99 Essential Restaurants 2014

photo by Anne Fishbein

Bestia

Even early on a Sunday night, the bar at Bestia is three deep with people angling for a seat, and the chance of landing a table with no reservation is slim to none. A year and a half after opening, Bill Chait’s project with chef Ori Menashe and Menashe’s wife/pastry chef, Genevieve Gergis, still could be mistaken for a hot, young newcomer. It’s definitely the O.G. of our new crop of modern, Northern Italian–influenced restaurants. There are many reasons for the crowds. The open, brick-walled space remains a shining example of the possibilities of the industrial building as a restaurant, and feels all the more enticing because it’s tucked down a dark street in the most desolate corner of the Arts District. The cocktails, by Julian Cox, are made with the highest level of professionalism and care. But mainly, the hoards of people are here, still, for Menashe’s cooking: gorgeous pastas, outstanding charcuterie and smaller bites that pull absolutely no punches. Try tearing your attention from a mellow, smoky mackerel crostino with burrata, or the pan-roasted chicken gizzards with beets, a dish that has been on the menu almost since day one (and with good reason). Gergis’ desserts don’t disappoint, either — the woman understands salt, which is a sadly uncommon trait for a pastry chef.

-- Besha Rodell