By Valerie Milano
New York City, NY (The Hollywood Times) 4/25/17 -On 1 W. 67th Street in mid-town Manhattan is a fine dining jewel known as The Leopard at des Artistes, where “passion is the main ingredient”. It’s old school ambiance with pristine white table cloths and original oil paintings by artist Howard Chandler Christy adorning the walls.
But don’t be intimidated! Snooty theater wear co-mingles comfortably with dressy casual at The Leopard at des Artistes located in one of New York City’s most iconic neo-Gothic spaces.
The Hotel des Artistes is the largest “studio” building in the city originally designed by George Mort Pollard in 1918 as an artists’ cooperative. Among the building’s many famous residents have been Noel Coward, the playwright; Isadora Duncan, the dancer; Norman Rockwell, the artist; Alexander Woollcott, the writer; and John V. Lindsay, former Mayor of New York City.
Chef Vito Gnazzo, The Leopard’s partner and Executive Chef, created the Southern Italian menu rooted in the area once known as The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the mid-1800s. Given its position in the middle of the Mediterranean, Italy is a crossroads. Many foreign powers have left their mark on its culture and cuisine as seen at The Leopard.
After receiving a warm VIP greeting by Henry Nekrasov and the host in charge on this chilly Manhattan eve, we were spirited up a small flight of stairs to the best table in the house. From then on we received attentive but unobtrusive service that never required an upraised finger or eyebrow in the direction of staff.
We were welcomed at our table with a classic Buratta cheese and prosciutto appetizer. The server earned our confidence early on with his on point wine pairings and recommendations.
Surprisingly, the artichoke appetizer was not to kill for. However, redemption came in the form of generous clouds of gnocchi with a world class sauce and split red and green tomato that courted the eye as well as the palate.
Our first protein encounter was the Dover Sole, fileted up close and personal at our table. No funny business, just a splash of olive oil and some expert prep. Delicious and ‘soleful’!
Turf followed surf in the form of a slow-growing duck “porchette” entree. Our first bite of pan-seared duck breast promised little. However, the dish eventually took flight courtesy of a world-beating sauce that I could have easily chugged straight with no chaser. It was a perfectly balanced cocktail mix of with fennel pollen, cipollini with aged balsamic vinegar, pickled raisins and vegetable caponata.
Perhaps the afterglow of the Dover Sole hadn’t quite worn off in time for the more ‘in your face’ experience that a duck course traditionally provides. Like I said, this dish finished strong.
Last impressions are the domain of dessert and The Leopard at des Artistes sent us off happy. I put myself in the hands of our handsome servers regarding all things sweet and decadent, stifling a laugh when asked if I liked chocolate.
Enter a two-layered Nutella chocolate mousse served with hazelnut crunch and an exquisite banana gelato. This was a perfect combination that saw your reviewer leave the table properly sugar-buzzed, sated, and half a dress size larger.
The dining experience and ambiance at The Leopard at des Artistes mitigated the minor bumps in the road we encountered on our culinary journey. I give The Leopard at des Artistes thumbs up for a quality dining experience and frequent highlights paired with a little room for growth.
For more information about The Leopard at des Artistes, please visithttp://www.theleopardnyc.com/