, I’d say the hot dog is my favorite thing at Katz’s, even over the corned beef sandwich!
The best steakhouse, maybe in the world, is in Brooklyn. And I hope [Peter] Luger’s is doing alright, I believe they have outdoor seating (Peter Luger is also offering delivery and takeout for the first time ever). Aren’t you proud of the restaurant industry as a whole? For taking that abrupt left turn, and making the side business the main business? As horrible as the pandemic is, we are in the golden age of takeout. And you can get the best stuff now. We’ve had some of the most wonderful meals in our house—and it’s not because we cook!
PR: It’s a lot of pizza when we take out and a lot of Jewish deli food. Russ & Daughters is the greatest of the great. That may as well be our family’s kitchen. That and Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass.
Any other local favorites:
PR: Overall, the New York City episode really does illustrate a lot of memorable New York dining moments for me, so anything from the show is still fair game.
Does Blue Hill at Stone Barns count? It’s in New York state, but only about half an hour away. You know, sometimes it takes half an hour just to get across midtown! That, I would say, is the best restaurant in America and it’s right there. I love that and he’s a genius (referring to chef and co-owner Dan Barber).
Where Do You Get Your Dessert Fix?
And Morgenstern’s. Nick Morgenstern is a mad genius of ice cream; I call him the ‘Great Humor Man.’ He makes 88 flavors in his shop and we collaborated on this incredible sundae, which is available on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s called The Rosenthal, but the subtitle is: The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Anything Ever. And I really think it lives up to the name. I’m as proud of that as anything in my whole stupid life. It’s fun—and an honor—to collaborate with somebody you respect so much, who is a genius in their field. You know, it’s like writing a song with Bruce Springsteen.
Season 4 of Somebody Feed Phil will be available on Netflix on October 30th. And be sure to catch Phil Rosenthal LIVE on our Instagram on Wednesday, November 11th at 2pm PST/5pm EST as he answers reader questions and dishes on the new season.