For over 100 years, John's of 12th Street has been serving up real deal, authentic Italian food in New York City's East Village. They're known for their house-made, fresh-cut pasta, but it's their Tuscan ragu meat sauce that kept Guy going back for more. Chuck and pork butt are cooked down for over five hours in tomato sauce, house-made vegetable stock and marsala wine before being tossed with their famous pappardelle and served with a sprinkling of basil.
After being marinated for 24 hours in a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce and over 21 different dry spices, the goat neck from Ducks Eatery is smoked over oak and hickory wood for seven hours and braised in its marinade for another five hours before being seared in a cast iron pan in bacon and pickled pastrami fat. Served over rice and dusted with cilantro, Guy says it's one of "the top three best goat dishes" he's ever had.
Don't let the name fool you. This isn't your typical French crepe. Sea salt and turmeric spice up the batter that's mixed with smoked bacon, eggs and shrimp and fried to a crisp, giving Bun-ker's crepe a "wicked good" melt-in-your-mouth finish.
Named after owner Donnie D'Alessio's favorite movie, Queens Comfort's most famous chicken sandwich is a savory combination of different cooking techniques and flavors. Frist, the chicken is smoked for two hours, then braised in a sweet and spicy marinade. Then, it's sliced, topped with house-made bacon jam and a slice of cheddar cheese and served with a homemade chipotle aioli and sliced avocado. Guy says it's, "off the chain."
Every inch of Pies 'n' Thighs' famous chicken is coated in paprika, cayenne and black pepper before it's brined in sugar and salt for 24 hours. Then it's covered in all-purpose flour, deep-fried and served on top of freshly made buckwheat waffles, and topped with cinnamon butter and blueberry compote. Guy says it's "the most savory combination of chicken and waffles" he's ever had.
It's dive bar aesthetic might not scream four-star cuisine, but The Sparrow Tavern has a knack for turning out fresh and creative recipes. Their veggie burger is made of shredded carrots, zucchini, corn and peas, and it's held together with barley, mashed potatoes, panko bread crumbs and brown rice. The six-ounce patties are baked, then seared and served with pita bread, herbed fries and a side of maple-cayenne-mustard mayo.
The secret to the dynamite flavor of Sidecar's Cuban sandwich is the array of spices and flavors that are soaked into the meat. Cumin, mixed mustard seed, black peppercorn and dark brown sugar are just a few of the ingredients that make up the pork butt's dry rub. Then, it's submerged in a wet marinade of cilantro, garlic, beer and citrus zest and soaks up all that flavor for 48 hours. The ham is marinated in a mixture of Dijon mustard, honey, brown sugar and beer for over six hours before being stacked with the pork butt, pickles and Swiss cheese between two pieces of toasted bread.
When it comes to real deal, old-school Neapolitan pizza, the magic starts in the crust. At Don Antonio, pizza chef Roberto Caporuscio doesn't rely on measuring cups or specific recipes. Everything is done by hand and measured by feel. After the dough is pressed out into a circle and the desired toppings are added, the next, and arguably most important, step is the oven. At Don Antonio, they use a stone, wood-fired oven with a small mouth and a low dome which cooks the pizza in just about a minute. Guy says he "can feel the magic" in the kitchen.
Thinly sliced pork butt is marinated overnight in a house-made adobo sauce and covered in slices of juicy pineapple before being cooked on a vertical rotisserie until the edges start to char. The meat is then sliced and served with pineapple, cilantro and Tortilleria Nixtamal's freshly made tortillas.
Waffles for breakfast are nothing new, but it's the topping at Jimmy's Diner that's reinventing this morning classic. Pancetta, apples and brown sugar are reduced and mixed with maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest. The sweet and savory mixture is layered on top of a buttermilk, vanilla waffle and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Guy says it's "a waffle that eats like a meal."
This staple at Ben's Best Deli is a hefty portion of ground chuck that's seasoned with garlic powder, cumin, ketchup and pepper. The stuffed roll is covered in a sweet and sour raisin sauce (raisins, lemon juice, tomato puree, cranberry sauce, cinnamon), cooked for about an hour and served with another helping of the sweet and sour sauce.
The beef short ribs at The Smoke Joint are covered in a dry rub of cayenne pepper, brown sugar and salt before being smoked with hickory for up to 12 hours. Then they're brushed with a brown sugar, cayenne barbecue sauce and grilled to caramelize the sauce. After another thick layer of sauce, they're ready to eat. Guy calls it "one of the best barbecue things I've ever had."
When it comes to this Italian sandwich, it's all about the gravy – or tomato sauce to the rest of us. The "gravy gone wild" at Defonte's is a tomato sauce with garlic powder, bay leaf, basil and a thick hunk of butter. Added to that are slices of pounded chuck meat that'll simmer in the gravy for about an hour, making it nice and tender. Once the meat is ready, it's piled on white bread, sprinkled with grated cheese and topped with slices of fresh, house-made mozzarella. Then, a quick bake in the oven melts all the flavors together.
What's so special about this seemingly basic burger? It's all about the fat. The Brindle Room's eponymous burger is made with a mixture of prime rib meat and beef chuck, giving it a fat percentage of about 30 percent, up from the typical 20 percent. The six ounce patties are seasoned with salt and pepper, seared in a cast iron skillet, smothered in American cheese and caramelized onions and served on a toasted bun. "It really is a dynamite burger," Guy says.
The stone-ground grits from The Redhead are thickened with milk, butter and a dollop of mascarpone cheese and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Over the grits is a serving of made-to-order shrimp and andouille sausage cooked in shrimp stock with celery, onions, bell peppers, garlic, thyme and parsley.