Secret Dishes in NYC: 10 Must-Try Off-the-Menu Items

By Kelly Dobkin  |  July 21, 2014

Most New York diners think they've seen and ordered it all, but chefs love to thrill the customers with secret dishes for those in the know. Check out some of NYC's hottest off-the-menu dishes in the slide show below. The secret's out on these 10, but did we miss any of your secret menu favorites? If so, tell us in the comments. 

  • Carbonara Pizza at Nicoletta

    Diners in the know can request a secret pie at Michael White's East Village pizza den, Nicoletta. Chef de cuisine Michael Cariglio will whip up a special carbonara pizza (based on the flavors in the classic pasta) made with pancetta and asparagus and topped with chopped chives and three fried eggs.

    160 Second Ave.; 212-432-1600

  • Roti S'mores at Pasar Malam

    ​This night-market inspired Malaysian eatery is a welcome addition to Williamsburg for its authentic creations, including a variety of traditional rotis. But chef-owner Salil Mehta has a secret dish up his sleeve with an American spin when it comes to dessert. His s'mores roti starts with the roti dough, which is sweetened up with a bit of sugar and evaporated milk and then is stretched out super-thin and cooked on a buttered griddle. The crêpelike result is then stuffed with crumbled graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate, then topped with toasted marshmallows.  East meets west in one delightful bite.

    208 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-487-4576

  • Monarch Burger at The Monarch Room

    Chef Michael Citarella (formerly of Freeman's) is offering a secret burger on the menu at this Chelsea hot spot from Monday to Thursday evenings. The Monarch burger ($24) uses a very select cut of meat to make its eight-oz. patty: an all-natural super-premium brand called 7x, which is taken from a single steer (with a 20% fat ratio) and doesn't use scraps. The flavor of this high-quality meat speaks for itself as it is simply garnished with aged cheddar, beefsteak tomatoes, Bibb lettuce and a special sauce, all served on a toasted caraway-seed bun.  

    408 W. 15th St.; 646-790-7070

  • Foie Gras and Fig Mostarda at Claudette

    The Village's charming new Provençal-inspired Claudette from owner Carlos Suarez and chef Koren Grieveson has an extravagant secret menu item that's worth knowing about. For $160, you can enjoy a whole Hudson Valley foie gras seared and served with fig mostarda.

    24 Fifth Avenue, 212-868-2424

  • French Onion Soup Burger at Little Prince

    Chef Matt Conroy now mans the stoves at this charming SoHo neighborhood bistro, but former chef Paul Denamiel's famed French Onion Soup burger remains available as an off-menu item. The juicy patty is topped with creamy béchamel sauce, caramelized onions and Dijon mustard and is served on a griddled English muffin. 

    199 Prince St., 212-335-0566

  • Alaskan King Crab Legs at TAO Downtown

    Just three days notice will get you a heaping plate of Alaskan king crab prepared by chef-partner Ralph Scamardella at the Downtown Maritime Hotel outpost of the iconic Uptown Asian eatery. Held in saltwater tanks, the delicious crustaceans are cooked in a wok to order and served with a choice of of black bean, green chile, or red chile sauces.

    92 Ninth Ave.; 212-888-2724

  • Duck and Foie Gras Burger at é​lan

    The recently opened élan, from former Chanterelle chef David Waltuck, already has a secret menu item that knowing diners are buzzing about. Waltuck's cooking is rooted firmly in classic French technique, which means that the Downtown chef isn't afraid of rich flavors, and this special item is no exception. Behold: a duck and foie gras burger with bacon mayonnaise (yes, you read that correctly), caramelized onion and fig chutney. You can order this decadent burger at dinner for $20, and it's served on a toasted brioche bun and served with a side of smashed, crusty fingerlings.  

    43 E. 20th St.; 646-682-7105

  • Credit: Ben Fink

    Pasta Primavera at Le Cirque

    This is the O.G. of Manhattan off-the-menu items. According to Le Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni, he invented the dish on a vacation to Prince Edward Island in 1975. After tiring of eating nothing but seafood and wild boar for days, Maccioni created two pasta dishes, one with an assortment of fresh vegetables and another with a creamy Alfredo sauce. Mixing them all together, he created his restaurant's iconic pasta primavera —  a mixture of vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, pea pods, asparagus and green beans are sautéed with a creamy Alfredo sauce. The dish is still not on the printed menu, and it is still prepared tableside for anyone who orders it.

    151 E. 58th St.; 212-644-0202

  • Flying Hawaiian Pizza at Fabrick

    ​David Burke's latest eatery in the Archer Hotel already has a secret menu item after only a few weeks of operation. On request, executive chef Adin Langille will prepare a "Flying Hawaiian pizza," which is topped with pickled pineapple and candied bacon.

    47 W. 38th St.; 212-302-3838

  • Grilled Cheese and the Garden Dog at Shake Shack

    Perhaps the most famous secret menu item in NYC is the grilled cheese at Shake Shack. Instead of bread, the chain uses griddled burger buns to melt slices of American cheese to gooey perfection. It's a classic. But aside from the grilled cheese, Shake Shack can also make a veggie version of its Shack-cago dog that features all the toppings minus the meat. They start with a potato roll and layer a bed of lettuce on top. Then onion, cucumber, pickles, tomatoes and sport peppers are added and garnished with double mustard, Rick's Picks Shack relish and celery salt. 

    Multiple locations