In “Home Plate,” Samuelsson, 50, ventures out to a diverse selection of NYC’s best mom and pop eateries chosen by former Yankees — Bernie Williams, 53, and David Cone, 58 — the New York Liberty’s Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere, 22, along with Lorraine Bracco, 67, and Steve Schirripa, 64, of “The Sopranos.”
“It’s all we love about the city. It’s sports, it’s family, it’s people,” Samuelsson told The Post about his new series, in which he helps prepare a variety of dishes — from old-school Italian, Nigerian and Puerto Rican, all the way to some hardy Texas barbecue — with local chefs.
But the real fun goes down as Samuelsson yuks it up at the table with these New York icons, who give him “a back of the house” look into their lives, taste buds and achievements.
In one scene, Cone tells of a prank he pulled during the 2000 World Series, where he convinced late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner that the Mets had been spying on their clubhouse, resulting in the Boss pulling his perfect-game pitcher into a headlock. When it comes to adventures with Steinbrenner, Cone told The Post, “There’s definitely a few of them that are almost ‘Seinfeld’ episode-like stories.”
In others, Williams reminisces about playing his guitar on rides to away games — he even got Derek Jeter to sing Lionel Richie on occasion — and Onyenwere shares some surprising facts about her journey to success (including that no one in her family played basketball).
Looking to eat like these big names? Here are their hand-picked spots, all based on the cultures they grew up in.
David Cone’s pitch-perfect barbecue
Barbecue is just shy of a religion in Cone’s native city of Kansas City, Mo. — so he knows that Hill Country Barbecue Market in the Flatiron District means business.
“It’s about as good as it gets in New York City,” the pitcher told The Post. “The focus is on the meat instead of the sauces.”
Going behind the scenes with Hill Country’s culinary director, Ash Fulk, Cone and Samuelsson got a glimpse of what goes into the eatery’s iconic “classic brisket barbecue,” cooked on a massive, custom-made smoker for about 13 hours.
Hill Country Barbecue Market, 30 W. 26th St.; HillCountry.com
Nigerian delicacies beloved by Michaela Onyenwere
The daughter of Nigerian parents, this WNBA standout was eager to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Buka, an African eatery in Brooklyn.
Actually, good Nigerian cuisine “was one of the first things” Onyenwere once drafted to her New York team, she said.
Buka owner and chef Lookman Afolayan took Onyenwere and Samuelsson backstage to whip up a traditional stew made with the cassava-based dough known as fufu, as well as spicy meat skewers called suya and jollof rice, which Samuelsson calls “the secret of West Africa.”
Buka, 946 Fulton St., Clinton Hill; BukaNewYork.com
Bernie Williams’ Puerto Rican pick
The spice and flare of Puerto Rican restaurant Counter & Bodega in Chelsea was perfect for Williams, a first-timer to the eatery and native of the island.
In their episode, chef Alejandro Carretero teaches Williams and Samuelsson the tricks to making sofrito sauce; plantain-based dishes such as mashed mofongo and stuffed-and-fried pionono; and some scrumptious looking empanadas.
The outfielder opens up about his passion outside of baseball — playing guitar — and even performs some merengue tableside.
“Music came oddly enough at the same time I was playing baseball,” Williams told Samuelsson about growing up in Puerto Rico.
Counter & Bodega, 216 Seventh Ave., Chelsea; CounterAndBodega.com
A ‘Sopranos’ reunion in The Bronx
Bracco and Schirripa chose to try Italian staple Enzo’s on Arthur Avenue for their episode, which airs Tuesday.
They headed to the kitchen to make various pork dishes, pastas and Enzo’s signature meatballs with onions and peppers, later sharing all sorts of stories from the “Sopranos” set, owner Ralph Martucci told The Post.
“They really indulged in it. Steve loved the meatballs,” said Martucci, whose restaurant was shuttered for 10 months during the pandemic.
Spotlighting NYC’s beleaguered restaurant industry is part of the show’s mission, said its host.
“With COVID, we’ve all had to work harder to get back together,” Samuelsson said. “It feels amazing to support these small business [with] some legends of our city.”
Enzo’s, 2339 Arthur Ave., Little Italy, The Bronx; EnzosArthurAve.com
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