Longtime Esquire critic John Mariani has left the building, and in his stead, Josh Ozersky (the force behind meat-centric culinary event Meatopia) has stepped into the role of choosing the best new restaurants across the nation. This year, the list included two spots from San Francisco: The Commissary, Traci des Jardins' Presidio Spanish spot, and Tosca Cafe, the West Coast expansion from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman. Tosca, in particular, is on a roll, having also notched a Best New Restaurants berth from Bon Appetit a couple of months ago.
Ozersky dubs The Commissary "beautifully understated, flawlessly executed, Zen-simple," praising "one of the best chickens [he's] ever had" and great vegetables ("everything connected with the plant kingdom sings"). At Tosca, he's all about the "ethereal, transparent, life-affirming minestrone soup" and "peerless" bucatini, not to mention another outstanding chicken, with "a marsala sauce that just won't quit." All in all, he thinks it's "the best restaurant Bloomfield and Friedman have ever done."
The title of Restaurant of the Year went to NYC's The Cecil, while Paul Qui of Austin's Qui was named Chef of the Year. The other featured restaurants:
· Chi Spacca (Los Angeles)
· Knife (Dallas)
· Gunshow (Atlanta)
· Husk (Nashville)
· Faith & Flower (Los Angeles)
· Cask & Larder (Winter Park, Florida)
· Rappahannock (Richmond)
· Nico Osteria (Chicago)
· The Commissary (San Francisco)
· Take Root (Brooklyn)
· Tosca Cafe (San Francisco)