Where Ci Siamo's Hillary Sterling Shops for the Best Ingredients in NYC
The newly reviewed chef has a fleet of favorite purveyors
Earlier this month, Hillary Sterling was recognized for her “lively, inviting style” from Pete Wells of The New York Times. The head chef of Ci Siamo in Manhattan West, which opened in the fall, is owned by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Sterling had previously been at Vic’s on Great Jones Street, where she served destination-worthy Italian fare. Before that, Sterling cooked in New York restaurants such as A Voce, for example, as well as under Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill and Bolo.
Having a hand in building the vision for Ci Siamo — as well as the opportunity to team up with pastry luminary Claudia Fleming — may be a recipe for success: The deep pockets of Union Square Hospitality and cooking at the photogenic wood-fired hearth don’t hurt, either. We checked in with Sterling to find out more about her cooking right now as well as places she enjoys when she’s not at her restaurant.
BP: What restaurant do you visit most besides your own?
HS: I never get tired of Via Carota or I Sodi — they're classic and consistent in the best way. Via Carota at lunch is really the move. A seat at the bar with their insalata verde and chicken liver toast has all the makings of a perfect afternoon. A quick negroni at Bar Pisellino doesn't hurt either. In my neighborhood, St. Anselm and their excellent lamb blade shoulder is a perennial favorite.
What's your favorite produce stop or farmers market vendor?
For bitter greens, it's always Campo Rosso. They have incredible radicchio, Tardivo and Castelfranco, in addition to Datterini tomatoes and amazing peppers come summer.
Do you have a go-to butcher and or fish purveyor?
What's the food shopping experience that brings you joy?
I get a lot of joy from the act of grocery shopping itself. Having time to make all the stops in that old school kind of way — going to one place for bread, stopping by the butcher, dropping into Fortunato's for some Italian cookies... That's how we shopped growing up and I'm glad there are still highly specialized, family-owned spots out there.
Any other hidden gems?
SOS Chefs is one of the most exciting places to shop — whenever I'm there I discover something new. They're a treasure trove with every spice imaginable and quality pantry staples that elevate home cooking to an entirely different level.
What's a recent standout moment in your work life?
The process of opening a new restaurant in 2021 was really a gift. To dream something up, build a team around it and then get to see it become a reality is unbelievably special.
What’s the mistake you’ve learned the most from?
Not trusting my gut. When something's not right, it's not right — don't be afraid to lean into that.
What's your go-to way to relax?
Long runs that end somewhere that I can shop for dinner — and then cooking dinner at home.
What was the last thing you cooked?
This past weekend it was pork chops with Calabrian chiles and fennel pollen. Generally, I like to do a lot of Asian cooking at home. Turkey larb with sticky rice is a go-to.