Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written Pamela Robin Brandt (
). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner menus, or among individual items on those menus.
$= $10 and under
$$$$$= $50 and over
Asia Bay Bistro
1007 Kane Concourse
As in Japan’s most refined restaurants, artful presentation is stunning at this Japanese/Thai gem. And though the voluminous menu sports all the familiar favorites from both nations, the Japanese-inspired small plates will please diners seeking something different. Try jalapeño sauced hamachi sashimi; toro with enoki mushrooms, bracing ooba (shiso), tobiko caviar, and a sauce almost like beurre blanc; rock shrimp/shitake tempura with a delicate salad; elegant salmon tartare with a mix-in quail egg. And spicy, mayo-dressed tuna rock makis are universal crowd-pleasers. $$$
Betto’s Ristorante Italiano
1009 Kane Concourse
After roughly 25 years as Caffe Da Vinci, this romantic remodeled, renamed space is now managed by Betto Di Carlo, also a 25-year Italian cuisine veteran (as former owner/effusively charming host of Surfside’s neighborhood favorite Café Ragazzi). Best make reservations. Though off the tourist track, the place draws hungry hordes for homemade pastas like pappardelle ai porcini (toothsome wide noodles with fresh mushrooms). Veal piccata, lightly floured and sautéed medaillons with a caper-studded lemon white wine sauce, and thicker mozzarella-stuffed chops are also popular. $$$
1052 Kane Concourse
This upscale Lebanese restaurant serves dishes with the sort of understated sophistication that makes clear why Beirut was called the Paris of the East. You’ll find familiar Middle Eastern favorites, but many have refinements that lift them above average: pita that’s housemade, charmingly fluffy when warm from the oven; falafel incorporating flavorful fava beans with the usual ground chickpeas. Especially appealing are more uncommon items like crisp-fried cauliflower with tahini, fateh (a chickpea casserole “iced” with thick yogurt), and buttery cheese/herb-filled sambusak pastries. Finish exotically with a hookah. $$-$$$
1071 95th St.,
If we were on Death Row, choosing a last meal, this very chef-centered lunchroom/market’s PBLT (a BLT sandwich with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly substituting for regular bacon) would be a strong contender. Co-owners Sandra Stefani (ex-Casa Toscana chef/owner) and Ines Chattas (ex-Icebox Café GM) have combined their backgrounds to create a global gourmet oasis with a menu ranging from light quiches and imaginative salads to hefty balsamic/ tomato-glazed shortribs or daily pasta specials (like wild boar-stuffed ravioli). Also featured: artisan grocery products, and Stefani’s famous interactive cooking class/wine dinners. $$-$$$
9650 E. Bay Harbor Dr.
It was 1930s journalists, legend has it, who transformed NYC’s original Palm from Italian restaurant to bastion of beef. Owners would run out to the butcher for huge steaks to satisfy the hardboiled scribes. So our perennial pick here is nostalgic: steak à la stone -- juicy, butterdoused slices on toast, topped with sautéed onions and pimentos. This classic (whose carb components make it satisfying without à la carte sides, and hence a relative bargain) isn’t on the menu anymore, but cooks will prepare it on request. $$$$$