The Docsconz Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2012


For the past few years, at the end of each year,  I have composed a list of my favorite restaurant meals of of that year. Obviously, this is a totally subjective list based upon my experience at the time and my memory. The rankings are entirely relative and based upon very difficult to define criteria, but they reflect the overall experience of the meal and not just one or two aspects of it. The food and its overall deliciousness is the single most important element, but ambiance, service, mood and circumstance all play significant roles. All of the meals listed here were outstanding as were many that didn’t make it this far up the list. I ate very, very well in 2012. Click the links to read my posts on each meal. I did not rank any meals not in restaurants or that were special one-time multi-chef extravaganzas.

  1. Osteria Francescana – 4/11/12 – Modena, Italy – Massimo Bottura is one of the most creative and generous chefs I know. He never ceases to amaze me. This dinner with my son was perfect. The food was fun, creative and delicious with stories about the dishes woven by Massimo, an incredible storyteller. Neither my son, nor I, will ever forget this wonderful dinner.
  2. Pujol – 7/21 &25/12 – Mexico City, Mexico – Enrique Olvera has simplified his cooking, in the process making it even more elegant and delicious than it already was. Two dinners within a week helped show his incredible breadth and depth. His cooking assures Mexican cuisine has its place on the world stage that it so richly deserves.
  3. La Pergola – 4/17/12 – Rome, Italy – German chef, Heinz Beck, cooks amazing, creative Italian food. His Fagotelli “La Pergola” may be the finest pasta dish I’ve ever had (outside of my mother’s crab sauce). The restaurant is elegant without being stuffy and the food matches that sensibility.
  4. The Catbird Seat – 5/5/12 – Nashville, TN – Bold, balanced flavors, creative cooking, a novel beverage program and a relaxed vibe make a great restaurant. I wish it were closer.
  5. Fiola – 10/13/12 – Washington, D.C. – Not for the faint of wallet, but Chef Fabio Trabocchi makes food that is just outright delicious and worth every cent.
  6. Atera – 5/8/12 – NYC – Delicious creative cookery, fine wine and a fabulous ambience made for a wonderful meal. I look forward to what the future holds for Chef Lightner and crew.
  7. Pillar & Plough 1/14/12 – Williamsburg, Brooklyn – It was wonderful to see that fine dining and creative coking remains alive and well in the USA. The mole with tripe will stir my memory for some time!
  8. Elements – 2/19/12 – Princeton, N.J. Incredible ingredients expertly and creatively prepared eaten in great company makes for a wonderful meal. It was worth making the drive from Montreal to New Jersey.
  9. Antica Corte Pallavicina – 4/12/12 – Polesine Parmense, Emiglia Romagna, Italy – The Spigarolis make what are probably the finest hams in Italy and some of the finest hams in the world. Their Culatelli di Zibello made from the black pigs and aged for 37 months are ethereally good. The restaurant served this at its best, but their pastas were heavenly as well.
  10. La Poblanita – 7/24/12 – Puebla, Mexico – A tiny stall just off the main Zocalo of Puebla, these two women make what perhaps is the most delicious sandwich that I have ever had. The pelona, a sandwich with bread deep-fried in canola oil and stuffed with a bevy of compatible delights, wasas close to perfect as a sandwich could be. The molote with tinga was equally incredible. Thanks to Rebecca Smith of for her delicious tour of Poblano street food.
  11. Amaranta – 7/27/12 – Toluca, Mexico – Chef Pablo Salas prepares exquisite Mexican food in a lovely, comfortable restaurant that deserves to be much more well known than it is.
  12. Le Cirque – 10/3/12 – NYC – Delicious, classic food with top quality, luxe ingredients all while doted on in the kitchen table – what’s not to love? The sweetbreads were absolutely sensational.
  13. City Zen – 10/17/12 – Washington, DC – Great food at the kitchen table with great company of college classmates made this a total winner.
  14. Semitas “Beto” – 7/24/12 – Puebla, Mexico – Another stop on Rebecca Smith’s Poblano street food tour, located in the Mercado de la Acocota, their Semita Milanesa may be the second best sandwich that I’ve ever had. Unlike some other semitas, the amount of papalo, a very strong herb, was just right. One can taste it, but it didn’t overpower the rest of the sandwich.
  15. Franceschetta 58 – 4/12/12 – Modena, Italy – Massimo Bottura’s casual, traditional Italian restaurant is set in a well designed, funky space and each wonderful dish prepared by the lovely, veteran chef, Marta Pulini is only 7 Euros.
  16. MeroToro – 7/25 &27/12 – Mexico City, Mexico – Chef Jair Tellez cooks mostly seafood in this Baja-Med gem. The seafood is pristine and delicious. Perhaps surprisingly, so are the non-seafood dishes.
  17. Acme – 5/9/12 – NYC – Mads Refslund brought his Danish sensibility to marry East Coast product and made a wonderful child. The food is creative and tasty. A brief chat with Meryl Streep didn’t hurt either.
  18. Il Chiasso – 4/13-15/12 – Capoliveri, Elba, Italy – Luciano Casini is a character of the highest (and best) order. His kitchen, run by the most capable Dido, put out wonderful dish after wonderful dish. Amongst the most memorable were Riso nero, gnocchi with pigeon sauce, stuffed anchovies and a fava stew.
  19. Ristorante Grigolo – 4/14/12 – Rio Marina, Elba, Italy – Flavio Deni takes wonderful fresh seafood and pastas and allows their magic to shine in full glory. His fresh, marinated anchovies, octopus stew and pasta with fish and tomatoes were simple perfection.
  20. Cucharamama – 7/20/12 – Hoboken, NJ – JBF Award winner Maricel Presilla gets as much flavor out of these South American inspired dishes as possible, and that is plenty.
  21. Little Serow – 10/16/12 – Washington, DC – No pics and no real post, but this was a thoroughly enjoyable meal of exquisitely balanced and delicious northern Thai flavors prepared by Chef Johnny Monis.
  22. Antica Macelleria Cecchini – 4/10/12 – Panzano in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy – This was a pure celebration of meat with particular attention paid to beef. Dario Cecchini’s lunch is a downright bargain.
  23. Blanca – 12/15/12 – Brooklyn, NY – Chef Carlo Mirarchi is the consummate culinary craftsman. He takes great raw ingredients and works to bring out the very best from them. Only some theatrics surrounding the meal kept it from a higher ranking.
  24. City House – 5/6/12 – Nashville, TN – Is this Italian food with a southern flair or Southern food with an Italian personality? Does it matter? It’s just great, flavorful food. The Buffalo pig’s ear is particularly memorable.
  25. Arthur on Smith – 6/29/12 – Brooklyn, NY – Chef Joe Isidori does a masterful job walking a fine line between traditional Italian-American cooking and adding his own flair. The place is comfortable and the food is full of great flavor and texture – very, very satisfying. My family and I had another wonderful meal here to celebrate what would have been my father’s 100th birthday with a special menu.
  26. Empellón Cocina – 5/4/12 – NYC – Chef Alex Stupak is creating bold, inventive dishes with the real flavors of Mexico. He is breaking new ground. Though numbered at 26, I consider this a tie with Arthur on Smith, which is posted alphabetically.

This entry was posted in Bistronomic, Cheese, Cocktails & Libations, Fine Dining, Food and Drink, Italy, Mexico, New Jersey, New York City, Pastry, Regional, Restaurants, Slow Food, The Southern USA, Top Restaurant Meals, Top Tastes, Traditional Ethnic, Travel, Washington, D.C., Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Docsconz Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2012

  1. Pingback: The Docsconz Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2012 | CookingPlanet

  2. Jane Gregg says:

    Love City House in Nashville. I go there every time I’m visiting college sons at Vanderbilt.

    • docsconz says:

      Good choice! I would too! It’s a great mix of excellent food and a cool atmosphere. Have you been to The Catbird Seat yet?

      • Jane Gregg says:

        Not yet, but I hope to go next time. Do you recommend it?
        Of note at City House–an awesome (gin-based) cocktail called the Porch Pounder.

        • docsconz says:

          Jane, I absolutely recommend The Catbird Seat, one of my favorite restaurants in the country! I’ll have to try that Porch Pounder next time I’m at City House. Thanks!

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