Vintage New York dining: retro-style restaurants
Step back in time and fill up on classic dishes with these new retro-style restaurants in New York City.
Tue May 7 2013
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Wall Street suits scowled when Phil Scotti took over their beloved watering hole P.J. Clarke’s in 2002, shuttering the spot for more than a year to spruce up the 129-year-old stalwart. But Scotti preserved its saloon decor—checkered tablecloths, antique knickknacks—and the restaurant vet’s latest addition to the Clarke’s empire is yet another throwback: a burger joint reminiscent of a 1950s soda shop.
The digs: Unlike the dark-wood-clad P.J. Clarke’s, the airy spin-off features bright touches: A deli-style counter is surrounded by glossy subway tiles and chalkboard menus. Butcher-shop paraphernalia—a sign touting "1st in Beef"—pay tribute to Scotti’s dad, a former meat man. Perch on an enamel stool and bop to jukebox classics (“Earth Angel,” “Sherry”) as short-order cooks in white paper hats sear patties on the flattop.
The grub: The menu sticks to all-American classics: burgers and franks. Six Angus beef patties are made with a Pennsylvania-raised heritage breed, including the Standard ($7.50), which arrives swaddled in red-and-white picnic paper. A firm St. Joseph roll—the same kind Scotti ate as a kid—stands up to a juicy slab of beef topped with tomato, red leaf lettuce and American cheese. SoCo Creamery in Massachusetts makes the Little Clarke’s ice cream that’s served in Dixie cups ($2.95), including a malted chocolate that recalls an old-fashioned milk shake. 636 Lexington Ave at 54th St (212-838-6000, clarkesstandard.com)
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