Restaurant Review: The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC

05/21/2017
Angela Ranieri

The Leopard at des Artistes,  1 West 67th Street, NYC

The Leopard at des Artistes

The Hotel des Artistes at this address was built in 1917 and has been home to many of the famous in NYC history, including writer Alexander Woollcott, dancer Isadora Duncan, playwright Noel Coward, writer Fannie Hurst, who had a very large triplex penthouse, New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay, and Norman Rockwell, the artist. The gothic design credited to architect George Mort Pollard on the picturesque tree lined quiet street steps from Central Park, makes this an idyllic place to slow down in the midst of the fast pace.

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. The 18-story building built in 1918 has 115 apartments, most duplexes with double-height living rooms and balcony bedrooms. The base of the building’s façade is decorated with many figures of artists and many of the apartments have English Renaissance style paneling, beamed ceilings and fireplaces. Despite its name, the building was never a hotel although its amenities were and are very impressive. The building had a communal restaurant, squash courts, a swimming pool, a theater and a ballroom as well as its own telephone switchboard. The theater and ballroom have been converted to other uses, but the building and most apartments now have their own kitchens. The neo-Gothic-style building, which has a canopied entrance and large lobby, has a concierge and elevator operator.

 

The Leopard at des Artistes

While taking a stroll, those in-the-know love to pay a visit to the famed street level restaurant formerly known and still often referred to as “Cafe des Artistes”, which became The Leopard at des Artistes in 2011, when acquired by husband and wife team Gianfranco Sorrentino from Naples, Italy, and Paula Bolla-Sorrentino of Brazil. Gianfranco, with over 30 years experience in management including at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo, Bice Restaurant in New York and Quisitana Hotel in Capri and Paula, with a fashion and design background (she is an FIT alum), this pair were ideal to take on the rebirth of Cafe des Artiste.

Gianfranco Sorrentino, Chef Vito Gnazzo and Paula Bolla-Sorrentino

Without excellent food, this transition could not have been a successful one and Vito Gnazzo is the genius behind the culinary adventure. Gnazzo began his career at the 3-Michelin star restaurant Antica Osteria del Ponte, in Milan, immigrated to United States to work as head Chef at Il Rex in California and in 1993, moved to New York and became Executive Chef at Sette MoMA. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m sure you are wondering why I’m writing about a restaurant that changed ownership in 2011 when it is now 2017.

The answer is not a simple one.

The area of New York City known as The Upper West Side, once encompassing north of 59th street and south of 96th street, has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. New sub-locations have developed and with a new feel to each. Approximately every five blocks, the vibe, the stores, the restaurants change. Over the past five years, the turnover of restaurants has been massive.

 

Entrance

The Leopard at des Artistes, once considered part of the Upper West Side is now referenced to as part of Lincoln Square, a nod to nearby Lincoln Center, where I have found some unfulfilling and not-worth-revisiting restaurants.

My husband and I started to frequent the Leopard at des Artistes when our son was an infant. We would visit for brunch and my son would gaze at the beautiful murals, part of the decor at Cafe des Artistes, while resting in his stroller. The food was exceptional, the atmosphere delightful, and most important to us, the people were accommodating.

Murals

The decor, while updated, maintained some of the beauty, including those delightful wall murals, that I viewed as a child myself whilst dining at the old ‘Cafe des Artistes’.

We have continued to Brunch and Dinner at “The Leopard” and you must make this a stop if you are seeking a culinary treat in NYC.

 

Cuisine

Chef Vito Gnazzo – The Leopard’s partner Executive Chef, as well as, Executive Chef at ‘Il Gattopardo’ and ‘Mozzarella & Vino’ since its foundation – created the Southern Italian menu that finds its roots in the area once know as The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, mid 1800s, and the culinary traditions of the regions of Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Apulia, Sardinia, and of course Sicily, reaching a balance between dishes based on rural elements, such as pasta, vegetables, cheese, and seafood ingredients from the Costiera.

A variety of recipes are influenced by the local aristocracy, in contrast with the popular traditions, containing poor but authentic and nutritionally healthy ingredients.

Spring-Summer 2017

The menu changes seasonally to ensure optimal ingredient quality.

 

Salad

From the current menu, I recommend the shrimp salad Panzanella, Pan-seared red snapper, spaghetti carbonara and Sicilian cous-cous with shellfish ragout.

I’m told the duck breast porchetta is out-of-this-world.

Sicilian seafood ragout and cous cous

 

In addition to a full bar, they are currently offering a wine pairing dining option, where you can experience three Italian wines during your dining adventure.

Three course Italian wine experience offered with “A Regional Taste of The Leopard” Menu, $30.  The current region featured, at time of writing,  is Campania.

 

Should you choose, and you really must, this is a visit worth making.

Tell them AlphaLuxe sent you.

Don’t forget that ‘Italian Restaurant Week’ in NYC this year is 2nd – 9th June 2017.

 

Dolci

 

Address: 1 W 67th St, New York, NY 10023, USA

Hours:

5:00pm–11:30pm Daily;

Weekend Brunch 11:30am–3:00pm

Phone: +1.(212) 787-8767

 

 

Author’s Biography
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.

She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing. Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.

Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com.

In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.