Michael Chernow

A portrait of a man in a check shirt

The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s cofounder shares some of his most memorable meals of all time

Michael Chernow is a restaurateur, entrepreneur, TV host and fitness personality based in New York City. In 2010, he cofounded the successful NYC restaurant chain The Meatball Shop and has since gone on to cofound the much-loved seafood concept, Seamores, as well as a health beverage collection called WellWell. He has also worked as a host on FYI’s TV show Food Porn and serves as a board member and community leader for the NYC charity, City Harvest.

Below, he fills us in on some of his favourite meals of all time.

Cal Pep, Barcelona
‘My favourite restaurant in the world. I went here in 2006 for the first time with my wife, who was then my girlfriend. From the moment I walked in, I was in awe of the energy – every sense was triggered. The food obviously was incredible, but this place truly encompassed the essence of what a restaurant is supposed to be. The lighting was golden, the sound was balanced, the feeling in the space was electric in an elegant and laid-back way. The food was simply sent out. No menus, just the goodness from the kitchen.’

Blue Ribbon Brasserie, New York City
‘April 24, 2005 – my first date ever with my wife. I met Donna on Friday, April 22 when I was bartending at Frank in the East Village. I was floored by her beauty. She hung out at the bar all night with me and her friend Linda. Her birthday was on the 25th, and I asked her if I could take her out. She said she had plans, so I suggested I take her out on the 24th and we celebrate at midnight on the 25th, and she agreed. I took her to Blue Ribbon, one of my favourite restaurants. It was her first experience with oysters, and I also ordered the famous bone marrow and oxtail marmalade. We had the fruits di mare as well, plus a steak, and ended with the chocolate cake… I remember it like it was yesterday. We ended up at Cafe Reggio in the West Village and made out in the back booth. Best night ever.’ 

Viand Diner, New York City
‘I grew up on East 87th street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, and the Viand Diner was on the corner of 86th and 2nd Avenue. As a kid, my friends and I would go there for three things: the French onion soup, split pea soup and their grilled cheese with tomatoes and thick fries. I honestly love that place.’ 

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
‘Another meal I will never forget was my first time at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, which could be one of the top three restaurants in the world for me. The food is absolutely incredible, especially the fried quail, their signature dish. Everything about that restaurant is incredible, like American dim sum.’

Ray Bari Pizza, New York City
‘Last but not least, Ray Bari Pizza – the pizza that made my childhood. Anyone who remembers this place will agree with me. It was on the corner of 76th and 3rd Avenue. The sauce was unbelievable, the cheese always plentiful and incredibly melty. I ate a lot of pizza here as a kid. It’s not there anymore, but I have always been on the prowl for a New York slice that hits the mark like Ray Bari’s.’