Carmen Quagliata, the executive chef since 2007, sticks to good, old, familiar basics while adding his own flair to the restaurant’s classic theme. Appetizers range in price from $20 for wild nettle (ingredients change seasonally) sformato, a cross between a dense soufflé and a crustless quiche, to $23 for ideally crunchy fritto misto, along with oysters from the US and Canada for $4. Pasta entrees include ricotta gnocchi (aka little clouds of heaven) for $22 and rigatoni with Greek yogurt and pancetta for $25.
Along with everything else, Danny Meyer knows his burgers. The thick bacon provides a great amount of chew to a medium-rare burger that is laden with cheddar on a brioche bun, and it’s one of the most popular main dishes ($28). You can also opt for seasonal seafood dishes; there is always something fun and exciting to try. You can’t go wrong with desserts at USC, but do go for the chocolate pecan tart or strawberry pavlova if you prefer a lighter dessert.
Danny Meyer’s much-anticipated remake of Union Square Cafe didn’t disappoint. The environment, the service, and (of course) the food is pitch-perfect. The warm, personable, and approachable service truly lives up to the Union Square Hospitality Group and Danny Meyer’s core beliefs around hospitality. There is also something very new for New York City: Menu prices include hospitality, so there is no tipping. This new way of doing business is designed to compensate the entire team — in both the kitchen and the dining room — making it more equitable while providing clear paths for professional advancement.
The team behind USC used this opportunity to reinvent themselves, reimagine their traditions, and take things to another level. They undoubtedly succeeded. It’s straightforward cooking that is faithful to the ingredients with an emphasis on thoughtful execution. Although USC has been around for over 30 years, it is still completely fresh and on-point. The restaurant has won five James Beard Awards and earned Zagat Survey’s #1 ranking as New York’s Most Popular Restaurant an unprecedented nine times. After all, Union Square Cafe was one of the originators of contemporary American cuisine, and it remains one of the New York City’s famous gourmet landmarks.
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