Upscale seafood doing well in New York

Published on
October 7, 2009

Upscale seafood restaurants are among the top rated restaurants in New York, according to Zagat’s 2010 New York City restaurant survey, released yesterday.

Zagat’s “top newcomer” restaurant is Marea in Central Park South, which the publication says offers “inventive” Italian takes on seafood. Other top newcomers include: Porchetta, Buttermilk Channel, Txikito and Char No. 4. Meanwhile, Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin, which focuses extensively on seafood, was rated number one in “Top Food.”

“There are a lot of good seafood restaurants, including Le Bernardin, Milos, the No. 1 Greek restaurant in New York City with the freshest fish imaginable, and Pearl Oyster Bar, a New England clam shack type of place,” said Tim Zagat, CEO and co-founder of Zagat Survey.

While the New York restaurant industry has suffered this year during the recession, it remains strong overall and many fine-dining eateries are still performing well, said Zagat.

For example, there were 157 restaurant openings versus 102 closings in Zagat’s latest survey. In addition, many businesses are still paying for their employees to eat out. “White collar jobs have grown, and most of the jobs encourage people to work late and they pay for a free meal,” added Zagat.

Restaurant industry growth has also come from offering good alternatives to eating at home. “There are homey, hearty, ethnic restaurants that are providing good food at a very good price, with very nice ambience,” said Zagat. In addition, the restaurant industry has responded to a fundamental need: more women are working and do not have time to cook, he added. “With the value of your time and buying the food, you would be better off spending an extra hour on what you do well.”

At the same time, the survey of 38,868 avid New York diners shows that they are eating out less — an average of 3 times per week, down from 3.3 to 3.4 times per week during the four prior years. In addition, 41 percent said they are eating at less expensive eateries, 43 percent are paying more attention to prices, 21 percent are skipping appetizers and/or desserts and 19 percent are cutting back on alcohol.

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