No restaurant is safe from the perils of steep New York rents, not even one as universally well-liked as Union Square Cafe. Restaurant megamogul Danny Meyer shuttered the 30-year-old restaurant last year in its original space (it’s now home to udon emporium Tsurutontan), but Gothamites weren’t without the downtown institution for long—this week, USC reopens a mere five blocks away, in the former home of City Crab.
The bi-level space, nearly doubled from the 6,000-square-foot original, offers a sense of design déjà vu: There’s still plenty of cherrywood, forest-green wainscoting and a colorful collection of paintings from the likes of Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg and Richard Polsky.
Executive chef Carmen Quagliata, a decadelong veteran of the original USC, serves favorites like a lunchtime tuna burger in the 95-seat downstairs dining room, but expands the menu with new dishes like tortellini en brodo, “baked potato” beets with sour cream and braised lamb shank with salsa verde. The extra square footage also allows for an in-house bread program, with sourdough loaves produced by former Lafayette baker Justin Rosengarten.
And there’s not only a mahogany main bar downstairs but a cocktail lounge upstairs, where diners can find drinks like a bitter almond Negroni from Porchlight alum Cory Fitzsimmons. 101 E 19th St (212-243-4020, unionsquarecafe.com).
Check out the space, dishes and drinks below: