Classic restaurants revisited

While some iconic New York eateries have been lost to history, others have reinvented themselves to meet the city's ever-changing dining landscape. We checked out five survivors where the second act is worth the price of admission.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    The Leopard at des Artistes

    The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Lentil Ricotta Cakes

    Lentil Ricotta Cakes at the Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Sardinian Fregula

    Sardinian Fregula at the Leopard at des Artistes

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Spaghetti Chittara

    Spaghetti Chittara at the Leopard at des Artistes

Photograph: Courtesy the Leopard

The Leopard at des Artistes

The Leopard at des Artistes

The Leopard at des Artistes
Before boldfaced chefs like Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten colonized the southern reaches of the Upper West Side, Caf des Artistes—which opened in 1917 to service the residents of the Hotel des Artistes above—was a standby for Lincoln Center stars and society types. During the boom times, they came in droves to dine amid extravagant floral arrangements and stunning murals painted by Howard Chandler Christy. The restaurant soldiered gamely into the 21st century, bullheadedly committed to its fusty Old World sensibilities, but the recession proved the final straw for an institution running on the fumes of its former glory. It finally shuttered in 2009, setting the scene for Gianfranco and Paula Sorrentino—the restaurateurs behind midtown trattoria Il Gattopardo—to resurrect the landmark space, this time with a Mediterranean twist.

The revamp: A $2 million overhaul transformed the dusty relic into a stunner once again—the youthful nudes frolicking through Christy's pastel-hued murals were liberated from decades of grime, old carpeting gave way to sparkling terrazzo floors and an intimate librarylike parlor was added for private events. In the kitchen, chef Vito Gnazzo has done away with stodgy continental fare like pot-au-feu and Weiner schnitzel, instead offering a rustic Southern Italian menu.

The verdict: The second coming of Des Artistes is the type of neighborhood trattoria you'd drop into every Sunday evening—if you could afford it. There's an easy elegance to the place, which balances its opulence with unpretentious charm. Score a table in the main dining room for a proper view of the buzzy scene: Waiters in white coats flit about pouring wine and replenishing bread baskets, and diners bask in warm lighting beneath the rejuvenated nudes adorning the walls. The crowd-pleasing food, meanwhile, is unimpeachable in its simple treatment of top-notch ingredients. Start with soul-enriching Sardinian soup of potato, mussels, clams and fregula (tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta), and a traditional spaghetti chittara—thick strands of pasta are cut using guitar strings, then sauted with cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano. 1 W 67th St between Central Park West and Columbus Ave (212-787-8767)


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