photo by Nicole Franzen

When Anita Lo opened Annisa on a quiet West Village street in 2000, she envisioned a space where she could cook personal food, an essentially American menu with touches that reflect her history. But Lo’s story didn’t stop when the doors opened, and her restaurant continues to reflect her tale, via continuity-providing mainstays — the foie gras soup dumplings, the sablefish in bonito broth, the chicken stuffed with pigs feet — and reference points inspired by Lo’s travels, relationships, and team. There have been high points in this story — Food & Wine’s Best New Chef award, Michelin stars — and there have been moments of intense drama, like the fire that nearly finished off the space. Fourteen years in, Lo’s kitchen is turning out its best food to date, and this is a saga that resonates: By spinning her tale on the plate, Lo has inspired a generation of chefs to tell their own stories in the kitchen, and her story has become an integral part of New York City’s dining record.