Last updated: 1:59 am
May 14, 2009
Posted: 12:59 am
May 14, 2009
The Upper West Side has never been much of a dining destination -- until recently, that is. In just the past year, some of the city's top chefs have opened spots all over the 'hood.
These aren't the bland, overpriced eateries of yore. There's spicy Asian fusion at Michael "Bao" Huynh's BarBao and Zak Pelaccio's Fatty Crab; rustic Greek at chef Michael Psilakis' Kefi; gourmet bistro fare from neighborhood pioneer Tom Valenti at West Branch; and those famous Shake Shack burgers courtesy of Danny Meyer, to name just a few.
"We have watched the restaurant scene on the Upper West Side grow and develop over the past few years and decided the time was right to jump into the water," says Pelaccio, whose Fatty Crab outpost on Broadway has been open for two months. "It seemed that there was a culinary void to be filled."
Valenti has witnessed the neighborhood shift since he opened Ouest in 2001.
"I think the culinary changes have been driven by residential demographics," he says. "Younger families have moved in and they want something different. We tried to create a place [West Branch] that was casual and easily accessible to everyone."
To celebrate (and show off) all this new flavor, the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District is hosting its second New Taste of the Upper West Side on May 30. General admission tickets are already sold out (around 1,500 tickets have been snapped up), with some newly released $200 VIP tickets still up for grabs.
Just a quick glance at the list of 30-plus participants shows just how much tastier the neighborhood has gotten. In addition to every restaurant mentioned above, food will be served by Cesare Casella's Salumeria Rosi, Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud and the latest outpost of Blue Ribbon Sushi. All of these restaurants opened in 2008.