Our 10 Most Pretentious Restaurants


New York City teems with restaurants, offering diners many, many tasty options. With delicious often comes pretentious, though. Just because a restaurant serves up some good grub doesn’t mean that the overall dining experience is worth the trip. And so we’ve come up with our 10 most pretentious restaurants. Certainly other pretentious places abound, so if we forgot your favorite, leave a suggestion in the comments.

10. Ippudo — No question, the food at Ippudo is great. Nothing warms the soul on a cold day like a bowl of the akamaru modern or the special karaka-men. But a restaurant that quotes you a two- to three-hour wait time, unapologetically and without acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation? No thanks. Even Nate Appleman agrees the restaurant’s pretentious. 65 Fourth Avenue, 212-388-0088

9. Norma’s — Three words: Thousand dollar frittata. The restaurant in Le Parker Meridien serves a six-egg frittata topped with lobster claws and 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar for a mere thousand smackers, which is just over the top and ridiculous. 119 West 56th Street, 212-708-7460

8. Le Bilboquet — Unless your name is Muffy and you’ve been patronizing this French bistro since your days at Chapin to eat crab salad and hobnob with the friends you summer with in Biarritz, chances are you’ve had to deal with the rude and snobbish staff. 25 East 63rd Street, 212-751-3036

7. Torrisi Italian Specialties — Yes, you’re so precious with the old-school food products lining the shelves, your single menu, and your floral decorated china. A tad too much, though, no? Furthermore, how is anyone ever supposed to eat at your 18-seat restaurant if you don’t take reservations? Not everyone gets out of work at 5 o’clock! 250 Mulberry Street, 212-965-0955

6. Momofuku Ko — There’s a lot of pomposity going on at David Chang’s 12-seat prix-fixe restaurant without waiters. Surely, its most obnoxious element is its reservation system (what, a party of three can’t dine there?), but the cuisine can be overly precious and the rule about no photography is annoying. 163 First Avenue, 212-500-0831

5. Diner — Yes, this was the restaurant that ushered in “Brooklyn Cuisine” (and the accompanying holier-than-thou culinary outlook that now pervades the borough). Admittedly, the food can be quite good. But it’s galling that servers write out the menu on the paper place mat. We get it. You’re soooo cool and soooo into seasonal fare and you’re soooo creative that the menu is never the same. 85 Broadway, 718-486-3077

4. The Lion — OK. You want to give off the air that you’re an exclusive dining club that wouldn’t allow us inside. But really, did you have to install fake ivy on the facade? An overly affected touch, especially for a place that serves basically upscale country-club food. 62 West 9th Street, 212-353-8400

3. Il Matto — When experimental cuisine is done right, it’s amazing, but there’s a fine line between innovative and irritating. This Tribeca Italian restaurant’s cocktail menu includes martinis flavored with Mongolian rocks soaked in vermouth for 12 hours. Which pretty much defines pretension. 281 Church Street, 212- 226-1607

2. Brooklyn Fare — A tasting menu is a unique opportunity for a chef to pull out all the stops. Yet there’s something about Cesar Ramirez’s whopping 20-course prix-fixe meal at his 18-seat Chef’s Table that irks us. We’re all for a no-cell-phone rule in restaurants, but really, requests for no photography and no note taking? Sometimes you just want a lasting souvenir of a meal. What ever happened to the customer always being right? 200 Schermerhorn Street, 718-243-0050

1. Nello — This Upper East Side Italian restaurant takes the cake with its ridiculously overpriced menu (entrees average $50 — $50!), pompous attitude, and decidedly snooty (unless you’re named Beyoncé or Jay-Z, that is) staff. Let’s spell it out: This place is P-R-E-T-E-N-T-I-O-U-S. 696 Madison Avenue, 212-980-9099


Archive Highlights