Sawa, a Levantine destination in Park Slope. Illustration: Naomi Otsu

Welcome to Grub Street’s rundown of restaurant recommendations that aims to answer the endlessly recurring question: Where should we go? These are the spots that our food team thinks everyone should visit, for any reason (a new chef, the arrival of an exciting dish, or maybe there’s an opening that’s flown too far under the radar). This month: an actually good restaurant near Penn Station, fresh pitas in Park Slope, and a Greek spot in Tribeca that elevates lunch.

1915 Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles (Kips Bay)
Located on East 26th Street just off Third Ave, 1915 Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles is a brisk walk from Baruch College, and business seems brisk, too. Walls are decorated with framed photos of noodle pulling, including one of a Westerner studiously observing the fine art. Here, too, you can watch the chefs at work. On a recent Monday, one enthusiastically kneaded big lumps of dough while Mandopop singer Fish Leong’s “Love Song” played. Those noodles are available six ways (including thin, thicker, or flat and wide) and in 14 different bowls including the signature, which comes with slices of beef, thick rounds of daikon radish, and a bit too much chile oil. My vote goes to the pickled cabbage beef noodles, which comes with finely chopped pickled mustard greens and chunks of brisket that are nicely tender. Skip the lamb burger in favor of the pan-fried buns or langya fried potato strips. Stained red and freckled with chile, the crinkle-cut fries are a bit salty but, nevertheless, can’t be put down. —Chris Crowley

Daphne’s (Bedford-Stuyvesant)
“What did this place used to be?” the man sitting catty-corner from me asked his date on a recent visit to this new Italian restaurant on Halsey. The answer, until recently, was a bodega that always seemed half-stocked. But you would never be able to tell as much after the renovation. The 50-seat dining room is ringed by high-backed, pine-green banquettes and was already packed during its second week of service. There are many reasons to be excited about this opening: It’s a new go-to for the neighborhood; it has a well-curated and reasonably priced list of natural wine; and it offers a series of heavy-hitting starters, from baked scallops served in their shells to, my favorite, punchy calamari salad with shaved celery. Most of all, go for the pastas. Razor-clam reginetti, topped with chives and a big helping of breadcrumbs, was a personal favorite. —Edward Hart 

Sawa (Park Slope)
This new Levantine restaurant from siblings Samaya Boueri Ziade and George Boueri made an understated debut in April, introducing family-inspired Lebanese to the neighborhood. You’re greeted by a tiled oven that produces scores of the fluffy, dusty pitas that are sent out to the open, bright dining room in what was previously an Irish pub. Sofreh alum Soroosh Golbabae has helped put together a menu with many Lebanese classics like lamb shank kibbeh arnabiyeh, which falls off the bone in an almost dramatic fashion. The surprisingly sweet beef cheek with pine nuts is a must-add to the hummus, and the citrus-forward samke nayeh cured fluke felt more refreshing than most crudi I’ve had recently. —Zach Schiffman 

Bar Primi (Chelsea)
There are restaurants of convenience and restaurants of inconvenience. The new Bar Primi, with all due respect, is the latter type, a foundation stone of what developer Vornado is calling the “Penn District,” across the street from Penn Station. This is a location your life will conspire to send you with little thought for what you’re meant to eat in the hour before or after your train, your show, your Rangers game. For all these, Primi is a welcome solution. This giant second location of Andrew Carmellini’s longtime Bowery pasta bar is already bustling within a month of opening. (The people running it know their audience: There’s an extra-large coat room for baggage, a hostess told me.) The menu leans Italian American — calamari fritti here dubbed Verrazano — but grilled sea bass with Castelvetrano olive relish had enough mother-country polish to take you far away from the train station. It’s enough fun for kids — the fava puree, unlike the grownup version at Roman’s, is Shamrock Shake green — and for adult kids: The bar offers a $7 “solid negroni” in the form of a Jell-O shot. —Matthew Schneier

Da Toscano (Greenwich Village)
Michael Toscano’s return to New York — a trattoria in the former Perla space — opened just about six weeks before the first case of COVID hit New York, diminishing his triumphant comeback tour a tad. That doesn’t seem to have hurt business; it’s been basically full since the minute people started going back to restaurants. There is a good reason to visit this not-exactly-new spot right now, however, and that is the gnudi: soft orbs of ricotta, the thinnest of cheesy membranes barely holding them together. On top, a pile of fat morel mushrooms, the absolute king of early spring ingredients. (Sorry, ramps, you know it’s true.) The menu lists truffle butter — I’d guess it’s an attempt to visually justify the $45 price tag that’s actually necessitated by the wildly high cost of morels — but you can ignore that. The cheese, the mushrooms, the slightest floral perfume of fresh tarragon: This is a spring dish that justifies its premium price. —Alan Sytsma 

Paros (Tribeca)
Midday, when the light streams in through the tall windows on both sides of the room and brightens the clean white walls, dining at Paros is exceptionally pleasurable. It helps that the menu is full of the exact type of vegetable- and protein-heavy compilations I want for lunch, including my new favorite Big-Ass Salad, consisting of baby gems, halved and doused with “Greek goddess” dressing and two types of cheese: grated mizithra and oozy, crunchy “croutons” of fried kefalograviera. I perfected the salad with the addition of chicken breast for $11, which was freshly seared and juicy. Have someone meet you to split a salad for lunch so you can flank it with the spanakorizo, a comforting rice-and-spinach stew; fat, tender lemon-potato wedges; and kolokithokeftedes, thick zucchini pancakes flavored with more sharp cheese. Save room for their portokalopita, cake oozing with sticky essence and served with a refreshing scoop of frozen yogurt. It begs for a cup of strong black coffee and a shot of ouzo if the afternoon allows. —Tammie Teclemariam

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