Celebrate the New Year all over the city. These new shops, restaurants and bars across New York offer plenty of new experiences—even for the most seasoned New Yorker.
Places to Sup
Periodically, a certain neighborhood in this city becomes the epicenter of openings. Right now, it’s the turn of the East Twenties (aka Gramercy/Flatiron/NoMad) to become chock-a-block with tempting eateries. Lively, buzzy Marta, (29 E. 29th St., 212.651.3800), the latest from restaurateur Danny Meyer, furnishes easygoing Italian fare in a white-columned open room; guests can sit at tables or at a marble counter that overlooks the black-tiled ovens turning out exotically topped, cracker-thin pizzas. Another Italian newcomer, Florian Café (225 Park Ave. So., 212.869.8800), a Tuscan trattoria, offers antipasti, a burrata bar and pastas. The sculptures decorating the tiled digs were created by owner Shelly Fireman. And Upland (345 Park Ave. So., 212.686.1006) is a West Coast take on an Italian cucina, with items like squash blossom pizza and Jonah crab spaghettini alongside mushroom salad. “I’m bringing a twist on classic California to contemporary New York,” says Chef Justin Smillie of his new green-and-copper establishment.
Many a restaurant changes its menu—and a flower arrangement or two—with the season. But at Park Avenue (360 Park Ave. So., 212.951.7111), everything changes each quarter: from the place settings to the servers’ uniforms, from the decor to the cocktails. (Currently in winter mode, the place resembles a frosty white wonderland.) What does stay constant in the airy, multilevel space is the sense of fun that suffuses tableside preparations, drinks and tongue-in-cheek dishes like the broccoli with Cheetos and chocolate cube dessert (two regulars on the menu). Chef David Waltuck, of the late, great restaurant Chanterelle, is back and cooking with Élan (43 E. 20th St., 646.682.7105). A casual place, cozy in a contemporary way with whitewashed brick walls and gray/brown furnishings, it features updated American comfort foods with rich French or Asian accents, like duck confit hash or poached cod with pig’s feet.
Waltuck isn’t the only renowned NYC chef with a new venture. At Sachi (713 Second Ave., 212.297.1883), dessert specialist Pichet Ong and Thai toque Andy Yang team up to do a hip version of an old-time Chinese restaurant, serving a blend of Pan-Asian cuisines with American influences—lobster BLT roll, anyone?—in a setting filled with jade statues and latticed wood walls. Chef Floyd Cardoz (formerly of North End Grill) aims to make Downtown a diners’ destination with White Street (221 W. Broadway, 212.944.8378). With emerald-green velvet drapes, tufted-leather banquettes and crystal chandeliers, it’s a classically handsome venue. Cardoz‘s local, seasonally driven menu offers hearty, soul-satisfying dishes: spiced fries in duck fat, braised beef short ribs and bouillabaisse.
Meanwhile, on the Lower East Side, Dirty French (180 Ludlow St., 212.254.3000) delivers Gallic fish and rotisserie meats and poultry served in Yankee-size portions, within a farmhouse-meets-Folies-Bergère setting. And roughly in the middle of Manhattan, in the lobby of the Empire State Building, sits STATE Grill and Bar (350 Fifth Ave., 212.216.9693), a plush, carpeted spot that looks like it dates from the Art Deco days. As the name implies, grilled meats are big, including a lamb T-bone, but there are vegetable dishes aplenty, including a cauliflower “steak.”
While New York is an endless source of the new, the restaurant scene is also hosting a mini reinvention convention. First opened 80 years ago, the Rainbow Room (30 Rockefeller Plz., 212.632.5000) is back. Its landmarked design of brass railings, crystal light fixtures and rotating parquet dance floor has been restored, and enhanced with crystal curtains on enlarged windows—all the better to gaze at the urban panorama unfolding from atop the 65th floor. Another icon, Tavern on the Green (W. 67th St. & Central Park West, 212.877.8684), has a new executive chef: Jeremiah Tower, renowned for the San Francisco restaurants Chez Panisse and Stars. He’s introducing what he calls “delicious, colorful and affordable” classics to the menu.
Places to Sip
When it comes to new watering holes, hotels are hot—even if the bar is cleverly disguised. Case in point: Evening Bar (85 W. Broadway, 212.587.7000), a low-lit, intimate (only 27 seats) nook hidden behind the lobby of the Smyth hotel. Resembling a Scandinavian living room ca. 1955, with cocoon chairs, low-slung leather couches and a tiled fireplace, it offers cocktails made with artisanal brands from a back-lit bar. Occupying its own floor of the Park Hyatt New York, the Living Room (153 W. 57th St., 212.897.2188) is a grand site of taupe marble floors and walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Along with its champagne-centric libations, the pleasantly formal space offers original, decadent finger foods, such as savory and sweet éclairs and a chip ‘n’ dip of homemade tater tots and rémoulade.
Prefer a room with a view? Then ascend to SixtyFive (30 Rockefeller Plz., 212.632.5000), the contemporary lounge adjacent to the Rainbow Room, where a panorama of mixed drinks and wines by the glass—accompanied by complimentary caramel popcorn, warm olives and nuts—sustains you as you drink in the wonders of the Manhattan skyline.
Midtown Manhattan has never lacked for swank watering holes, but when one opens under the aegis of esteemed chef/restaurateur Charlie Palmer (Aureole, Charlie Palmer Steak), attention must be paid. As the name suggests, Crimson & Rye (198 E. 54th St., 212.687.6692) presents an elaborate menu of rye whiskeys—18 at last count—along with a cornucopia of bourbons and Scotches; straight or in original cocktails, they’re served at an oval-shaped bar or at wood tables and huge leather club chairs in the circular space.
Another noted chef, Erik Blauberg (formerly of ‘21’) is casting his lot with the craft brewery biz. His Stanton Street Kitchen (178 Stanton St., no phone at press time) offers 100-plus bottles of stouts, ales and porters from around the globe, along with 24 seasonal drafts—matched with munchies like spicy prawns with cracked corn; black figs and goat cheese; and pulled duck, all served on sourdough bread, along with more substantial fare.
Places to Shop
Fifth Avenue, that longtime bastion of department stores, boasts several new arrivals. Topshop/Topman (608 Fifth Ave., 212.757.8240), the fanatically popular British brand, brings its patented plush, glittery styles in clothes, cosmetics and accessories to Midtown. From fuzzy coats to sequined bags to skinny jeans, it’s a four-story slice of swinging London for women and men. A few blocks north resides Polo Ralph Lauren (711 Fifth Ave., 646.774.3900), the flagship for the designer’s moderately priced line. While two-thirds of the glossy store is devoted to the new Polo collection for women, gents can get their fill of cable-knit sweaters and chinos on the sports-memorabilia-adorned ground floor. There’s a homey coffee bar, too.
Just off Fifth Avenue, in the booming West 30s, lies a venue for those whose taste runs toward the artisanal. Bene Rialto (13 W. 38th St., 212.246.5984) is an urban “marketplace” of small designers of womenswear, menswear, accessories and housewares. While new brands rotate in every three months, a typical mix of limited-edition items might include dance-inspired separates by Nicole Lenzen and King’s Crown shaving products.
Boutiques also abound in our fair town. For his second NYC store, Billy Reid (94 Charles St., 212.598.9355) has opted to open a small Village venue, with parquet walls and a decanter of Bulleit Bourbon on hand. Store manager Amanda Urrego calls the pieces “the best of the collection” of Reid’s Southern, slightly rustic mens- and womenswear, plus a revived denim line and one-of-a-kind runway items.
Fans of baubles, bangles and beads can delight in several new jewelers. Paul Morelli (895 Madison Ave., 212.585.4200), a prestigious Philadelphia firm patronized by the likes of Rihanna, has established a black-and-white jewel box of a store for the designer’s light creations made with vintage craftsmanship: pieces with two safety clasps, or tennis bracelets weighted so that the sparkling side always lies on top. A few blocks down the avenue, Hueb (717 Madison Ave., 212.486.2890) draws inspiration from its native Brazil in its use of big, tropically colored gemstones and “en tremblant” lily pad or leaf-shaped earrings that ripple with a toss of the head. While these stores offer serious sparklers, the costume-jewelry crowd can check out The Lulu Shop (12 E. 20th St., 212.965.0075), the online retailer’s first store. A sun-drenched atelier in the original Lord & Taylor building, it carries representative samplings of all the collections of the Lulu Frost line, along with a New York Plaza Bar that allows clients to create customized pieces.
Other outfits making their brick-and-mortar debuts include Chilewich (23 E. 20th St., 212.679.9257). Creative Director Sandy Chilewich has opened a space with black Peg-Board walls, bearing shelves of colorful, woven napkins and bolts of runners and place or floor mats. Darling-of-the-department-stores label Ramy Brook houses its drapey silk tops, skirts and satiny jumpsuits, along with a new handbag line, at a pint-size but packed boutique (22 Prince St., 212.775.0690). Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, unveils his own line of clothing for both genders in a bi-level boutique (956 Madison Ave., 212.988.8686), decorated in a Zen minimalist way with pale wood floors and bronze details. Boris Bidjan Saberi (494 Greenwich St., 212.925.2901) takes on the town with an industrial-chic space displaying his neutral-toned garb for men and women; made of waxed leather or vinyl-processed cloth, his designs are favored by Brad Pitt (who bought a vegetable-tanned leather jacket recently, a salesperson confides).
While local boutiques abound, other well-established lines have arrived from afar. A huge, bejeweled black skull marks the entrance of German designer Philipp Plein (625 Madison Ave., 212.644.3304)—the first of many scattered around the glitzy store, along with other crystal-bedecked prints for his mens- and womenswear collections. And Margaret O’Leary (279 Mott St., 646.274.9498) recreates her laid-back San Francisco vibe with unstructured, soft cardigans, crewnecks and tunics.
Big or small, classic or contemporary, novice or well known: Sooner or later, it all comes to New York.