NYCGuide

The Best Restaurants In Ridgewood

There aren't many neighborhoods where you can chase a Spam sandwich with a bowl of momos and some chicken marsala.
A spread of Japanese sandwiches and bowls on a table.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Look at all the restaurants in Ridgewood—which shared a zip code with Bushwick until the 1980s—and you can get a quick history lesson. In addition to many Ecuadorian and Mexican spots, the neighborhood is home to a longstanding German bakery selling Italian cookies, a few Polish and Ukrainian shops doing takeout stuffed cabbage, and a pizzeria that's been around since the 1960s. New places open every year, but there’s a reason why the old ones have stuck around.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Kate Previte

Pizza

Ridgewood

$$$$Perfect For:Serious Take-Out Operation
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Ridgewood has many solid slice shops and sit-down pizza joints. Eat at all of them, but start at Mano’s. The counter-service spot on the north end of Forest Ave. has only been open since 2021, but it’s already established itself as one of NYC’s best. Fermented for days, the crust on their pies is thin and crackly, with big pockets of air. Try the Fulgheri with provolone and sweet caramelized onions, or the Manopella with vodka sauce and swirls of pesto. Both are named after relatives of the owner, whose parents used to live down the street.

photo credit: Kate Previte

The many specialty grocery stores of Ridgewood range from Ukrainian to halal. Mama Yoshi Mini Mart, a Japanese-inspired konbini, is a newer entry in the field, and it makes an incredible fried chicken katsu sandwich. Get the spicy version, which comes with an enormous cutlet that crunches and burns as it goes down. They also do a version with cauliflower, in addition to a few different bowls and a Spam grilled cheese on charred milk bread. On your way out, pick up some Pocky and a tub of mac salad.

For a hearty meal that’ll run you less than $20 per person, choose Rico Pollo every time. The casual Dominican restaurant serves some of the crispiest pernil in the city, as well as thick chicharron that has an impeccable crunch. Your options also include rotisserie chicken, mofongo, pollo guisado, and roughly a million other dishes that will leave you with quality leftovers. Sit in the fluorescent-lit dining room in the back, or order at the counter, and take your food to go.

This wood-fired restaurant founded by a few Gramercy Tavern alums seems casual, with servers wearing precariously placed beanies, and a constant hum of something that sounds a lot like Khruangbin. But Rolo’s is actually a very serious restaurant that pumps out seriously tasty, detail-oriented food, like a two-sheet lasagna verde that’s rich with bechamel and deliciously charred. It also happens to be a very fun place to go out for dinner or weekend brunch. Get one polenta bread for every two people, and if you want to try their smashburger, go early because they’re normally sold out by 7pm. The same team operates a late-night spot called Hellbender.

Momos in paratha shouldn’t work. The concept sounds too carb-heavy, but Mount Everest Deli & Grocery pulls it off exquisitely. You can order your dumplings wrapped in flatbread at the deli counter of what appears to be a very normal corner store that also sells boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Coated in cheese, the momos are juicy and well-spiced. You can also get them on their own, sans paratha, or you could supplement them with a hefty portion of samosa chat, or chili chicken over rice. 

Pupusas Ridgewood can fit, at most, two people (standing) at one time. The closet-sized counter-service spot serves over 10 different kinds of pupusas—from huitlacoche to chicharron—all of which ooze melted cheese. There are no wrong answers, but we’re partial to the chorizo and classic loroco, with its subtle herbal flavor. Other offerings include tacos, tamales, and a very good bowl of pozole. Keep an eye out for daily specials.

So many options, all of them delicious. Venezuelan street food specialist Cachapas y Mas does patacones, arepas, yoyos, pepitos, and, yes, cachapas as well. They all come with your choice of filling, which means you can get some shredded beef in a sweet corn cake, pollo asado sandwiched between smashed plantains, or chorizo and fried cheese on a hoagie-like roll. Order at the counter, then grab a table inside or on the sidewalk patio and enjoy your over-the-top meal.

On a Friday night you’ll find the Lower East Siders at Rolo’s, but the real party is going down 10 minutes away, at Joe’s Restaurant. This old-school Italian spot has been perfecting its chicken marsala recipe since 1982, and if you’re now thinking to yourself “who eats chicken marsala,” stop right there, because at Joe’s, everyone does. Come here for a birthday dinner, or just when you’re craving a meatball in a dining room with framed paintings of garlic and Venice lining the walls, and big families gesticulating in Italian, with full glasses of house red sloshing back and forth in their hands. 

Should you need a perfect, crunchy Sicillian slice—or maybe a round pie topped with chicken parm—Joe & John’s is the answer. The place has been around since the 1960s, although new owners took over in the 2010s, and they recently relocated to a new location next to the original on Myrtle Ave. The bright, spiffy room features a glass case filled with infinite varieties of pizza topped with eggplant, buffalo chicken, and your typical cheese and pepperoni. They also serve pasta, arancini, and one of the finest sandwiches in the neighborhood: a chicken cutlet with vodka sauce on a garlic knot bun.

If you’re in the market for a can of kajmak or a pound of kielbasa, Hetman Polish Deli can help with that. The narrow shop is stuffed wall-to-wall with meats, cheese, and Polish groceries, and there’s a counter in the back where you can pick up some pre-made food. The doughy pierogies are essential, and you should also get some stuffed cabbage, a chicken cutlet, and a slab of housemade cake topped with Oreos. You can easily spend around $20 and walk away with a bag that’ll strain your biceps.

There are many reasons to spend time at Aunt Ginny’s, the halfway-divey bar on Woodward Ave. The pool table, for example, and the ​​X-Men vs. Street Fighter machine. But if we had to pick one, it would be I Like Food, the restaurant-within-a-bar located at a counter hidden in the back. Have a drink, then stroll over and order some wings, a fried chicken sandwich, or a pernil crunchwrap that’s so heavy you could use it as a doorstop. They have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, and you can always do takeout if you don’t have the energy to mingle with your neighbors.

From a Ridgewood local whose father runs another spot (Nepalese Indian Restaurant) down the street, While In Kathmandu is a neighborhood clubhouse catering to those who’d rather not spend over $30 on dinner. The menu is Nepali, but in a fusion-y sort of way, with a whole “New York x Kathmandu” section featuring items like masala fries and fish and chips. Always start with an order of momos served in a pool of thick soup.

Decades is a pizza parlor for people who remember dining-in at Pizza Hut back in the day. The '80s basement interior—wood walls, white subway tiles, a neon green accent light—will give you first-date flashbacks, except now you can get a nice bottle of wine with your Real ID. There are three classic tomato and cheese-based pies, as well as a full list of special pies with toppings like maitake mushroom, 'nduja, and potatoes. Priced at $25-$35 per pie, these are on the pricier side, but they’re pretty big and manage to be thin, crisp, fluffy, and charred in all the right places.

Rudy’s makes a mean bienenstich. The place was, after all, founded as a German bakery in the 1930s—although it’s been in the hands of an Italian American family for quite a few decades now, and offerings include biscotti and alfajores. Whenever you pop in, you’re guaranteed to see a crowd of locals chatting with the folks behind the counter, picking up boxes of cookies and slices of black forest cake.

There will be mornings when you decide that a fistful of granola simply won’t cut in. You need a better breakfast, but who’s going to provide it? The breakfast burrito at Mama Yoshi is a very decent choice, and the paratha egg wrap at Mount Everest always gets the job done, but Norma’s is the first spot you should think of. Crispy on the outside and buttery on the inside, their biscuits are the perfect vehicles for eggs, cheddar, and thick slabs of spicy bacon. Later in the day, swing by for a chicken melt or a turkey sandwich on sourdough.

Wherever you are in Ridgewood, you’ll always be within a few blocks of a very decent Mexican restaurant. If it’s specifically quesadillas you’re after—and it should be—head to Las Chilangas. The thick housemade corn tortillas here make all the difference. Try the quesadilla stuffed with stretchy cheese and a few different slow-cooked cuts of pork. It’s one of the best bites you’ll find in the neighborhood. We’re also fans of the chorizo tacos, and the guajillo-soaked pambazo is great for when you’re extra hungry.

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Before there was Rolo’s, there was Ltauha. The original Ridgewood American bistro, around for nearly a decade now, isn’t as new or shiny as some other restaurants in the neighborhood, but the food still holds up. For a quiet date night, stop by and eat some cavatelli with duck ragu, or roast chicken with crispy dumpling-like gnocchi. You should, obviously, take advantage of the frozen margarita machine sitting on the end of the bar, preferably during Happy Hour.

Ecuadorian food is a big part of Ridgewood. There are a lot of good street vendors and sit-down spots, but the one we spend the most time at is this all-day cafe on Seneca Ave. Take a seat in the bright, cafeteria-like dining room and enjoy some creamy guatita, rotisserie chicken, or a platter with steak, eggs, chorizo, and chicharrón. Before you leave, take a long look at the enormous glass case filled with cake, cookies, and flaky guava turnovers.

The glasses of wine at Antica Trattoria start around $9, and the pastas are all under $20. Doesn’t that sound nice? Wouldn’t you like to sit under a mural of an Italian street scene and listen to Phil Collins while you eat a bowl of orecchiette? Other than some exceptionally stretchy mozzarella in carrozza, the food isn’t too awe-inspiring, but neither are the prices. There are only around 10 tables, and it shouldn’t be hard to snag one.

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