Upper West Side in New York City has a true foodie’s gem, The Leopard at des Artistes restaurant. If you are someone who appreciates impeccable service, delicious food and gorgeous interior with lots of history, and we know our readers expect nothing less then perfection, this restaurant is a great choice for you. Minutes away from Lincoln Center and close to Columbus Circle it is only a few blocks trip to the middle of Italy, at least for your senses.Upon entering you will immediately understand why we felt so excited to visit a place that holds a piece of New York City history.
Henry Nekrasov, the manager of the restaurant immediately shared some interesting facts upon welcoming us. One of the city’s most famous and illustrious buildings, The Hotel Des Artistes is the largest “studio” building in the city and was designed as an artist’s cooperative apartment building. Despite its name, the building was never a hotel but had a communal restaurant, squash courts, a swimming pool, a theater and a ballroom as well as its own telephone switchboard. Restaurant was once called “Café des Artistes” originally designed to provide meals for the tenants in the building, whose apartments often had no kitchens until a Hungarian immigrant George Lang decided to make it a restaurant but sadly had to close its doors in 2009.
Gianfranco and Paula Bolla-Sorrentino, along with their talented Chef Vito Gnazzo, The Leopard’s partner Executive Chef, as well as, Executive Chef at Il Gattopardo reopened the restaurant in 2011, under a new name, The Leopard at des Artistes. After a much needed renovation and most importantly restoration of the historical murals by Howard Chandler Christy. He was among the leading illustrators in demand by the most popular periodicals in the early part of the 20th and lived in the building when he painted mural series of “Fantasy Scenes with Naked Beauties”. It took about 15 years for nine oil-on-canvas murals to be completed and today you can enjoy these while dining.
In awe with the beauty and ambiance of The Leopard we started with some sparkling wine and decided to leave it to the Executive Chef Jordan Frosolone to send out the latest dishes from the Fall menu. Traditional Italian food with quality ingredients and interesting combination of special flavors.
We shared our first course of burrata, grilled octopus and sformato di tartufo nero with black truffles, parmigiano Reggiano and arugula, a dish we are ready to go back for anytime. Given there are lots of Italian restaurants in the city it is refreshing to find an appetizer unique to the place. We were happy to be introduced to, for us a new Italian recipe.
To be honest, we didn’t expect Gnocchi di Patate to be particularly exciting pasta dish until Chef Frosolone brought it out made with scallions, lemon and jumbo crab meat. Hats off to creativity and daring combination very exciting for our taste buds. Therefore we had to try another Fall menu pasta plate Mafalde di Castagna with mixed mushrooms, glazed chestnuts and thyme. No regrets there, we highly recommend it paired with red wine on a chilly day.
We continued with Orata Brasata which was perfectly prepared and ideal for two. As courses kept coming we were more and more impressed by each item from the menu and incredibly welcoming, professional service. No meal is complete without a little bit of sweets so Delizia al Limone brought memories from Amalfi coast and hit crescendo at the end of the evening.
Going to The Leopard at des Artistes for dinner was wonderful experience and we can’t wait to go back.
THE LEOPARD at des Artistes / 1 West 67th Street / New York NY 10023
BYOB Bring Your Own Bottle to The Leopard on Sundays 5-10PM!