Best Russian restaurants NYC

I was your typical rebellious Russian immigrant child growing up in Texas. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke and I didn’t get B’s on my report cards. Instead, I committed a much greater sin, at least as far as Russian mothers are concerned: I rejected my home country’s cuisine.

The worst was when I would have friends over to my house. My mom would prepare a big Russian spread complete with Salat Olivier, pickled cabbage, caviar sandwiches and radishes for garnish. How embarrassing!

I just wanted to fit in, OK?! So sue me. I would beg my mother nightly to make Pasta Roni for dinner.

Secretly, though, I loved Russian food, and I’d fill up on salty herring leftovers when no one was looking. What’s not to love about it? I’ve always wondered why Italian and Chinese cuisines are mainstream, while most Americans can’t even name one item off the Russian menu. I mean, Russian food is so salty. It’s so fishy. It’s so . . . mayonnaise-y! Oh. Did I just answer my own question?

By my teen years, I came out of the Russian-food closet and began openly enjoying everything my family cooked: pelmeni, caviar and blinchiki, beef stroganoff, borscht — I was in heaven!

But things went bleak when I moved to Manhattan in 2010. Feasts of the motherland were not constantly accessible to me. So, spurred on by the Winter Olympics in Russia, I set out on a mission. Dreading the long shlep to Brighton Beach’s Little Odessa, I was determined to find the food of my family in Manhattan.

The Russian Tea Room (150 W. 57th St.; 212-581-7100) was my first stop. Even the grand atmosphere couldn’t distract from the fact that they were in it to please American tourists more than anyone. The only truly Russian thing in the whole place was our waiter Sasha, who, when my friend said, “I’m good, ” to signal she’d had enough on her plate, responded sternly, “You not good, ” and continued serving her until the plate was perfect by his standards.

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Q&A

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Which websites give recommendations for the best restaurants in NYC

There are many different websites that give recommendations for the best restaurants in New York City. The most popular websites are Time Out New York, New York Magazine, Urbanspoon and Zagat.